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Hello

I'm Marissa Rocheleau, a speech pathologist and business owner interested in helping others learn about ASHA (the American Speech-Language Hearing Association), what it does and doesn't do for its members, and how this impacts speech pathologists nationwide. 

My Story

I graduated in 2012 with a Masters Degree in speech language pathology at a Big 10 School, one of I think the top five in the nation at the time. I had always been under the impression that I needed a Masters degree to get any sort of real footing financially in today's job market, so I had been planning for this, but it still cost me $50,000 after small scholarships for academic merit and one of a few highly sought after TA positions. And I count myself lucky that that is all the debt I incurred, as I've known others in my field who have hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

Unfortunately, I quickly learned that the workings of being a speech pathologist were much more difficult than my professors and career research had led me to believe. I made $40,000 out of the gate, where I had to work part-time at multiple jobs to complete my Clinical Fellowship (CF). My pay didn't significantly rise after receiving my CCCs (Certificate of Clinical Competence), which is one of the bigger draws of any certification - giving you greater credibility to warrant a higher rate. As I continued working, I experienced difficulty in finding any jobs with benefits, pay commensurate with my growing experience in an economy where inflation was rising every year, or any understanding or respect of the profession as a whole. I saw an increasing number of 1099 jobs paid at 30% of what companies charged facilities, and ASHA partnering with said companies for sponsorships. I saw online the burn out of so many professionals in SLP regardless of setting because they were overworked and exhausted and their mental health was suffering. I saw insurance and Medicaid rates falling for SLP and Audiology services and little work being done at the national level to lobby for changes that would actually impact SLPs, such as workload caps, better reimbursement rates, or interstate licensure agreements.

Each year, the $225 (now $250 as of 2025 renewals) cost of membership became more painful. When I thought about leaving the field in 2017-2018, I considered letting the certification lapse even though I had worked so hard to get it. But I learned that if I did and ever needed it again (as some jobs require), I'd potentially have to retake the Praxis or go back to grad school for updated course requirements. So I kept it. But I began to wonder what ASHA really did for me to cost that much each year. With the help of research by FixSLP, I started learning about how much money there really was in ASHA and where it went. I also learned about the percentage of participating SLPs compared to other professionals (PT, OT, e.g.) and how their dues were spent towards lobbying efforts and advocacy. 

2018 - Original Letter to ASHA

By 2018, I had heard enough similar complaints that I knew it wasn't just me in the profession feeling these pains and wondering what ASHA brought to the table. So I put those thoughts to words to talk with ASHA directly. If they didn't know our grievances, how could they possibly fix them? 

I gathered over 350 signatures of other SLPs, and while ASHA did respond, their letter was less than satisfying. In short, SLPs in 2024 are still feeling the effects of the concerns mentioned in 2018 despite any of the enumerated efforts of ASHA. You can read the full letter and their response here.

2020 - Crying in Your Car Incident and Letter to Editor

In 2020, the ASHA Leader (the monthly magazine subscription that all ASHA members get) published an article by Kari Knutson, MA that discussed emotional intelligence in relation to stress management. She recommended things such as self-awareness, exercise, and self-care, but mentioned specifically that when stressed, you should consider crying in your car. You can read the full article here. Please note: the article has since been amended to remove the phrase "crying in your car" as ASHA states, "We removed that phrase in response to readers' reaction."

Readers got arguably the most upset they had at ASHA publically after this was published. To blame ASHA alone for what we all experienced during 2020 would be naive, but it did come as a rather out of touch take on the stress experienced by its members. 

In response, I wrote a letter to the editor regarding the article. You can read that letter and their response here

Fix.SLP

In 2023, a new Instagram account called Fix.SLP started posting more information about ASHA's inner workings, finances, and certifications vs. memberships. Reading information from their posts or website directly will give you the greatest insight, but in short, they have highlighted:

1. ASHA differs significantly from other membership organizations such as the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), in that:

a. AOTA and APTA only offer memberships ($229 and $295 per year respectively) but no certifications. ASHA offers a $29 membership, but requires $221/year for a certification that renews every three years. It is misleading to label certification fees as membership dues when the two are in fact separate.

b. Because membership is separate from certification, it does not make sense to require renewal of what it arguably a one-time milestone. Certification should be billed and given once at the completion of a Masters program, the Praxis, and a Clinical Fellowship. Membership then comes in for maintaining a relationship of a professional organization.

c. Less services are offered as a part of ASHA membership than AOTA/APTA (access to CEUs, percent of dues spent on advocacy, etc.)

2. ASHA has lobbied for states to require the CCCs to practice or bill for Medicaid, meaning that many professionals have to keep their CCCs for employment purposes 

You can see their full post history on Instagram here. They also have a podcast. If you are interested in volunteering or donating, they were looking for help from speech pathologists and audiologists as of 2023. They also have a Pumble community to get involved.

As Fix.SLP states, they didn't start the conversation. We can thank users like @jrc_theslp, @ianessahumbert, @decolonizeslp, and @theadvocateslp for helping with that. Their frank discussions for the past few years really highlight how long these issues have persisted. (If you'd like to read their stories, click here.) But in light of ASHA increasing their certification annual rate to $250/year, many SLPs are fed up and ready for some change. 

If that's you, please look through some of the resources provided here and get involved how you can. The more people that share their concerns through calls, letters, reviews, and abandoning the CCCs, the more ASHA will be forced to act in the interest of its members. 

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