Many states are addressing the topic of occupational licensure in a variety of ways that could negatively impact audiologists, SLPs, and individuals with communication disorders.
Licensure is designed to protect consumers from harm by
- helping consumers identify the differences between audiologists, SLPs, and other persons providing services (e.g., paraprofessionals, teachers, hearing aid dispensers);
- ensuring that only those with the appropriate qualifications and training can provide audiology and speech-language pathology services;
- deterring the hiring or substitution of others who do not meet the identified criteria for professional practice;
- deterring unethical behavior;
- increasing access to and reimbursement from third-party insurers;
- providing the necessary authority to intervene in cases of provider misconduct; and
- providing a venue for consumers and professionals to seek redress, including censure of individuals who have committed fraud or who have engaged in otherwise unethical behavior.
What can you tell your legislators to protect the professions from occupational licensure reform in your state?
Legislation that would require professions to be regulated by the least restrictive means, which could undermine recognition of ASHA’s Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC).
- Creating new committees to oversee an already established board’s decision-making process will be costly, will be unnecessary, and will not provide the needed expertise to address the complex issues addressed by the licensure board.
- Eliminating occupational regulations will restrict consumer access to appropriate audiology and speech-language pathology services by reducing the number of licensed professionals practicing in the state.
- Eliminating consumer protection regulations may allow unlicensed individuals to provide services without meeting educational or training requirements. Reducing or removing these requirements will impact consumer safety.
- Requiring regulatory oversight provided by professional licensing agencies and boards is the accepted practice for consumer protection.
Legislation that would require individuals who are not associated with audiology or speech-language pathology to oversee changes to the scope of practice or to perform a periodic review of the practice act.
- The regulatory oversight provided by professional licensing boards is the accepted practice for consumer protection.
- Some of the most critical responsibilities of the Board include ensuring that licensed practitioners follow the Code of Ethics, providing means for review of any possible ethical violations, and monitoring completion of required continuing education to ensure that practitioners maintain best practices when treating clients with communication disorders.
- Maintaining the licensure board ensures that the state has the most effective tool for managing consumer concerns and preserving quality standards for the professions.
- It is critical to educate legislators on the importance of retaining audiologists and SLPs on the licensure boards because they have the expertise to understand the issues facing the professions.
Legislation that would prohibit professionals from identifying themselves as holding a professional certification like CCC-A or CCC-SLP.
- Inform legislators of the value behind ASHA’s CCC, that ASHA certification is the fundamental standard among major health professions, and that the CCC is the most widely recognized symbol of competency for audiologists (CCC-A) and SLPs (CCC-SLP).
- Individuals holding the CCCs are expected to abide by ASHA’s Code of Ethics.
- Although licensure is important and ensures that we can perform our work legally, certification is important for internal professional recognition and external accountability.
- State licensure provides consumer protection and recourse against incompetent practitioners or those acting in an unethical manner so that they may be removed from practice.
- Both licensure and ASHA certification help ensure the quality provision of audiology and speech-language pathology services.
What can you do to protect the profession from occupational licensure reform in your state?
- Contact ASHA, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or your state association to determine whether legislation and/or regulations have been introduced in your state.
- Respond to requests from ASHA and your state association to send letters to your legislators and/or regulators on this issue.
- Attend hearings and provide testimony on how the issue affects you personally.