Perhaps you’re beginning grad school, are about to complete your AuD or Master’s in SLP program, or are a recent graduate. Regardless of where you are in your graduate education, it never hurts to look ahead and prepare for the future.
I’m currently working as a CF-SLP four days per week in a local critical access hospital, as well as PRN in the acute care setting at a larger facility. But as I complete the last of my clinical fellowship experiences, I think back to when I graduated and the feelings of anxiety I had.
I was worried about finding an SLP Clinical Fellowship (CF) position and moving to a new state where I didn’t have connections to other professionals or job opportunities and wasn’t familiar with their state licensure requirements. As my graduation date loomed and I packed up my apartment, I set to work learning the ins and outs of the CF-SLP experience, the ASHA certification process, and clinical licensure in this new state. I hope I can pass on a few tips that I learned and some resources to help you prepare for the road ahead . . .
ASHA Certification and State Licensure
Once you’ve completed your education, the next step is to complete your AuD externship or SLP Clinical Fellowship (CF) and work toward ASHA certification and state licensure.
It’s important to understand that the requirements for the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A) and Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) are different from the requirements for licensure at the state level.
While this makes the process a bit more complex, with a little bit of research and preparation, you can navigate both processes with confidence.
General Tips for AuD and SLP Grads
- Do Your Research: Navigating CF requirements, ASHA certification, and state licensure can feel daunting, especially if you’re considering career opportunities across state lines. But these resources can help you prepare and ensure a smooth transition into your career as an audiologist or SLP.
- Prepare Yourself: The more familiar you are with the ASHA certification process and your state’s licensure requirements before graduation, the more confident you’ll feel and the less likely you are to experience any unpleasant surprises along the way.
For SLP Grads: Tips for Navigating Your Clinical Fellowship (CF)
- Review ASHA’s CF Requirements: Check out A Guide to the ASHA Clinical Fellowship Experience to learn more about the duration of the CF experience, supervision requirements, tips for choosing a mentor, and more.
- Research Your CF Supervisor: Before you even start your CF, be sure you’ll be receiving appropriate supervision from a qualified supervisor. If CF requirements aren’t met because of a non-qualified supervisor, you won’t be able to count those hours toward your CF experience. CF supervisors must hold current CCC-SLP status, have at least 9 months of professional work experience after being awarded the CCC-SLP, and must have completed 2 hours of professional development in supervision. You can verify a potential supervisor’s ASHA certification status and their eligibility to provide supervision by using the ASHA Certification and Ethics Verification tool.
- Ask Questions: Even if a job posting lists the CCC-SLP as a requirement, they may accept a clinical fellow. In my experience, the hiring personnel at some facilities are simply unfamiliar with the SLP clinical fellowship requirement. It never hurts to apply! It’s how I began my clinical fellowship experience at a rural hospital!
- Maximize Your CF Experience: Meeting the basic requirements of the CF experience is a minimum. You can maximize your experience by seeking positions with supportive mentorship to help you grow as a clinician. I certainly understand the pressure of needing to find a job right away. However, you’re a valuable clinician and a person worthy of respect. You deserve to find a position that fosters your professional growth and helps you reach your career goals. Perhaps you do need to accept a position to get started and/or to work toward a desired work setting (in my case, acute care); but you’re always allowed to leave a position that isn’t serving you—even during your CF. You’re allowed to prioritize your well-being over the needs of an organization.
Tips for Navigating the ASHA Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Certification Process
- Start Your CCC-A or CCC-SLP Application Early! You can begin your application as soon as you’ve completed your AuD or master’s degree. Then, you have two years from that date to successfully pass the Praxis exam and initiate your CF experience.
SLP Grads: This means starting your application before completing your clinical fellowship! This way, you can ensure that everything in your application is complete and approved. You’ll only need to submit your CF reports as you go to complete the application and obtain certification at the end of your CF experience.
- Take Advantage of ASHA’s New Professional Membership Package. When you apply for both ASHA membership and certification between January 1 and August 31 (the year after you graduate), you could receive up to two years of ASHA membership for the price of one! Maximize your membership benefits and savings by applying in January of the year you’re completing your CF.
- Take Advantage of the NSSLHA to ASHA Membership Conversion Discount. This is an additional one-time discount of $225 off the initial dues and fees for ASHA membership and certification. To be eligible, you must be a National NSSLHA member for the last two years of your master’s or doctoral program (including the year you graduate). To receive the discount, you must complete your CCC-A or CCC-SLP application before August 31 (up to a year after you graduate).
Tips for Navigating State Licensure
- Review Requirements for State Licensure, Specific to Your State. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have specific licensure requirements that vary across state lines, based on the setting where you intend to work (e.g., schools vs. medical). Additionally, there is variability at the state level regarding licensure of clinical fellows. Be sure to review licensure and supervision requirements in each state where you’re interested in working.
- Provisional Licensure: Many states require a provisional license for clinical fellows to practice, so you’ll want to apply for this provisional license early after graduation to begin your CF experience, if necessary. On the other hand, some states do not require a license for clinical fellows, so you won’t need to worry about this step until a bit later—but it should still be on your radar.
There are a lot of moving parts to consider as you enter the professional world as a new audiologist or SLP. My greatest piece of advice is to trust yourself as you navigate this process. Plan ahead, whenever possible; but recognize that you may face some challenges. Take any bumps along the way in stride and trust that you can do this.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A lot of incredible audiologists and SLPs have been exactly where you are now. Don’t hesitate to seek support from trusted advisors when you need it.
You’ve made it this far—you’re capable!