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We are reaching out to provide an update on Senate Bill 419 relating to cerumen management by hearing instrument specialists. The legislation circulated in late August. The WSHA board was notified, reviewed, and deliberated the proposal. That included outreach to both ASHA and AAA, and legislative sponsors.
The bill will allow a hearing instrument specialist to engage in cerumen management if a hearing instrument specialist completes courses in cerumen management identified and approved by the Hearing and Speech Examining Board, including a final examination. The bill directs the Hearing and Speech Examining Board to promulgate rules to implement the cerumen management certification, including rules to define the scope of cerumen management and to establish proper infection control practices.
Legislators across the country, including here in Wisconsin, are looking to address access to care issues and provider shortages by advancing legislation that allows providers to practice at “the top of their scope,” expand scope of practice, and even create new mid-level providers. We see similar proposals affecting physicians, dentists, dental hygienists, nurse practitioners, and more. We know these cannot be the only solutions and we recognize the scope creep in Senate Bill 419. That said, proposals similar to Senate Bill 419 have moved quickly in other states. After much discussion the WSHA Board opted to communicate the importance of adequate training, education, and oversight by the Hearing and Speech Examining Board, which was maintained in the bill.
It is incumbent upon us as professionals, and members of WSHA, to educate patients and consumers about the important differences between hearing instrument specialists and audiologists.
We did hear from several AuD members that disagreed with WSHA’s decision. We understand their concern and appreciate the open dialogue. WSHA intends to be engaged in the rule making process and will work closely with our AuD members at that stage. We will express our concerns about consumer safety and will stress the importance of proper training and oversight from the Hearing and Speech Examining Board.
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