Friday, April 24, 2009

Saving us from ourselves: a clarification, an explanation, and an observation

I got another email from an NCARB representative this week that shed some light on IDP, NCARB, and the infernal late application fee:

For further clarification, you can only pursue an NCARB certificate after you have received your initial license and if you meet the requirements of certification;  If you keep your record active between IDP/ARE and initial licensure and then pursue NCARB certification, the application fee is waived ($675) and you’ll receive ½ price renewals for the first three years (the current annual renewal for certification is $190).


The “late application” fee is actually intended to reduce retroactive reporting for the IDP and to encourage timely reporting of experience.  This fee is being eliminated on July 1st of this year as the new six month rule will require regular reporting.  Thanks!

This explanation for the late application fee makes sense to me only if interns actually check the schedule of fees on NCARB's website.  Many of them probably don't, and they pay for it.  So what's the problem with retroactively reporting a few years' worth of hours?  The NCARB rep explains:

Once the six month rule is in place, no retroactive reporting beyond the 6 month rule windows will be allowed.  We have done our best to broadcast these changes over the past 15 months.  We fully believe that timely report will benefit the intern, the supervisor, and will ensure that NCARB Records runs smoothly.  A common complaint that we receive involves frustrated interns that cannot get past employers to verify their work because the supervisors simply don’t remember what work was accomplished and hesitate to provide a blanket sign-off.  The timely reporting should enhance the experience and actually reduce issues and delays associated with the process… but interns will be responsible to get these reports in within the appropriate reporting windows (within two months of the end date of the reporting period).

Ah, that's why.  It's partially a problem of NCARB being able to get an intern's record complied and approved in a timely manner once they receive a huge pile of an intern's hours, and it's also that they're having to save interns from themselves.  I have also seen interns scrambling time and again to get former employers to approve hours and sign off on their records when the intern finally opens their NCARB record after working for four years and being gone from that employer for three of them.  NCARB's Six Month rule, which requires that an intern report their hours of experience every six months through the online recordkeeping system (e-EVR), will prevent these sorts of delays.

What's notable here is that NCARB's three most recent changes are designed ultimately to stop interns from procrastinating.  The Five-Year rule, instituted in the last couple of years, mandates that from the date of an intern's first test, s/he only has five years to finish passing the tests.  When the Five-Year rule was passed, there were nine tests in the ARE.  Starting in 2007 (I think, but maybe it was early 2008), there are only seven tests in the latest version of the ARE, known as ARE 4.0.  This means that now you have five years to pass seven tests, not nine.  Added to all this is the Six-Month rule, which kicks in for all interns not yet taking the ARE as of July 1 of this year.  All these changes require that an intern open their record with NCARB in a timely fashion (if they do indeed plan to go through NCARB and IDP), report their hours on a regular basis, and then finish taking their tests in an expedient manner once they've started.

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