Once you have decided to add an Audiology Assistant to your Team, you must decide on their full job description for your clinic. Because each clinic setting, size and patient population will differ and possibly change over time, the job description must be flexible. Having an established Protocol for your Lab and for patient care is important, too. Protocols help to make expectations clear and will support the decision-making processes in patient care. The contents of an Audiology Assistant Protocol are based on a systematic review of what roles the Audiology Assistant will play in both patient care and clinic/lab duties. What should be clear in both the job description and the Protocol is what the Audiology Assistant can and what they cannot do. Let's discuss a few of the more important types of job duties that the Audiology Assistant position cannot include.
It should be understood that performing diagnostic hearing and balance evaluations requires a degree in Audiology. No diagnostic test can be performed solely by an Audiology Assistant. However, an Audiology Assistant can assist the audiologist during a diagnostic test—such as assisting with a child during a hearing test.
INTERPRET TEST FINDINGS
Audiology Assistants should not interpret test findings or relay test results to patients. Instead, refer the patient to the audiologist to discuss test results.
Audiology Assistants cannot counsel patients in terms of the cause of their hearing loss, the type or severity of the hearing loss, what to expect from the hearing loss long-term or regarding hearing aid technology. Although, after focused training, most Audiology Assistants will have the knowledge that may allow them to do so, the Department of Health in most states requires such conversations to be led by a licensed clinician.
SELECT OR RECOMMEND HEARING INSTRUMENTS
Very often, patients will come to view the Audiology Assistant as one of their main contacts at the clinic. Instances may arise where a patient asks the Audiology Assistant their opinion on whether or not they need new hearing aids, what new technology is available or if they need new hearing aids. The Audiology Assistant will need to involve the audiologist in such conversations.
MAKE REFERRALS FOR ADDITIONAL TESTING
There are some tests that may be provided to patients as a screening exam. For example, some clinics have Audiology Assistants run screening Otoacoustic Emissions or Tympanograms. When looking at the results, they may wish to suggest further testing. However, referrals for further testing are considered outside of the job description for an Audiology Assistant and must be handled by a licensed clinician.
MODIFY EAR MOLDS
Audiology Assistants work with hearing aids every day. However, if anything done to the ear mold or hearing aid affects or changes the output of the hearing aid at the ear drum from how it originally performed, it should be considered outside of the job description for an Audiology Assistant and will require an audiologist to assist in completion.
Deciding on what your Audiology Assistant can or cannot do, then establishing a job description and Protocol can seem daunting at best or time consuming in the least. Don't re-invent the wheel! We've already done the work for you! With our 14-week Training Guide, Supervisor's Guide and Audiology Assistant Protocol, you can confidently incorporate your Audiology Assistant into your practice. Let me help. Let's start today!