Audiology Australia is currently developing a voluntary advanced paediatric audiology certification framework. This will enable Audiologists experienced in the delivery of paediatric audiology services to apply for certification identifying them as having advanced skills working with children, including on complex cases - Certified Advanced Paediatric Audiologist.
This is in line with the Paediatric Competency Standards for Audiologists developed for the Hearing Health Sector Alliance (HHSA). Funded by the Australian Government, you can access and read more about the Paediatric Competency Standards here. The competency standards have recently been endorsed by the HHSA, and adopted by Audiology Australia.
Certification will be voluntary with Audiology Australia Accredited Audiologists already considered competent to practise independently (without supervision), regardless of their paediatric certification status.
The focus of the proposed framework is to provide an avenue for certification as an advanced paediatric Audiologist, keeping the needs of the client at its core.
Survey now open
The Paediatric Certification Working Group have considered all the feedback from our February 2022 consultation activities, and have revised some key elements of the proposal. These include the eligibility criteria, the requirements to maintain certification, and the application requirements. Some significant changes have been made.
View the revised key elements of the proposal here.
We now open our September 2022 survey to all members, to comment on these draft elements.
Access the survey here.
The survey closes at 9am AEDT Thursday 6 October.
Consultation and review of the proposed framework
The Paediatric Certification Working Group was formed at the end of 2020. It reviewed models of certification used by audiology bodies internationally, and by other allied health professions in Australia. As it discussed possibilities for a draft framework, it also reviewed this against the Paediatric Competency Standards for Audiologists to ensure alignment.
Audiology Australia’s goal has been to ensure a full, constructive, and robust consultation process.
The Working Group was keen to present members with an initial proposal for a framework and invite comment on each aspect within - a survey in November 2021 was designed to facilitate this.
Two online discovery sessions were also held in December, at which the first draft of the framework was discussed.
The Working Group reviewed all the feedback on the first draft, and had specific questions and ideas regarding eligibility it was keen to seek input on in its February 2022 focus groups and survey. It invited members to discuss these aspects to inform the next iteration of the draft framework. Members were also able to submit written feedback via a survey in this consultation stage.
Parents and their consumer representatives were also invited to attend a separate focus group and survey to contribute their thoughts.
View a summary of the feedback from the focus groups and survey here.
Changes made to the proposed key elements
After considering all the feedback from the February 2022 consultation, the Working Group have made some significant changes to key elements of the proposal.
Two main eligibility pathways now feature in the proposal, and allowance has also been made for case-by-case decisions for those who do not meet the two pathways, but who believe they have equivalent experience or extenuating circumstances.
Pathway A may be suitable for more experienced paediatric Audiologists. Pathway B may generally be suitable for those with slightly less experience, or with inconsistent experience due to a variety of factors. However, it will be for each applicant to decide which pathway suits their circumstances best.
While the degree and recency of experience differ across the eligibility pathways, each pathway requires that the competencies as described in the Paediatric Audiologist area of the Paediatric Competency Standards for Audiologists are met. While the competencies required are those in this one area, the hours or years of experience can be related to any/all of the five areas of practice described in the competency standards. The experience is described according to categories of direct paediatric clinical activities, and indirect paediatric clinical activities – these categories were informed by the feedback contributed in February.
Changes have also been made to the proposed requirements to maintain certification.
The focus of the proposed framework remains, that is to provide an avenue for certification as an advanced paediatric Audiologist, keeping the needs of the client at its core. We hope, though, that the changes to the eligibility pathways, the work to define the required amount of direct and indirect paediatric clinical activities, and the changes to the requirements to maintain certification will address the concerns that the proposed hours requirement would exclude many practitioners.
Expansion of the Working Group
The Working Group has been expanded to explicitly include representation from small business, private practice, and rural/remote perspectives in response to feedback from the last survey.
After review of the key elements of the proposal based on feedback contributed via this September survey, a further survey and focus groups will be held in December 2022. A full draft of the revised proposal will be presented for discussion and feedback at these consultation activities.
Audiology Australia and the Working Group remain committed to working with members in an open and collaborative process, and this will continue at our next consultation stage in December 2022.
Implementation timeframe extended
Implementation was originally planned for 2022. The implementation date has been extended to mid-2023. This has allowed for more consultation rounds with AudA members and other stakeholders, and review of all feedback, as the framework is developed.
Who is on the Paediatric Certification Working Group?
