HB 2589, the bill that licenses speech-language pathologists and audiologists who do not work in schools, passed the Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Locke, effective beginning January 1, 2003. Many WSLHA members have asked, “What will happen now?” This article will address the most frequently asked questions about the new law.
Who will have to be licensed?
All speech-language pathologists and audiologists who work in non-school settings will have to be licensed by January 1, 2003. If you are certified as an educational staff associate (ESA) and you only work in the schools, you do not have to be licensed, although you can choose to if you prefer. If you work as an ESA in the schools and you work in a non-school setting, you will have to be licensed because of your work outside the school.
When will the Department of Health (DOH) make the transition from certification to licensure?
The law becomes effective on January 1, 2003. This means that all speech-language pathologists and audiologists who practice in a non-school setting will be issued a license by January 1, 2003. In May, DOH will send notices to all speech-language pathologists and audiologists in the state, notifying them of the new licensure requirement. Those speech-language pathologists and audiologists who are not currently certified will also receive a licensure application. DOH plans to transfer all currently certified speech-language pathologists and audiologists to licensure status beginning in June. DOH will then process new applications throughout the summer and fall.
What if I’m currently certified by the Department of Health?
If you are currently certified by the state, you will be “grandfathered” into licensure. This means that when your certificate expires for the current year, you will simply be issued a new document that states you are licensed instead of certified. Since the renewal of your credential depends on when your birthday is, you may receive a certificate instead of the new license. For example, if your birthday is on May 30th, you will likely receive a new certificate simply because DOH won’t have the process in place yet to issue a license to you. In that case, later in 2002, you will receive your license. You will not have to pay an additional fee to receive your license.
What if I’m not currently certified?
If you are not currently certified by the Department of Health, you will have to apply for a license. The application process for licensure will be the same as the certification process. The current requirements for certification will be the requirements for licensure. These requirements mirror those required to receive your ASHA CCCs. Thus, in order to receive a state license you must pass the National Examination in Audiology or Speech-language Pathology; not have committed unprofessional conduct as specified by the state Uniform Disciplinary Act; have a master’s degree or the equivalent, or a doctorate degree or the equivalent, from a program at a State Board of Hearing and Speech-approved institution of higher learning, which includes completion of a supervised clinical practicum experience; and complete postgraduate professional work experience approved by the State Board of Hearing and Speech.
What if I was certified, but let my certification lapse?
You have two options under this scenario. You can opt to apply for a license, which means you will have to go through the application process again. You will have to provide transcripts, proof of passing the national exam, etc. You will be starting the credentialing process from the beginning. You will pay $225.
Or you can opt to renew your lapsed certificate. You will complete an abbreviated application form and provide documentation that you have not been restricted in your practice in any way, provide any other documentation DOH may require. If your certification has lapsed for one year or less, you will pay a late renewal penalty of $100 and a current renewal fee of $200. If your certification has lapsed for more than one year, you will pay the late renewal penalty of $100, the current renewal fee of $200, and an expired credential reissuance fee of $100.
Obviously, you will pay a higher fee to renew your lapsed credential than you would if you are simply applying for the license. However, with renewing your certificate you avoid the “hassle factor” of completing a new application.
What will I have to pay?
The current fee structure will remain in place, at least through the next year. Thus, the initial application fee will be $225 and the renewal fee will be $200. DOH will be conducting a fee study of the Hearing and Speech Program in 2003 to determine whether fees can be lowered, now that there are more licensees in the program. Here are some examples of what fee you will pay in the next six months:
Your current certificate will expire on your birthday, May 30, 2002. You will pay $200 to renew this certificate. Sometime this summer or fall, you will receive a new document, a license, from DOH. You will not have to pay another fee for the license. This license will be good through May 30th, 2003, when you will have to renew and pay the renewal fee.
Your birthday is in February and you renewed your certificate then. In this case, you will simply receive your license from DOH sometime in the summer or fall. You will not have to pay another fee for the license. You will renew your license on your birthday in February 2003.
Your birthday is in November and you have never been certified. You will receive a license application from DOH this summer or fall. You must apply for your license by the end of the year. You will pay an initial application fee of $225. Your license will be good through your birthday in 2003. Then you will pay the renewal fee.
Your birthday is in January and you have never been certified. You will receive a license application from DOH this summer or fall. You must apply for your license by the end of the year. You will pay an initial application fee of $225. Your license will be good through your birthday in 2004. Then you will pay the renewal fee. You will not have to reapply for a license on your January 2003 birthday.
What if I was certified several years ago, and let my certificate lapse?
DOH is currently researching whether they would treat you as a renewal of a lapsed license or a new applicant. Look for the answer on WSHA’s website soon.
What if I don’t apply for a license?
After January 1, 2003, you must have a license in order to practice. You will be in violation of the law and subject to sanctions if you are not licensed by January 1st.
As the implementation of the licensure law begins, there will be more questions. WSHA will try to answer all of your questions via the WSHA website. In addition, when you receive your application packets from DOH, there will be DOH contact information included.
Bogard & Associates