What is the Agreement for the Mutual Recognition of Professional Association Credentials (MRA)?
The Updated 2017 Agreement for the Mutual Recognition of Professional Association Credentials (MRA) is an agreement between the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), the Speech-Language & Audiology Canada (SAC), the Irish Association for Speech and Language Therapists (IASLT), the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) and the Speech Pathology Association of Australia Limited (Speech Pathology Australia). This agreement allows eligible members of each association to apply for mutual recognition of their credentials with another signatory association. The premise of substantial equivalence underlies the agreement, i.e. under certain terms and conditions an individual’s credentials are deemed substantially equivalent. This is not equality or reciprocity as each of the signatory associations has specific requirements for applicants, e.g. currently, AHSA requires evidence of passing the ASHA-approved national certification examination for members of IASLT, NZSTA, RCSLT, and Speech Pathology Australia.
Registered members of NZSTA (with the exception of those who graduated before 1993) are eligible to apply for either certification or membership with any of the signatory associations. In order to attain full membership or certification of a signatory association, NZSTA members must meet a number of additional requirements specified by each association. These can be viewed by visiting each association’s website. For example, individuals considering applying for certification with SAC are advised to keep a record of direct audiology contact hours as this association requires ‘Evidence of education and supervised practicum experience in assessment and treatment in audiology/hearing science.’
What is the purpose of the MRA?
The intent and purpose of the MRA is to improve the mobility of individuals with approved credentials and to provide an expedited process for applying to become a certified or full member of a signatory association. It will also facilitate ongoing knowledge in terms of research, professional development, emerging technologies, and other aspects of professional practice thus benefiting the wider international community.
What does the Agreement mean for certificate holders or members from one of the signatory associations?
The Agreement provides certificate holders or members of the signatory associations, a means of applying for, and attaining certification or membership with any of the other signatory associations. The Agreement acknowledges that the standards required for certification or membership with one association are substantially equivalent to, or meet the requirements required for certification or membership with any of the other signatory associations. Once members have been certified by or granted membership with a new association they are subject to the same rights, privileges, responsibilities, obligations, and restrictions as all other members of the new association. This includes adherence to membership and certification reinstatement policies and procedures. Information regarding the policies and procedures for each association are provided on each of the signatory association’s website.
If I trained in a non-MRA country, but I have gained membership/ certification in one MRA country via their Qualification Approval (QA) process, does this mean I can enter all other MRA countries?
No, unfortunately, the MRA is based on equivalency of those trained in the country of an Association including accreditation of training programmes in that country. The QA in each country is not equivalent and therefore it is not possible to enter through MRA if you are a member of a MRA country, but trained in a non-MRA country. You will need to apply through QA.
I am not eligible to apply for certification or membership with the signatory associations under MRA. Can I still apply for membership or certification with these associations?
Yes. For information on alternative membership and certification procedures and the requirements of each association please visit the association’s website.
How do NZSTA members apply for membership with a signatory association under MRA?
NZSTA members who wish to apply for mutual recognition of their credentials with another of the signatory associations must apply to the national office of the association with whom they wish to attain certification or membership.
Applicants must also request a letter of good standing be sent by NZSTA to the new association attesting that the applicant is a Registered Member of the NZSTA. In order to demonstrate that you are in “good standing” with the NZSTA, you must:
- be a current Registered Member
- have been a Registered Member for the last 12 consecutive months
- have no outstanding fees with NZSTA
- have no conviction for a criminal offence or any conviction for an offence related to the practice of speech language therapy
- not have been the subject of a finding of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity by your employer or any other body
- have never been disciplined or sanctioned, or have any disciplinary proceedings pending again you before any professional association, professional licensing authority or board, or other professional regulatory body
- have an up-to-date and sufficient CPD record
- have received supervision at least four (4) times in the previous 12 months
- have been working in New Zealand in the previous 12 months and be able to provide evidence of this
- have more than 1000 hours of practice in the last 5 years
- have read and understood, the NZSTA Code of Ethics (2008) and agree to abide by this Code and any subsequent amendments. You must also understand that, should you cease to be a member, any complaint against you may be directed to the Health and Disability Commissioner for investigation.
If a new graduate joins in January 2019, works through their new graduate programme and signs the declarations in January 2020 …… they NOW meet all the criteria.
A Registered Member – Return to Practice is not eligible for a letter of good standing.
It is only by making the annual membership declaration (working hours, code of ethics, continuation of professional development/meeting requirements of Registered Membership), that the Association can attest to your good standing.
Applicants for whom English is not their first language also need to include documentation or evidence of English language proficiency necessary for competent clinical practice within the country of the new association.
Once I am certified by the new association, will I be guaranteed work in the country where the association is located?
Not necessarily. The signatory associations recognise that the Agreement does not supersede national, state, or provincial licensing or registration requirements. Applicants are advised to visit each of the association’s websites to identify the necessary agencies to contact and their requirements before pursuing certification or membership with the new association.
If I am certified by or a member of one of the signatory associations, am I automatically certified or granted membership with the other four signatory associations?
No. In order to attain certification or membership with any of the other signatory associations, you will need to submit the required application form and demonstrate that you meet any conditions specified.
If I am granted membership with any of the other signatory associations am I required to maintain my NZSTA membership?
No. However, individuals wishing to renew their NZSTA membership are responsible for maintaining affiliation and compliance with the NZSTA standards, including annual payment of fees and participation in and reporting of continuing education and/or professional development activities.
Should an individual’s membership lapse they will be required to reapply for membership (as opposed to renewing membership) under NZSTA’s policies and procedures in effect at the time of the new application.
How can long can I expect to wait for notification regarding the outcome of my application?
The average processing times for applications is about 6 weeks. Please allow for at least this as applications need to be approved by a committee of volunteers. If your application is straightforward and is sent with all the correct paperwork, the time can be less than this. But we are still dependent on our committee of volunteers to approve all applications so we are unable to guarantee quicker turnaround times.
How much does the process cost?
Fees vary as these are stipulated by the association from which you will be seeking certification or membership.
The fee for attaining NZSTA membership is under General Information and in the application form. Payment options are outlined in the application form.
What can I do if my application for certification or membership is unsuccessful?
Decisions regarding approval of certification are the sole purview of the individual associations.
The appeal process is the same afforded to all applicants of the new association. The NZSTA is permitted to request a statement of reasons for rejection of an application but cannot serve as an advocate for the applicant.
How can I find out about the MRA processes for other signatory associations?
The signatory associations’ websites are as follows:
American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA)
Speech-Language & Audiology Canada (SAC)
The Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists (IASLT)
Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT)
Speech Pathology Association of Australia Limited (Speech Pathology Australia)