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The Caregiver's Soapbox

Volume 17    www. thedead-beat.com    Issue 2


Mortuary Muse*     Mortuary Muse


*to think or consider deeply; meditate By Lowell

Achieving Regulatory Balance In the Funeral Industry...is it a pipe dream?

When I was a teenager attending district meetings with my parents, there was always a State Board member in attendance (usually the Secretary of the Board.)  I thought being on THE BOARD was akin to being on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Obviously the highest professional honor an embalmer could receive.  In those days the Missouri embalmer’s license was the whole show.

By the time I completed my oral exam, shortly before receiving my embalmer’s license, I think my image of the board might have tarnished a degree.  They all seemed like regular undertakers.

A few years later when our legislature passed a somewhat flawed F.D. licensing law, I was disappointed to hear some money had changed hands during the process.  Now there are so many certification acronyms for so many facets of the profession, I wonder if there is anything meaningful to the consumer other than the price of direct cremation.

When it comes to education, licensing and rule making, how can you cover so many aspects and how can a board of volunteers ever sort out what regulations need to be changed, dropped or newly adopted??  And enforcement of the rules has its own problems.  It has not been uncommon to hear of suits where rule interpretation and enforcement  have been used  as anti-competition measures.

Board appointments themselves are sometime highly suspect in their motivation.  A few years ago one of my friends and colleagues who was very highly regarded was  thought to be a shoo-in for the appointment.  Alas, the appointment apparently went to a funeral director who had made a healthy political contribution.

I have been inclined to think that perhaps marketplace trends and other consumer protection groups would make funeral industry boards irrelevant.  The donor body parts scandal in Colorado that the Reuters News Agency reported on certainly shows a failure on some agency’s rules or state law.

For several generations we thought the basic mortuary education—apprenticeship, mortuary school, student embalmer and licensing gave adequate professional training to take care of our client families and provide a living for our own family.  Now this expertise is spread over many areas including health, finance/banking, psychology, engineering, accounting, H.R., etc.  Senior management needs to have at least an MBA, to manage a large business profitably and give its employees a life after work.  As for the generations whose work was their life—the ranks are getting pretty thin.    



About the Author:  Lowell Pugh has had funeral director and embalmer licenses in Missouri and Texas.  He is publisher of The Dead Beat which began in 1999.  He can be contacted at The Dead Beat address. 







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