Students at Ireland’s only audiology undergraduate course at Athlone Institute of Technology are reviewing their options after learning the course is to be scrapped at the end of its first year (2013), due to issues with industry accreditation that affected HSE work placements.
With a chronic shortage of audiologists in Ireland, this news is not good, when reading the HSE’s audiology services roadmap (2011). Audiology, speech and language therapy are the fastest-growing careers to 2020 in the US. Why then, are Ireland’s health agencies not investing in these specific areas to future-proof national services for growing populations?
Babies And Seniors
Newborn hearing tests and senior-services are the obvious areas of need in Ireland, with 100 babies born with hearing issues every year, and up to one million people experiencing age-related hearing issues (many are in denial). “Workforce uplift” is in the HSE’s roadmap, but sustainable service delivery is needed around the country to reduce waiting lists.
Read: HSE National Audiology Review (April 2011)
The report’s Immediate Workforce Needs section (p.18) reads:
We recommend that a suitable Higher Education institution be commissioned by HSE to develop integrated training programmes (based on the proposed Scopes of Practice) for BSc and MSc level training in audiology. [more… page 18]
On page 19, provision is made for MSc-level training in the UK:
[We recommend] the HSE negotiate a formal arrangement with a suitable University/Universities in the UK to provide MSc-level training in audiology for five suitable graduate recruits per year for six years, starting academic year 2011/12. [more… page 19]
Several questions arise: where will graduate recruits originate from, if the Athlone course closes? With childrens’ (acute) services being delivered by audiological scientists in Ireland, and 3,739 children wearing hearing-aids (preschool to post-primary age; HSE, June 2010) – a serious services gap exists in all regions where ongoing workforce planning is needed.
Telepractice – A Response?
Teleaudiology is one response to a shortage of audiologists, particularly when tuning cochlear implants, but in-person contact with audiologists is vital when hearing-aids are fitted, especially for young children and seniors.
For some time, Sound Advice has shared telepractice approaches in other countries (links below) but again, a national centre for co-ordination is required.
Ireland’s need for an audiology school on p.118 of the NAR (2011):
An Irish School of Audiology would ensure a steady supply of competent practitioners for the service; … underpinned by evaluative, evidence based practitioners; it would … develop a research-led reflective culture in audiology [and] needs for CPD; and above all it would be the nursery for the future leaders of the service. All of these would … ensure that the needs of people with hearing loss in Ireland are very significantly better met than they are at present. [more… page 118]
Just this week, Newstalk 108FM sent reporter Henry McKean to experience “being deaf for a day“, and to meet a working audiologist. Ironic, when the national training centre was telling its students that their course was closing.
- How AIT’s Audiology Course Is Being Accredited
- Hearing-Aids + Learning = Education
- How The HSE Can Use Telepractice To Cut Costs
- What Is “The Deaf Debate” With Cochlear Implants?
- How New Zealand’s Hearing Tests Lead To Early Intervention
- A TeleAudiology Program With Lessons For Ireland
- Telepractice For Low-Cost Language Teaching
- Family Auditory-Verbal Therapy By Telepractice
- Educational Audiologist Uses Her Life Experiences
- Children Can Filter Background Noise With Practice
- South Africa’s Solid Model For Inclusive Education