In March 2021, the Academy released an updated position statement on audiology assistants. This document offers the current Academy perspective on the valuable role that audiology assistants can provide in supporting audiologists in the delivery of hearing- and balance-care services. As such, the Academy intends for the document to offer guidance on how to integrate the role into audiology practice to meet the expanding needs for patient care, while not compromising patient outcomes or safety.
The new document reflects updates and integration of earlier work within the organization. The Academy issued a position statement in 2015 based on extensive task force study of the audiology assistant role. In 2019, a new task force further considered the role. A subgroup within the Guidelines and Strategic Documents Committee recently updated the Academy’s 2015 position statement, incorporating findings of the task force and other documentation.
The position statement clearly delineates the professional and legal relationships between the audiologist and the audiology assistant.
The duties and responsibilities of audiology assistants should be delegated only by supervising audiologists and shall be based on the training, supervision, and specific work setting. The supervising audiologist is only qualified to supervise the roles and responsibilities assigned to the audiology assistant within the audiologist’s own level of competency and scope of practice. In all cases, the supervising audiologist maintains the legal and ethical responsibilities for all assigned activities that the audiology assistant performs. The needs of the consumer of audiology services and protection of the patient must always be paramount. Licensed audiologists, by virtue of their education and training, are the only professionals qualified to train and supervise audiology assistants.
The Academy also stipulates its position that licensure of audiology assistants is not needed, since the assistant works directly under the supervision of a licensed audiologist. Separate licensure might be confusing to the consumer and somehow imply a level of independent practice that does not exist. However, licensure decisions are within the purview of each state and may vary. It is incumbent upon the audiologist and audiology assistant to know all applicable state licensure laws or regulations and abide by such.
The education for an audiology assistant may include formal educational training and/or competency-based training within the audiology-practice setting. Again, audiology assistants should comply with any state requirements. Hands-on training of the assistant should be provided by an audiologist, who will need to determine that the assistant receives the breadth and depth of education and training to perform duties.
As noted in this statement, “The supervising audiologist remains responsible for ensuring that the assistant is competent in the assigned tasks within the individual practice setting.”
In recognition of the important role of the audiology assistant to hearing-and-balance health care, the Academy offers the Audiology Assistant Affiliate membership category for individuals who provide services in a supporting role to an audiologist.