The state Legislature took one step closer to counting military experience toward licensing requirements in some medical professions today with a 46-0 Senate vote to pass Senate Bill 5307.
The measure, sponsored by Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, would count military training toward licenses for opticians, physicians’ assistants, and physical therapists, among other medical professions, a move supporters say would cut back redundant training for Washington veterans taking up civilian careers.
“Military professionals often have very, very relevant training and they should not have to start from scratch when pursuing a professional license,” said Kilmer. “As a state we should be rewarding knowledge.”
Mark San Souci, the Washington liaison from the U.S. Defense Department, said he was pleased with the support the bill had received in the Senate. Because Washington has the seventh largest veterans’ population of any state, he said, the measure could benefit a lot of people here.
According to the Military Officers Association of America, Washington had 69,839 military retirees in 2009.
Since it was first introduced, the bill has been changed to require the Health Department to count military experience unless it finds a reason not to. Under the original bill, the department would only have been required to come up with a process for evaluating military experience.
A companion to the bill, House Bill 1417, made it out of the House Healthcare and Wellness Committee on Feb. 10 and is awaiting approval in the House Rules Committee.
To become law, the proposal will have to pass the House and the Senate and be approved by the governor.