National Competency Standards for audiologists

Audiology Australia is seeking to develop competency standards and members are invited to help shape these standards.
 

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The Second Delphi round is now closed. Thank you for your contributions and feedback.

What are National Competency Standards?

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.

How will the development of National Competency Standards impact you?

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.

The project - so far

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 paper and 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.  The domains will serve as the headings under which individual competency standards are grouped.

The third stage involved online workshops in July 2020 at which members brainstormed ideas on possible wording and points to consider for competencies that could be included within each domain.

The National Competency Standards Working Group reviewed the information gathered at the workshops and found it extremely valuable in its work developing the first draft. We also researched the approach taken by other health professions in Australia, and audiology organisations internationally.

A draft set of National Competency Standards went out to members at the end of 2020 in the first round of a Delphi survey process. Feedback from the first round was reviewed, with changes made to the draft.

A second Delphi survey round was conducted in April 2021, and the feedback was reviewed.

The project – next stage

The draft is being revised, and we aim to submit it to the AudA Board by the end of July 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will existing AudA Accredited Audiologists be required to undergo assessment against the NCS?

No. While the NCS will inform the CPD events on offer so that every AudA Accredited Audiologist will be supported in maintaining and developing the skills that have been articulated as the minimum standard expected of a practitioner, existing AudA Accredited Audiologists will not undergo an assessment against the NCS.

Will Clinical Interns be assessed against the National Competency Standards (NCS)? 

Yes. The Interns will be assessed against the NCS and will be required to meet them in order to complete the Clinical Internship. NCS 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 practise without supervision. The NCS will continue to apply once the audiologist has become a full member of AudA and a practising AudA Accredited Audiologist.

As the NCS will describe the minimum competencies expected on completion of the Clinical Internship, the Intern will be assessed against the NCS. The NCS, therefore, will replace the current Clinical Internship Competencies and Review Standards (2018).

Each intern will be assessed against every sub-competency in the NCS, whatever their work setting or location.

Will the NCS 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 NCS, however, will be designed for all AudA Accredited Audiologists, from their entry to the profession during the lifetime of their membership. A review of the competencies that apply to the university programs is underway, to ensure a logical progression of competence from university to Internship to entry to the profession.

How will the NCS feature in the resumption of practice program?

Assessment of someone’s application to resume practice will be guided by the NCS, as their resumption of practice program will be based on relevant parts of the NCS.

How will the NCS relate to the Code of Conduct?

The NCS will refer to the Code of Conduct for Audiology Australia at various points, and will operate alongside it, specifying that the Code of Conduct must be complied with.

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 NCS will describe the minimum competencies that every AudA Accredited Audiologist is required to have. While they have a different focus, referring to the Scope of Practice as the NCS are being developed is useful 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.

Were members consulted on the proposed National Competency Standards?

Yes. Before being submitted to the Audiology Australia Board for final approval, multiple rounds of consultation with all members and other stakeholders were undertaken on the draft. Members were also encouraged to provide their comments about the NCS at any stage via email to georgie.bodman@audiology.asn.au

When will the National Competency Standards be finalised?

Our aim is to submit them to the AudA Board for approval by the end of July 2021.

When will the National Competency Standards take effect? 

1 January 2022.

Contact

For further information about the National Competency Standards, please contact Georgie Bodman at georgie.bodman@audiology.asn.au or 03 9940 3900.