Twenty years ago, a group of Academy members came together to develop a certification that would serve audiologists by verifying credentials in an independent process that offers an alternative to the American Speech–Language–Hearing Association Certificate of Clinical Competence–Audiology. They developed a program of rigorous education and experience verification with strong continuing education requirements and called it Board Certified in Audiology, in recognition of the substantial requisites. Today, about 10 percent of the Academy membership, and another 100-plus non-members, have earned the credential. The Board Certified in Audiology certification is recognized by most states and employers as a valid professional verification credential for audiologists.
A number of certification holders are audiologists who are looking to set themselves apart from the body of licensed audiologists with whom they compete for employment or patients. Others are comforted by the fact that an independent credential verification may serve to facilitate license portability and is helpful when applying to third party payers to be an in-network provider.
The ABA Board of Directors has been addressing the question of why more audiologists have not adopted the credential. The cost of the credential and access to Tier-1 and ethics CEUs have been stated as primary obstacles by those choosing not to adopt or renew certification. The board recognizes that audiologists also bear significant costs in time and money for state licensure and professional association memberships.
In an effort to make the voluntary certification program accessible to more audiologists, the ABA board implemented changes to the program. In brief, we decided to reduce the certification fee for Academy members by 50 percent and move to an annual billing and CE requirement cycle. Further, the guidelines for Tier- 1 CE offerings are being revised to facilitate the process for CE providers to offer Tier-1 coursework.
The ABA wants to offer more Academy members the opportunity to obtain a certification that still has the most rigorous continuing education requirement in the profession yet at a reduced cost. In making these changes, the ABA board also decided to change the name of the credential to American Board of Audiology Certified, which can be shortened in professional signatures to ABA Certified or even ABAC.
The Academy board of directors and staff fully supported these decisions, which were announced at AAA 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. The changes will be rolled out over the spring to be fully implemented by July 1, 2019.