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Combat Cheating in Regulatory Bodies – Part 1

Since we’ve been testing people for various things, cheaters have been out there – trying to find an easier way to pass our tests.

Interestingly, according to Educational Testing Service (ETS), “Cheating is more widespread … than it was years ago because it no longer carries the stigma it used to.” People are doing it because they feel it is a victimless crime and if others are doing it then why not them?

In this 2 part post, I’ll look at some examples of how registrants cheat regulatory requirements and we’ll examine some tools that you can use in your association management software to curb the behavior.

“Back in 1940, only 20 percent of college students admitted to cheating during their academic careers. Today, that number has increased to a range of 75%-98%.” –

As cheating relates to the regulation of a profession by a regulatory body – the crime is definitely not victimless. When a registrant falsifies their credentials or cheats on a jurisprudence exam, they are putting the public at risk – and regulatory bodies must take this very seriously.

So, what are some examples of cheating at a regulatory body and how do you catch the cheaters or make it harder to cheat?  In part one, we’ll look at cheating during reporting of continuing competence and praxtice hours.  In part two we’ll look at jurisprudence exams and falsification of documents.

Continuing Competence Cheating

Most regulatory bodies have a continuing competence program – either because it’s required by legislation or have voluntarily implemented one. Continuing competence programs require members to create learning plans for themselves and then follow up on those plans by completing learning activities that enhance their knowledge in their particular practice area.

How can a registrant cheat on Continuing Competence? If the regulatory body just requires that the member tell the College of their learning activities, then the College has no proof that the activities actually happened. Members can claim that they attended a workshop, but if there’s no certificate or receipt, then the regulatory body cannot verify the claim.

The solution? There are a couple of options:

  1. Require documentation proving attendance at workshops, seminars and courses. If your association management software can be configured to allow document uploads, then you can require that your registrants upload a copy of their certificate or receipt for the course. If your association management software does not allow you to require uploads of documentation, then you may need to have registrants send proof through email, postal mail or fax.
  2. Audit continuing competence claims. By doing random document audits in your association management software, you have an opportunity to review the documentation of your members claims. Hopefully, if your members have been uploading their competence documentation, then the random audit is as simple as reviewing the documents that they’ve been submitting all along. If your members cannot upload their documents, then you may need to require that they send you a physical copy of their portfolio for review.

While sending a portfolio is not ideal, if you are auditing a sample of your members, then it doesn’t have to be months of work.

Practice Hours Cheating

Like Continuing Competence, most regulatory bodies use some method to track the practice hours of their members. Tracking practice hours is critical for several reasons:

  1. It is a measure of the knowledge that your members have in their practice area. For instance – a member who has been working in a non-clinical setting for the last 5 years may not have the required practice knowledge to work with patients without going through a bridging program of some kind.
  2. Members who are attempting to re-instate their license still have to have the required practice hours to work with the public – if they’ve been out of the profession for 3 years, they may still have the practice hours that your regulatory body requires – i.e. 2000 hours over the last 5 years.

Members cheating on practice hours are likely to simply overstate the number of hours that they actually practiced. In many cases – the numbers that they report are close enough to not make a difference such as reporting 1600 hours but actually only working 1560. This situation happens most often because members are estimating their hours because the College is asking for the 2016 hours, but 2016 is not complete yet.

The solution?

Similar to continuing competence, auditing practice hours is good practice. Audits using a random sampling of your members will allow you to require that those sampled members send a copy of their practice hour information. Typically this has to be obtained from the employer or from pay stubs – depending on your regulatory body requirements.


For many forms of cheating, the easiest solution is to randomly audit your members claims.  The chance of being caught and disciplined hopefully has the desired consequences of stopping those that may have been inclined to consider cheating the system.

In part two of this post, we’ll look at other cheating methods and so ways to catch a cheater.