Caring for the long-term hearing health of our patients, our state, and our country is a big part of our mission at Audiology Associates.
That’s why on February 2nd, I testified in front of the Maryland Health and Government Operations (HGO) Committee in support of House Bill 161 and in front of the Maryland Senate Education, Health, and Educational Affairs (EHEA) Committee in support of Senate Bill 379 on February 16th.
The bill, if passed, would create Audiology Assistant positions in Maryland and require them to be licensed.
This would set a precedent of licensing individuals who work directly and indirectly with patients to the other 30 states that have not passed laws for Audiology Assistants, thus ensuring patient safety.
I see the Audiology Assistant position being the “extender” of the Audiologist, helping with routine tasks and freeing up clinical time to allow the Audiologist to be available for the more complex evaluative, diagnostic, management, and treatment required by the level of our 8-year clinical doctorate education and training.
Significant growth in the U.S. population will increase the demand for hearing and balance care services, especially in the fastest-growing aging population group over the age of 65 years.
As hearing loss prevalence and fall risk rises, the shortage of audiologists in the U.S. is worsening. Without Audiology Assistants, licensed Audiologists will not be able to keep up with the demand of the patients.
Audiologist Assistants will improve access to audiological patient care by increasing the availability of audiological services and increasing productivity by reducing wait times and enhancing patient satisfaction.
Many rural areas of Maryland, including the Eastern Shore, have limited licensed audiology providers. Busy audiology clinics/practices oftentimes have a three-week or more wait time in order for the patient to be seen.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for Audiology Assistants now more than ever.
On February 23rd, the House Bill passed the full house with a 131-1 vote in favor of HB 161. The Senate will vote on the bill in the next few weeks.
This piece of legislation is a win-win for not only our Audiology Associates providers and patients but for all of Maryland’s Audiologists and residents!