When we talk about managing the members of a given profession, we tend to refer to either a regulated order (college) or a professional association. This article discusses the differences between the two, specifically with regards to their goals and vision.
The primary objective of a professional order is to regulate a profession or a field of practice in order to ensure that its members follow established standards aimed at protecting the public. It ensures that its members are adequately trained in order to effectively carry out their vocation. A regulated order will favor an administration style that allows for control of the profession through by-laws and a code of ethics. It will demonstrate accountability and transparency to the government and the public in order to fulfill its mandate.
A professional association works differently in the sense that it represents first and foremost the interests of its members and provides them with support in their profession. It is also a common link between several businesses in a specific field, allowing it to support its members and to promote their development.
The vision of each of these types of organization is very different given their approach to affiliation restrictions as well as the benefits and services associated with membership.
Within the framework of a regulated order or college, membership is mandatory in order to practice in a given field. For example, in Quebec registered nurses are governed by the Ordre des infirmières et des infirmiers du (OIIQ). Therefore, all nurses seeking to practice within the province are required to obtain a license from the order. In addition, a nurse is required to comply with the requirements of the order that dictate the training, work experience and other criteria needed to maintain an active license to practice. This also means that if a member of the OIIQ wished to work in another Canadian province, she would need to apply to the order or college that has jurisdiction in that area. In other words, a regulated body or college is responsible for authorising the exercise of a given profession and ensuring the quality and compliance of its members.
In the case of a professional association, member enrollment is voluntary, and it is not a requirement to practice in a given field. An example is that of the individuals and companies working in the field of residential construction. Many of them are active members of the l’Association Provincial des Constructeurs d’Habitation du Québec (APCHQ), but not all. The services offered by a professional association will be oriented toward the development and protection of its members. Mediating communication with the public and the government, protection services, legal assistance and benefits for members are just some examples of the advantages of membership. However, from the legal point of view, members and non-members are governed by the same laws and regulations.
Whether it be a regulated order or a professional association, you now better understand their place in our society and the different roles they play in administering and supporting various professions.
For Gestisoft, it is essential that we provide our clients with solutions that are just right. That is why we have different products that can be adapted to different market verticals, so that both regulated bodies and professional associations can have the best possible solution to manage their members.