Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
Board for Hearing Aid Specialists and Opticians
Hearing Aid Specialists Regulations [18 VAC 80 ‑ 20]
Action Amendments to Board for Hearing Aid Specialists Regulations 2012
Comment Period Ended on 3/14/2012
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3/14/12  11:39 am
Commenter: Verleyne Andrews, B.A., James Madison University

Audiologists Exceed Requirements and Expectations

As a third year Doctoral student in Clinical Audiology at James Madison University, I believe that the Board for Hearing Aid Specialists Regulations are an important point of discussion. I understand that historically, an Audiologist's training with hearing aids may have been limited, due to the fact that there was less time allocated for training in this area. Audiologists have since transitioned from Master’s level requirements to Doctoral level requirements.

It is also important to keep a few key questions in mind as we discuss changes to the current regulations:

  1. Are other professionals like ourselves required to complete unnecessary examinations in order to practice? Optometrists? Physical Therapists? Occupational Therapists?
  2. Who benefits from this additional time consuming and costly licensing requirement?
  3. How does an additional, redundant examination speak to the quality of care that a Doctor of Audiology provides to their patients?
  4. Does the training given in the Doctor of Audiology program speak for itself and how does it compare to the requirements for licensing?
  5. Who else is required to take the dispensing examination, and what are their qualifications?

Without intending to offend anyone, I dare say, this requirement is not simply redundant, but it is demeaning to the profession of Audiology. I believe a review of some of the basic elements of the Doctor of Audiology program will reveal the irrelevance of the dispensing examination. Below is a list that not only gives an idea of the Doctoral Audiologist's training with hearing aids, but it also gives insight into the caliber of a Doctor of Audiology.

In general, Doctoral Audiology Programs include:

  1. Four (4) years of rigorous graduate course work, both didactic and practical
  2. Two semesters (7/8 Months) of course work solely dedicated to hearing aids (approx. 7 graduate level credits). In addition, hearing aid training is integrated into several, if not all other courses with discussions on hearing aid technology, professional issues, rehabilitation and counselling with regards to hearing aids, amplification for various populations including pediatric and geriatric populations, and so forth.
  3. 1800+ hours of supervised, clinical experience over a wide scope of diagnosis and assessment, rehabilitation, etc., which includes several hours involving hearing aid assessments/consultations, hearing aid fittings, hearing aid troubleshooting, with a varied clinical population.
  4. Attendance at various regional and national professional conferences which include, but are not limited to professional seminars and discussions on hearing aid technology and dispensing (ex. James Madison University's Annual Ruth Symposium, ASHA convention, AAA convention, SHAV, etc.)
  5. Hands-on experience in research across different topic areas. Most programs require a capstone project or dissertation. Many doctoral students have done research studies with hearing aids and/or involving hearing aid assessment, fitting, etc.
  6. Accreditation from the governing body for Audiology, ASHA, which keeps track of a variety of knowledge and skills areas acquired by the Doctoral student over the course of their training. By so doing they ensure that trained Doctors of Audiology across the U.S. are competent and proficient in not only hearing aids but across the breath and scope of hearing and balance disorders, assessment and treatment.
  7. For the purposes of professional certification, successful completion of the Praxis II examination in Audiology.

With these points in mind it is clear to see why the Licensing requirement currently in place is not only redundant, but is entirely unnecessary given the breath and depth of training and certification already required.

Thank You

CommentID: 23530