Frequently Searched

Breaking Through Barriers: Doctor Fights for Right to Earn a Living

January 17, 2024

Imagine dedicating years of your life to mastering your profession, only to move to a new state and find your qualifications unrecognized. With nearly one in three jobs around the nation requiring an occupational license—a government permission slip to work—that’s been the reality for countless professionals, including Dr. Carol Gandolfo, an experienced psychologist who moved from California to Arizona. Her journey to Arizona was not just a change of scenery, but a pivotal moment in the Goldwater Institute’s nation-leading work to safeguard the right to earn a living against bureaucratic red tape and onerous licensing restrictions.

In a new Atlas Network video and article, Dr. Gandolfo offers a personal account of her journey overcoming corruption, with Goldwater’s help, to serve her community.

In California, Dr. Gandolfo’s reputation was impeccable. But upon moving to Arizona, she confronted a harsh reality: the state wouldn’t recognize her California license to practice psychology. “When we moved here, I never thought that I couldn’t practice… I had a license, I was good at my job,” she reflected. The licensing barrier was not just a personal hurdle, it reflected a broader issue within the profession—in fact dozens of states force experienced, licensed professionals to go through the costly, time-intensive process of obtaining a new license before they can get to work.

But as Goldwater Institute Vice President for Litigation Jon Riches explained: “It’s never the public who’s asking for a license to be put in place. It’s the profession. They want to keep out potential competitors.”

Americans should be free to move from state to state and exercise their right to earn a living without fear of economic consequences. That’s why the Goldwater Institute created a revolutionary law called universal recognition—and it’s been a game-changer. Since 2019, when Goldwater first enacted this law in Arizona, over 8,000 professionals across dozens of fields have benefitted from a streamlined licensure process that allows professionals with a license in good standing from another state to practice in Arizona when they move to the Grand Canyon State. This important reform has sparked a national movement too, with Goldwater going on to enact universal recognition in more than half the states in the country.

But for Dr. Gandolfo, the battle was far from over. Despite the new law, and despite her clear qualifications, the Arizona Board of Psychological Examiners still wouldn’t let her practice. That’s when the Goldwater Institute stepped in to fight this injustice on Dr. Gandolfo’s behalf. “We think it’s important that after good reforms are passed that they’re enforced properly by the courts, so that’s exactly what we did,” Riches said.

After a two-year legal struggle, Dr. Gandolfo’s persistence paid off. The Goldwater Institute prevailed in the legal battle against the board, and Dr. Gandolfo is now able to practice in Arizona, currently offering therapy to first responders and many others in Sedona. Dr. Gandolfo’s story is a testament to the positive impact of occupational licensing reform, not just for her but for countless professionals seeking new opportunities in Arizona and around the nation. Each of these success stories symbolizes more than just the triumph of a reform; they represent the real-life impact of a common-sense law on families, careers, and communities.

At the heart of the Goldwater Institute’s fight for occupational licensing reform is a fundamental truth: every individual has the inherent right to earn a living in the profession of their choice without undue government interference, no matter where they live. Our work isn’t just about breaking down bureaucratic barriers. It’s about affirming the dignity of work and the freedom to pursue one’s livelihood.

You can read Atlas Network’s article and watch the video here. Find out more about Goldwater’s universal recognition reform here.

Cameron Teel is a Ronald Reagan Fellow at the Goldwater Institute.



More on this issue

Donate Now

Help all Americans live freer, happier lives. Join the Goldwater Institute as we defend and strengthen freedom in all 50 states.

Donate Now

Since 1988, the Goldwater Institute has been in the liberty business — defending and promoting freedom, and achieving more than 400 victories in all 50 states. Donate today to help support our mission.

We Protect Your Rights

Our attorneys defend individual rights and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Need Help? Submit a case.

Get Connected to Goldwater

Sign up for the latest news, event updates, and more.