The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, otherwise known as ASHA, has high standards for their audiologists and speech-language pathologists. ASHA certification standards require that the professional update their certifications to correctly reflect their credentials. For any professional within this field, being “certified” signifies that they hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) which proves their excellence within the different fields.
All certificate holders are expected to uphold the standards and follow the ASHA Code of Ethics. But first, one has to complete their ASHA certification. Here is what you can expect!
ASHA Certification Standards: What You Will Encounter
When completing your ASHA certifications, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. Below are the standards that you can expect to encounter when completing this process.
Standard I: Degree
Applicants MUST have a master’s, doctoral, or any other recognized post-baccalaureate degree before applying.
Standard II: Education Program
ASHA certification standards also state which educational programs an applicant should do their coursework and clinical experience through. Coursework and experiences must be initiated and completed through a CAA-accredited program.
To implement this standard, the applicant’s program director must submit a program director verification form. Applicants should also submit an official graduate transcript or a letter from their registrar verifying the date the degree was awarded.
Standard III: Program of Study
ASHA requires that the applicant complete a program of study (a minimum of 36 credit hours) that includes coursework and supervised clinical experience. The experience gained from the program must be sufficient in all areas and achieve the specified knowledge and skills outcomes.
For an applicant’s program of study to be accepted, their hours must have been earned in a program that is relevant to the ASHA Scope of Practice in SLP. If the program’s information does not align with this, the application will not be accepted.
Standard IV: Knowledge Outcome
The ASHA certification standards that deal with the applicant’s knowledge outcomes cover several different areas. Here is a quick overview of the eight standards that applicants should be able to comply with.
- Standard IV-A: The applicant must demonstrate knowledge of statistics as well as the biological, physical, and social/behavioral sciences.
- Standard IV-B: Applicants must demonstrate knowledge of human communication and swallowing processes. This includes the appropriate terminology and factors that play into these operations. They must also demonstrate their ability to integrate this information into practice.
- Standard IV-C: The applicant must show a knowledge of communication and swallowing disorders and differences, including appropriate causes, factors, and characteristics of these issues. To see the specific areas that should be understood and applied, you can look at the 2020 AHSA standards compared to the 2014 standards on ASHA.org.
- Standard IV-D: For each of the previously specified areas in IV-C, the applicant must demonstrate their current knowledge of the principles, methods of prevention, and assessment of the patients. They must also be able to consider outside factors.
- Standard IV-E: Applicants must demonstrate knowledge of the ASHA standards of ethical conduct.
- Standard IV-F: The applicant must show knowledge of research processes and the integration of it into clinical practice.
- Standard IV-G: All applicants must demonstrate an understanding of contemporary professional issues.
- Standard IV-H: Finally, the applicant must demonstrate knowledge of certifications, licensure, and other professional credentials. They should also know the local, state, and national regulations and policies relevant to practice.
Standard V: Skills Outcome
Just like the knowledge outcome standards, the ASHA certification standards have specific skill requirements. Take a look at these standards below.
- Standard V-A: The applicant must demonstrate skills in oral, written, and other forms of communication important to professional practice.
- Standard V-B: Applicants must complete a program of study that includes experiences that provide them with sufficient information and skills. A more detailed explanation of the specific skills is located at ASHA.org.
- Standard V-C: The applicant must complete a minimum of 400 hours of supervised clinical experience. Your guided clinical observations will account for 25 hours. The other 375 hours will come from direct client/patient contact.
- Standard V-D: The applicant should complete at least 325 of the 400 hours of supervised clinical experience while they are enrolled in a CAA accredited program.
- Standard V-E: Clinical educators who have an ASHA certification in the appropriate field can provide supervision. They are also eligible to become a mentor for clinical fellowships.
- Standard V-F: The supervised period must include experiences with diverse individuals. It must also include experience with patients that have a wide range of disorders at different levels.
*Note for Standard V-E: The amount of supervision should align with the student’s knowledge, skill, and experience. It must take place periodically throughout the student’s experience. Lastly, the supervision should also be sufficient enough to ensure the safety of each patient receiving services from the student.
Standard VI: Assessment
The ASHA standard of assessment states that you must pass or have passed the national exam adopted by ASHA. This exam is known as the Praxis Examination. The results of this exam must be directly submitted to ASHA from the Education Testing Service (ETS).
Unfortunately, ASHA does not accept a passing score from five years prior to or two years after the submission of an application.
Standard VII: Speech-Language Pathology Clinical Fellowship
At this point in the process, the applicant must successfully complete a Speech-Language Pathology Clinical Fellowship that fosters their continued growth. This experience spans 36 weeks and should culminate to a minimum amount of 1,260 hours.
Only after completing the graduate credit hours, coursework, and clinical experiences, though, can the CF be initiated. But the CF start date must be done within 24 months of the date that the initial application was received. Once it has begun, it must be completed within 48 months of the start date. Any experiences that are more than five years old when you apply will not be accepted.
You will also have to find a mentor for your CF. The clinician must be certified throughout the entirety of the fellowship. If the status of your mentor changes at any point, then you will only receive credits for that portion. Unfortunately, you must then find a new mentor.
The experience of the Clinical Fellowship should result in the applicant’s ability to practice independently.
Benefits of Being Certified
Though it may seem like there are a lot of ASHA certification standards to meet, the benefits are worth it.
First, this certification can aid in career advancements. Unlike non-certified professionals, you will be eligible for salary supplements in a number of states. Certification will also qualify you to be a mentor for Clinical Fellows, which means that you will be guiding future professionals.
Another benefit of being certified is that it will ease the application process of licensures. This comes into play if you were to relocate to another state.
Lastly, being certified proves your professional credibility to other professionals and to patients. ASHA certifications are voluntary, so certification shows to others that you went above and beyond the minimum requirements. It also assures clients and their families that you are more than qualified to provide care to them.
Now that you know what to expect while completing your ASHA certification and why you should consider doing so; you can confidently traverse the terrain of this process. Like all things, it will be hard, but it will be worth it!
Are you currently going through the certification process? Let us know about your experience is the comments below!