The Working Group comprises Audiologists with experience in delivering paediatric audiology services, AudA Board members, and a consumer representative:
Jessica Vitkovic (Chair)
Ann Porter AM
Will the September 2022 survey be the last consultation stage in the project?
No. The September 2022 survey is the latest consultation stage, and after review of the proposal based on the feedback received in the survey, it will be followed by a further survey and focus groups in December 2022.
What is the timeframe for implementation?
Implementation of the certification framework is planned for mid-2023 to allow ample time to undertake further consultation rounds and review.
What is the definition of a paediatric client?
The Paediatric Competency Standards for Audiologists define a child as someone under the age of 18, thereby including infants, children, and young people. The draft certification framework aligns with the competency standards, operating with the same definition.
Will it be mandatory for anyone working in paediatric audiology to be certified?
No. The certification framework is a voluntary system. The framework is not a barrier to delivering services to children and their families. In line with the Scope of Practice, AudA Accredited Audiologists are able, and will remain able, to work with all ages, from infants to older adults.
Who is the certification framework being designed for?
The certification framework is being designed for those who want to be able to describe themselves as having the competencies of someone at an advanced level working with children, including complex cases - an experienced paediatric Audiologist. This is in line with the Paediatric Competency Standards for Audiologists.
Certification will also be valuable for consumers to understand the level of clinical expertise and the area of practice the Audiologist works in. The emphasis is on up to date clinically related experience, for example including management of a paediatric clinic, rather than purely academic experience.
Will certification apply to clinics?
Certification will apply to clinicians, not to clinics. Eligible individuals will be able to seek certification, but businesses or clinics will not be. Accordingly, conditions will apply to how certification can be advertised, and communications designed for AudA members and for the public will make those points clear.
The Paediatric Competency Standards for Audiologists include five areas - will there be separate certification available for each of these areas?
The Paediatric Competency Standards for Audiologists specifies competencies in the following five areas:
Paediatric Audiologist - Standalone or prerequisite area
Paediatric Audiologist (Diagnostic Neonate/Infant)
Paediatric Audiologist (Intervention - Hearing Aids)
Paediatric Audiologist (Intervention - Hearing Implants)
Paediatric Audiologist (Auditory Processing Disorder)
The first area, Paediatric Audiologist, includes general competencies related to matters such as legal requirements or communications, as well as competencies related to the clinical area of paediatric hearing assessment. All competencies described in the Paediatric Audiologist area are expected of any Audiologist who is also experienced and confident in any of the other four areas. This area, therefore, can operate as a standalone area, or as the prerequisite for the other areas.
The first draft of the certification framework planned for certification for each of the five areas, however it is now planned to develop certification for the Paediatric Audiologist area only. Work will be undertaken in the future to examine certification for the other four areas, with consultation to be conducted at that time.
Will those who choose not to apply for certification be able to continue working with children and their families?
Yes. Audiologists who choose not to apply for certification will be able to continue delivering paediatric audiology services.
What will distinguish an AudA Accredited Audiologist without certification in paediatric audiology, from one with certification?
Audiology Australia Accredited Audiologists are competent to practise independently with or without paediatric certification, regardless of their paediatric certification status.
What would happen to those who took maternity leave or were unable to demonstrate eligibility according to the criteria in the framework, due to personal circumstances and hardship?
Please refer to the Key elements document for details of the case-by-case eligibility pathway in the current proposal, and the application of existing AudA policies to the certification framework.
What were the models the Working Group considered when starting work on developing a draft certification framework?
The Working Group reviewed approaches taken by international audiology bodies as well as other Australian allied health professions. There were a number of models considered:
Education: Requires a higher degree qualification to be completed in the area of practice, after the original degree qualifying for the profession itself.
Professional development: Undertake a minimum number of Continuing Professional Development activities and/or other short courses, self-directed learning, supervisor led tutorials, etc, in the area of practice.
Exams and/or supervised practice also feature in some systems of certification.
For the initial proposal, the Working Group selected a model based on experience, but with a professional development component as one of the requirements in maintaining certification.
Will Audiometrists be able to continue delivering paediatric audiology services?
Yes, in line with their Scope of Practice, Audiometrists will be able to continue delivering paediatric audiology services.
The work that Audiometrists perform and the services they offer to children and their families consistent with their Scope of Practice, are not impacted or restricted by the existence of the paediatric competency standards for Audiologists.
For further information about the paediatric certification framework, please contact Georgie Bodman at Audiology Australia via email@example.com or 03 9940 3900.