On a number of occasions, there have been proposals made related to licensing of meteorologists as is done for physicians, engineers and other groups. The following report on this subject was developed by a Committee established in 1988 by President Roscoe Braham. The report was approved by the Council of the American Meteorological Society in September 1989. Report of Ad Hoc Committee of the AMS Executive Committee to Study Issues Relating to the Licensing of Meteorologists In June 1988, AMS President Roscoe Braham, on behalf of the Executive Committee, appointed an as hoc committee to study issues relating to the licensing of meteorologists. Topics that the committee might explore were included in the charge to the committee. During the ensuing two years, the committee engaged in a wide-ranging exchange of views on questions relating to what it perceived as the central issue: should the Executive Committee recommend to the AMS Council that the Society go on record as favoring, opposing, or remaining silent on the issue of licensing of meteorologists. The issue had arisen as a result of preliminary discussions in California on licensing of mete- orologists in that state. Views were solicited from members of the Society, the issue was discussed at two meetings of Certified Consulting Meteorologists, position papers were prepared and circulated by members of the committee, and a meeting of the full committee was held in Anaheim, California, in January 1989. Although lengthy lists of pros and cons on licensing of meteorologists can be—and have been—prepared, it is the view of the ad hoc committee that the heart of the matter rests with the twin responsibilities of the Society: (1) to ensure a dynamic and creative meteorological profession and thereby (2) protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. A professional group can most effectively discharge the second of these responsibilities by focusing its primary efforts on the first responsibility. The AMS has done this magnificently over the past four decades through its committee infrastructure and with its publications, meetings, statements and, in particular, its program of Certification of Consulting Meteorologists and its Seal of Approval for Radio and TV Weathercasters. The protection of the health, safety and welfare of the public is primarily the responsibility of the institutional infrastructure in the public sector. Various avenues are available for advocating licensing when it is deemed desirable or necessary by the public. No groundswell of public opinion for licensing of meteorologists has come to the attention of the Committee. A sharp distinction needs to be made between licensing and certification. Licensing is a public function— intended primarily to protect the public health, safety and welfare. Certification is a professional function primarily to ensure a high level of competence and thereby to serve the public interest. A serious problem with both certification and licensing is that both are customarily issued without time limits (except for annual renewal fees and perfunctory questions about continued professional activity). There is little or no effort expended to ensure that individuals have, in fact, maintained the level of competence required at the time they were certified. The history of professional licensing is replete with instances where licensing was advocated as a means of enhancing professional and economic interests of a particular profession under the guise of protecting the public. In general, licensing does not improve the quality of service, but it does increase the cost, raises the threat of liability suits, and invites political intervention (personal communication to the Committee from Jay C. Hil- gartner). In succinct summary, the ad hoc committee recommends that: • The American Meteorological Society does not recommend state licensing until and unless there is per- suasive evidence that it is actually needed to protect the public health, safety and welfare—evidence sufficient to generate within the public sector request for licensing. • The proper and most effective steps that the Society can make to fulfill its responsibilities to the public would be to strengthen its programs in Certification and Seal of Approval. • A comprehensive review of the efficacy of these programs be undertaken. In particular, it should address the issue of ensuring that the high level of competence that warranted certification or seal in the first place still exists. Respectfully submitted, Robert Carnahan Peter Giddings Robert Fleagle Thomas Malone, Chairman Loren Crow James Kimpel Roy Leep, Jr.
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: Jan 1, 1990
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