Navigating Clinical Practicum, Clinical Fellowships, and the ASHA Certification Process During COVID-19

Thanks again to everyone who joined us last month for the NSSLHA Live Chat, COVID-19: Certification and Accreditation Q&A for Students. We couldn’t get to all of your questions, so last week we addressed some questions related to navigating your grades, graduation, financial aid, the Praxis, and employment. This week, we’ve connected with our colleagues on ASHA’s Accreditation and Certification teams to share answers to common questions we’ve seen regarding clinical practicum, Clinical Fellowships, and the ASHA certification process. 

[Before you read further, we recommend you check out NSSLHA’s previous blog post, COVID-19: Guidance for Graduate Student Clinicians and Clinical Fellows, for the CFCC’s rationale behind maintaining ASHA’s clinical education requirements. Note: All allowances have been extended until December, 31, 2020.]

Graduate Student Clinicians

Will the Council for Clinical Certification (CFCC) Reduce the Number of Clinical Practicum Hours?

No, the CFCC is not reducing the number of clinical practicum hours required for audiology and SLP students. Doing so could jeopardize your preparedness for your Clinical Fellowship and could sacrifice client/patient care. For more details about the rationale for maintaining clinical education requirements, please check out NSSLHA’s previous blog post, COVID-19: Guidance for Graduate Student Clinicians and Clinical Fellows.

Other Professions are Reducing Clinical Practicum Requirements—Why Not ASHA?

ASHA often hears from students that programs like physical therapy (PT) and social work have temporarily reduced their hours. While this is true, the number of hours they require are significantly higher (980 hours for PT and 765 for social work) after the reduction, than the 400 hours required for SLP students. We understand other health professions count hours differently, so it is difficult to compare what’s required of SLP students versus what’s required of another profession.

Can I Begin My Clinical Fellowship If I Don’t have 400 Hours by the Time I Graduate?

No, programs are expected to provide opportunities to ensure students complete the minimum amount of supervised clinical practicum hours to meet graduation requirements, as well as state and national credentialing requirements. Programs must also ensure all competencies are met. Incomplete hours cannot be rolled into the beginning of your Clinical Fellowship since there could be unintended state licensure consequences.

Can I Complete My Clinical Practicum Hours Through Telepractice/Telesupervision?

Yes, the CFCC is permitting clinical practicum hours be earned through telepractice with telesupervision, with all parties remote from each other. There’s no cap on the number of hours that can be earned through telepractice with telesupervision.

What Constitutes “Undergraduate Hours” in ASHA’s SLP Certification Standards?

The CFCC permits up to 50 hours of supervised clinical practicum completed during your undergraduate program to be applied to the required 375 hours for ASHA certification. These hours must have been supervised in accordance with the standards and must be within the scope of practice as an SLP. Hours completed through undergraduate SLPA programs may be applied, however special education or other teacher preparation programs cannot be used, since the scope of practice of an educator is vastly different than that of an SLP.

Can I Use Clinical Simulation to Meet My Clinical Practicum Hours?

The CFCC permits SLP students to obtain 25 guided observation hours through video recordings and 75 hours of supervised clinical practicum through clinical simulation—100 of the required 400 hours. The CFCC permits audiology students to obtain 10% of their required 12 months of full-time equivalent practice through clinical simulation.

Clinical simulation may take many forms and is not limited to online platforms.

The CFCC has received many requests to increase the number of clinical simulation hours that are permitted. At this time, there’s no plan to do so. The CFCC feels it’s imperative for the remaining number of hours to be completed by providing services directly to clients/patients.

Clinical Fellows

Can I Complete Clinical Fellowship Hours Through Telepractice/Telesupervision?

Clinical Fellows are currently permitted to complete their CF through telepractice and telesupervision for the purposes of ASHA certification. Remember, as a Clinical Fellow you are an independent service provider, not a student. You must make sure you’re following all state licensure (or school credential) laws, policies, and procedures.

How Can I Find a Clinical Fellowship Experience During the Pandemic?

During this pandemic, each state has its own plan to reopen. State licensing boards all have different requirements and expectations. Individual companies have specific policies about hiring Clinical Fellows (or anyone). Please check with your state licensing board and/or your Department of Education to find out more about how you should proceed with finding employment and/or a Clinical Fellowship position.

Check out ASHA’s Career Portal for resources about how to find Clinical Fellowship opportunities.

ASHA Certification Applicants

The ability to apply for the CCC-A and CCC-SLP has not been impacted by the pandemic. ASHA Certification staff are working remotely to ensure you receive your certification in a timely manner, and there currently is no delay in processing applications. Because the CCC application is online, it can be completed from anywhere and anytime after you graduate. 

Visit the ASHA website for additional resources, including AuD and SLP timelines and steps for applying for ASHA certification.

Here for You

There are still many unknowns about COVID-19 and its impacts, and we’re learning right along with you. The CFCC is working with you and your programs as best they can to make adjustments that don’t compromise your education, experiences, ability to obtain certification and state licensure, ability to remain portable and move state to state, and client/patient safety. 

Please remember that changes happen quickly as we learn more about how this pandemic continues to affect us all. All updates are posted on the CFCC’s COVID-19 Guidance webpage. The CFCC wants to hear from you and your programs about possible solutions to consider. If you have ideas, please email them to the CFCC at cfcc@asha.org or ASHA’s Certification team certification@asha.org. The CFCC will review them as quickly as possible.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *