New SLP Compact Will Be Something to Celebrate
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have a lot to celebrate, and not only during May’s Better Hearing and Speech Month. For starters, there is Speech-Language Pathologist Day (SLP) on May 18. Looking to the future, there is also the upcoming SLP compact for multi-state licensure.
The Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact (ASLP-IC) will make it easier for SLPs to work in states outside of their home state, in person, or using telehealth.
“It’s about access to care,” said Susan Adams, Esq., CAE, director of state legislative and regulatory affairs for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). “Consumers of our members say patients cannot find them. We want to make sure they have access to the services they need. And for our members, it is increasing where they can work.”
Creating the SLP Compact
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) spearheaded the effort to develop an SLP compact in 2015, after its members came to leadership asking for solutions to state-to-state licensing issues, including the potential of a national license. This happened long before the COVID-19 pandemic, but that public health emergency showed how vital such a compact could be.
ASHA investigated options and then signed a contract with The Council for State Governments’ National Center for Interstate Compacts to help develop a solution, which became the Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact (ASLP-IC). An advisory committee, with legislators, attorneys, professionals, and professional associations, determines the specifics of the Compact. Committee members talked with state licensing boards and other stakeholders, more than 200 people.
A drafting subcommittee drafted language and standards for states to adopt the compact. Six states passed the legislation in the first year, and 10 states, the threshold for activating the SLP compact, had adopted the compact by 2021.
Currently, 27 states have joined the ASLP-IC. Work progresses to develop a database with licensee information from member states. Adams expects SLPs in member states will be able to use the compact in 2024.
How the compact will work
First, a speech-language pathologist will need to hold a license to practice in his or her home state, namely where he or she pays taxes. Then the SLP can obtain the privilege to practice in another ASLP-IC state. This can happen in a matter of days if the licensee has no disciplinary actions in the last two years and has passed a Federal Bureau of Investigation background check.
“There are two models they are looking at,” Adams said.
The first possibility is the SLP would visit the ASLP-IC website and request the privilege to practice in another state, pay the fee and the privilege would be issued. The other option under consideration is to go to the SLP’s state licensing board and request the ability to practice in another compact state. The board would determine if the SLP is eligible to practice in the other state. Then, the SLP would pay the fee and receive the privilege to practice.
“It will depend on how robust the database is as to how it will work,” Adams said.
Benefits of the SLP Compact
The ASLP-IC offers benefits to both practitioners and the public. The compact aims to enhance continuity of care, portability for military spouses moving around, and access to audiology and speech-language pathology providers. It also will increase patients’ choices in selecting a provider.
The SLP compact also will make it faster to obtain the ability to practice in a different state – hours or days instead of the weeks or months it currently takes to secure a license in another state. Currently, an SLP who wants to work a travel assignment, make a permanent move, or use telehealth across state lines must apply for a license in another state, and send transcripts and test scores.
“It will be an easier and simpler process to get a privilege to practice,” Adams said. “It is intended to streamline that process.”
What travel locations are on your bucket list? The Med Travelers team can guide travel SLPs every step of the way in obtaining privileges to practice outside of their home state, both before and after the compact is enacted. The company also will reimburse traveling SLPs with fees related to obtaining state privileges in a state where they have accepted an assignment.
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers and practitioners moved around. The compact would have let them continue to receive care from the same SLP the patient had been working with via telehealth.
Adams urged SLPs in states that have not passed the compact legislation to contact their state lawmakers, licensing board, and the state chapters of ASHA to voice support for the ASLP-IC. They can share their stories about the importance of the SLP compact.
“That is the most helpful thing we can encourage them to do,” Adams said.
MED TRAVELERS, a company of AMN Healthcare, has hundreds of SLP travel assignments across the U.S. Our experienced team can guide you through the entire job placement process, including state licensing, housing, and relocation.