Paediatric Certification Framework

Audiology Australia is currently developing a voluntary paediatric audiology certification framework. 
 

 

Audiology Australia is currently developing a voluntary 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.

 

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 hereThe 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.

 

Consultation on an initial proposal for a certification framework took place in November and December 2021. 

 

February 2022- Focus Groups and Surveys

The Working Group reviewed all the feedback on the first draft, and invited members to discuss aspects to inform the next iteration of the draft framework at externally facilitated online focus groups in February. 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.

The draft will be further revised as a result of the focus groups and survey responses with more consultation to follow.

The goal is to ensure a full, constructive, and robust consultation process.

 

Implementation timeframe extended

The first draft of the framework included a plan for implementation in 2022. The implementation date has now been extended to mid-2023. This allows for more consultation rounds with AudA members and other stakeholders, and review of all feedback, as the framework is developed.

 

Frequently asked questions

 

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)

Fiona Duncan

Fiona Griffiths 

Alison King

Ann Porter AM

Iain Summerlin

Lia Traves

Barbra Timmer

Dani Tomlin

Sue Walmsley

 

Were the February focus groups the last consultation stage in the project?

No. The 2021 survey and discovery sessions formed the start of the consultation process to seek feedback on a first draft of the framework.  The Working Group had specific questions and ideas it was keen to seek input on in its February 2022 focus groups and survey, before a second draft is developed. Further consultation and revision of the proposal is planned as the project progresses.

 

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 were the eligibility requirements for those wanting to apply for certification, in the initial draft of the certification framework? 

Applicants applying for certification would need to be an AudA Accredited Audiologist and address ‘competence’ and ‘degree and recency of experience’ requirements. It was initially proposed that ‘competence’ would be addressed by applicants via written statement which explains how they meet the competencies outlined in the Paediatric Competency Standards for Audiologists. In terms of addressing ‘degree and recency of experience’, the initial draft of the certification framework proposed that applicants would need to demonstrate the following:

  • AudA Accredited Audiologist; and
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  • Minimum 400 hours paediatric audiology clinical experience after completion of Clinical Internship, accumulated during a consecutive or non-consecutive period of no less than 6 months, within the 3 years prior to the date the application is received by AudA.
  •  

The three examples below, therefore, would meet the eligibility criteria as set out in the first draft:

  • 3 hours per week over 3 years (3 hours x 46 weeks x 3 years = 414 hours). This assumes 46 working weeks in a year, allowing for annual/other leave, public holidays etc.
  •  
  • 5 hours per week over 2 years (5 hours x 46 weeks x 2 years = 460 hours)
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  • 9 hours per week over 1 year (9 hours x 46 weeks x 1 year = 414 hours)
  •  

 

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?

The existing AudA policies apply to assist members in those circumstances, including Recency and Resumption of Practice, and the CPD Policy and Procedures. These would also apply in the case of paediatric certification. The requirements would be tailored to the individual as per these policies.

 

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.

  • Experience: Requires a term of experience to be completed in the area of practice at some point after completion of the qualification (e.g., Master of Clinical Audiology), or after completion of internship following the qualification.
  •  

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. 

 

Is the November 2021 survey the first time consultation has been sought on this certification framework project?

Yes. The Working Group was formed at the end of 2020. It reviewed other 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.

The Working Group was keen to present members with an initial proposal for a framework and invite comment on each aspect within -  the survey was designed to facilitate this.

Two online discovery sessions were also held in December 2021 at which the first draft of the framework was discussed.

All aspects of the draft framework are under review based on feedback and input from members. Audiology Australia and the Working Group remain committed to working with members in an open and collaborative process, and this continues at our February 2022 consultation activities.

 

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.

 

Contact

For further information about the paediatric certification framework, please contact Georgie Bodman at Audiology Australia via georgie.bodman@audiology.asn.au or 03 9940 3900.