Editor’s Note: Following the Hearing News Watch story last week, Department of Labor Withdraws Apprenticeship Program for Hearing Instrument Specialists, we received a number of comments. We wanted to share one of those comments today with our readers.
The content of today’s post was received from Richard Giles, President-Elect of the International Hearing Society (IHS). According to Mr. Giles, the content of this post is an edited version of comments recently published on the IHS “Hearing Hub” forum by Alissa Parady, IHS Director of Governmental Affairs.
Below find the whole story, it is truly unfortunate that mis-information is often reported as fact.
It has come to our attention that inaccurate information is being spread in the audiology community regarding the U.S. Department of Labor Hearing Aid Specialist Apprenticeship Program guidelines. IHS values transparency; therefore, we want to address the misstatements and share with you some facts.
1) The DOL guidelines were not “rescinded” as the audiology organizations have stated. The DOL has temporarily suspended the program. This action comes partially as a result of objections made by the audiology groups that they should have been consulted in the DOL’s approval process and their unfounded belief that the program impacts hearing aid specialists’ scope of practice, which is in no way true. IHS could not idly stand by and have organized audiology dictate our hearing aid specialist training program, and therefore we agreed with the Department of Labor to suspend and resubmit the program. In doing so, the DOL can revise the review process as needed to move the program towards active status again.
2) The audiology organizations pushed back on the guidelines with comments IHS couldn’t accept. For example, they took issue with hearing aid specialists learning how to “interpret” audiometric tests, hearing aid evaluations, and validation testing; hearing aid specialists learning about aural rehabilitation and tympanometry; and even learning tasks such as tracking changes in a patient’s hearing and health. They took issue with the use of books that have been the core of IHS’ Distance Learning program for years. And they took issue with portions of a non-binding “Description” of the profession, which has no bearing on the lawful practice of hearing aid specialists.
IHS supports hearing aid specialists having well-rounded education and training experiences that best prepare them for independent practice. Nothing contained within the guidelines breaks new ground; it simply establishes the gold-standard learning for apprentices based on existing standards. More importantly, the guidance is just that. State apprenticeship agencies are expected to work with licensing boards to ensure the program is consistent with state licensing laws and standards.
Please note that the DOL program being suspended is not new news. The DOL notice was released in July – four months ago. Rather it appears the audiology organizations may be trying to drum up controversial news to divert attention away from IHS’ recent win on Fit to Serve.
What it most certainly is, however, is an attempt to diminish the role of the hearing aid specialist in the provision of hearing healthcare, and we will not stand by and let that happen.