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J Am Acad Audiol. 2018 May;29(5):405-416. doi: 10.3766/jaaa.17004.

Audiology Assistants: Results of a Multicenter Survey.

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Saint Louis Children's Hospital, St. Louis, MO.
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH.



Although audiologists have been using support personnel for over 45 yr, controversy and variability continue with respect to the entry-level education, training methods, and scope of practice.


As part of a larger clinical practices survey, this report focuses on use of audiology assistants (AAs) for pediatric settings and "life-span" facilities that had a significant population of pediatric patients.


A questionnaire was sent to 116 facilities in geographically diverse locations. Of the 25 surveys returned, 22 had sufficient data to be included for analysis purposes.


The majority of respondents assigned duties to AAs as follows: assisting with conditioned play audiometry and visual reinforcement audiometry, infection control, mail management, disposing of protected health information, ordering supplies, calling families, fielding family phone calls, and stocking supplies. In addition, of the nine pediatric facilities that used AAs and reported job duties, the majority assigned troubleshooting equipment and auditory brainstem response (ABR) screening. Two of the five life-span facilities that reported job duties assigned several duties not assigned by any of the pediatric facilities: pure-tone screening, earmold impressions, assisting with videonystagmography and ABR, and in-house hearing aid repairs. Of facilities that use AAs and reported staffing, the ratio of AAs to audiologists ranged from 0.03:1 to 1:0.37, with an average of 0.15 for life-span facilities and 0.17 for the pediatric facilities. Minimum educational levels required were reported as follows: high school (n = 8), college (n = 3), certificate (n = 1), and no requirement (n = 1).


Within a small sample size of pediatric and life-span facilities, 14 of 22 centers used AAs to perform a variety of direct patient care, indirect patient care, and clerical duties. Based on the duties recommended within the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association guidelines and by many states, expanded employment of AAs, as well as expansion of assigned duties should be considered. Data are needed to determine the appropriate ratio of AAs to audiologists within different settings and to determine the impact of AAs for accessibility, productivity, and profitability.


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