The National Competency Standards are intended to:
1. fully articulate the minimum skills, knowledge and behaviours required for ‘entry level’ practice for audiologists in Australia
2. provide the standards against which the public can expect safe practice
3. become the primary document which describes the professional attributes and skills required for audiologists to work across multiple contexts in an increasingly complex health system
4. become the primary document which supports further recognition of the profession as highly qualified health professionals and a key component of the Australian health and ageing sector.
‘Entry level’ refers to the expected minimum standard of audiologists considered to be qualified and competent to undertake independent clinical decision making without supervision once they have completed their Clinical Internship.
When the National Competency Standards come into being:
1. The CPD events you participate in will reflect required skills and knowledge as outlined in the National Competency Standards
2. If you are an overseas-qualified audiologist, the assessment of your application will be guided by the National Competency Standards
3. If you are returning to practice after a period of time away, the assessment of your application will be guided by the National Competency Standards
4. If you are a student member, you will know exactly which competencies are expected of you as an entry level practitioner on completion of your internship
5. Clients and other health professionals you work with will know what to expect in terms of the knowledge and skills you have as an accredited audiologist.
In 2019, Audiology Australia commenced development of the National Competency Standards project. The first stage in this project was in the form of a discussion paper setting out an overview of the project and an introduction to current practice as it relates to the use and structure of competency frameworks in Australia and internationally. The second stage was to seek feedback from members on the preferred model with which to structure the National Competency Standards.
Two possible models, ‘domains’ and ‘roles’, with which to structure the National Competency Standards, were presented to members via a survey in late 2019. There was a clear preference among respondents for the domains model which describes the action of the health professional, as opposed to the roles model which describes the health professional themselves.
The Audiology Australia Board decided to structure the National Competency Standards with a domains model. These domains will serve as the headings under which individual competency standards are grouped. Six domains have been chosen as an initial selection:
1. Audiological clinical expertise
2. Professional communications
3. Advocacy and collaboration
4. Education and lifelong learning
5. Practice management and compliance
6. Ethical and professional behaviour
We ran an information session in June 2020 at which we invited members to participate in our three online workshops in July. Each workshop focused on two of our six domains, and members brainstormed ideas on competencies that could be included within each domain. The input was in the form of rough ideas, points to consider, single words and fully formed sentences. It was extremely valuable and will form the basis for the next steps in the project. Thank you to everyone for your contributions. Your input will directly influence the setting of the competency standards, key definitions and content.
The next stage of the project involves drafting the competencies themselves. The National Competency Standards Working Group will review and collate the information gathered at the workshops, and develop a first draft of the competencies. This work will also involve reviewing the six domains selected. This first draft of the National Competency Standards will form the basis of further consultation later in 2020.
We look forward to and welcome your future contributions to the project.
Will the National Competency Standards come into effect on completion of the AudA Clinical Internship?
Yes. The National Competency Standards will be entry-level – they are intended to become the minimum standard of practice for audiologists who have completed their Clinical Internship and are considered sufficiently experienced and competent to practice independently or without supervision. They will continue to apply once audiologists have become a full member of AudA and a practising AudA Accredited Audiologist.
Will the National Competency Standards differ from the competencies that apply to the university programs?
Yes. Competencies that are within the university program are called Core Knowledge and Competencies Required of Master of Audiology Graduates in Australia (CKCs). The CKCs are used by the universities to set the curriculum and assessments of their students. Audiology Australia assesses each university’s progress in ensuring all students have attained the CKCs and accredits the university program accordingly. The National Competency Standards, however, will be designed for all AudA Accredited Audiologists, from their entry to the profession during the lifetime of their membership.
Will the National Competency Standards differ from the Professional Practice Standards?
The Professional Practice Standards are non-mandatory guidelines for businesses for practice operation and clinical practice and/or for individual clinicians who are interested in exploring a topic in more detail. The National Competency Standards set out the minimum competencies expected of all AudA Accredited Audiologists.
Will the National Competency Standards relate to the Scope of Practice?
The Scope of Practice provides an overview of the services that may be offered by appropriately qualified and experienced audiologists in Australia practising the profession of audiology. The National Competency Standards will describe the minimum competencies that every AudA Accredited Audiologist is required to have. While they have a different focus, it will be useful to refer to the Scope of Practice when developing the National Competency Standards to ensure that all required competencies are included.
What are the features of a useful set of competencies?
Current best practice dictates the use of broader statements as opposed to a very detailed task list. Competencies should allow for professional judgement and for application for a variety of purposes and within diverse settings. A set of competencies is a work in progress - it recognises that the profession changes as the knowledge and evidence base changes. The competencies, therefore, should be reviewed regularly, ideally every five years or so. Accordingly, the National Competency Standards would not be regarded as ‘complete’, but as a document capturing the minimum competencies expected of the AudA Accredited Audiologist at that time.
The majority of competency frameworks among Australian and overseas health professions use two or three categories. The first category is the topic (we have selected six draft Domains), the second category comprises the main competency statements (often referred to as key elements or essential competencies, and typically between 20 and 40 in number), and these might be further explained by a number of sub-competencies (often referred to as performance criteria or enabling competencies).
How will the National Competency Standards deal with more experienced audiologists?
The National Competency Standards will describe the minimum competencies expected of an AudA Accredited Audiologist. The minimum requirements apply equally to those entering the profession on completion of their internship, and to those with many years’ experience across a range of audiological settings. While a more experienced audiologist would be expected to have more competencies than those described in the National Competency Standards, they will have at least those specified.
Is input from members from any region, background and workplace sought during the development of the National Competency Standards?
Will members be consulted on the proposed National Competency Standards before they are adopted?
Yes. There will be consultation with all members and other stakeholders on a draft before a proposed version of the National Competency Standards goes to the Audiology Australia Board for final approval. Members are also encouraged to provide their comments about the National Competency Standards at any stage via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
When will the National Competency Standards be finalised?
Our aim is to submit them to the AudA Board for approval by the end of June 2021.
For further information about the National Competency Standards, please contact Georgie Bodman at email@example.com or 03 9940 3900.