Section 198. (a) The board shall establish the requirements for registration of apprentice hearing instrument specialists and shall promulgate the rules and regulations consistent with law as may be necessary. A person registered as an apprentice by the board may engage in the dispensing of hearing aids without first having met the requirements under subsection (f) of section 197. The board shall promulgate rules and regulations to establish an apprentice training program which may include a board approved home study course. The board shall register as an apprentice and issue a certificate of registration to an applicant who has shown to the satisfaction of the board that the applicant: (1) is at least 18 years of age; (2) has a high school diploma or its equivalent; (3) is registered in a board approved training program; (4) has an identified supervisor who is a person registered in good standing in the commonwealth as a hearing instrument specialist or licensed as an audiologist and who has agreed to perform supervisory functions as described in subsection (c); and (5) has paid the board a fee which shall be set by the secretary of administration and finance. The certificate of registration for an apprentice shall include the name of the hearing instrument specialist who is supervising the apprentice and such supervisor shall execute an acknowledgment of responsibility for all acts of the apprentice in connection with hearing aid dispensing.
(b) Upon completion of the training program, the apprentice shall take the board approved examination. Following three failed examinations, an apprentice shall only be reexamined at the discretion of the board.
(c) An apprentice shall perform the functions of a hearing instrument specialist in accordance with board rules only under the supervision of a registered hearing instrument specialist or licensed audiologist. Such supervision shall be direct, on site and full-time, or the equivalent part time, for a minimum of 30 days after the initial hiring of the apprentice.
“Direct supervision”, as used in this section, shall mean all of the following: (1) the supervisor shall be present within the office to which the apprentice is assigned 100 per cent of the time; (2) the supervisor shall be physically present in the same work area with the apprentice at a minimum of 50 per cent of the time in which the apprentice is providing services; (3) the supervisor shall approve the selection of a hearing aid by an apprentice; (4) the supervisor shall physically oversee all testing and taking of ear mold impressions by the apprentice and shall approve in writing the results of all hearing tests done by the apprentice; (5) the supervisor shall countersign all sales documents prepared and consummated by the apprentice.
Subsequent to the period of direct, on-site supervision, the supervisor shall review and approve in writing all hearing aid fittings by the apprentice, including physical inspection of ear mold impressions, ear mold plans and hearing aid recommendations and fittings. The supervisor shall give final approval to work performed by the apprentice and shall attempt to contact the consumer who purchased the hearing aid by phone or through a follow-up appointment within one week to ensure satisfaction with the fitting.
The supervisor shall be responsible for providing supervision until either of the following occurs: (1) the apprentice obtains a certificate of registration as a hearing instrument specialist from the board; or (2) the supervisor or apprentice gives written notification to the board that he is terminating supervision and training.
An apprentice shall complete the minimum of 12 months under supervision as described in this subsection even if a board approved test has been successfully passed, prior to being granted a license as hearing instrument specialist.
(d) The board shall develop standards and regulations governing dispensing practices related to home visits. An apprentice engaging in hearing aid dispensing, after the initial period of direct supervision, shall be subject to all standards of dispensing and related penalties and fines pertaining to hearing instrument specialists.
(e) An apprentice registration shall expire 18 months from the date of its issuance except that, on recommendation of the board, the registration may be reissued for 18 months only.