How To: Tips for Working on an IPP Team as an Audiologist

As an audiologist, you might not think interprofessional practice (IPP) is a natural fit for your work. After all, your assessments and intervention services don’t typically require ongoing teamwork.

However, audiologists have an important role to play when hearing, communication, balance, or other auditory concerns arise with a patient. In these cases, audiologists should join an IPP team for an intentional period of collaborative work. Hear audiologists explain how IPP is an integral part of the audiology scope of practice.

Learn how the Cochlear Implant Center at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) uses IPP to help improve patient care and outcomes, increase efficiencies of care, and enhance patient and team satisfaction.

Here are ASHA’s tips for interprofessional collaboration as an audiologist [PDF].

Tip #1: It’s okay to participate on an IPP team for a limited time.

  • Interprofessional teams may work with patients or students for a brief or an extended period of time. A longer-term commitment is important in certain cases, such as helping a person recover from a stroke and regain communication and mobility skills. However, as an audiologist, participating on a team over a long timeline may not align with the types of services you provide. That’s okay! It is totally acceptable to join an IPP team for a limited amount of time to address a specific need, such as an assessment to rule out hearing loss for a patient who is having memory issues.

  • How will you know whenif your expertise is needed on a team? The answer communication among the existing IPP team and other professionals that join the team as a care plan evolves based on the patient’s needs.


Tip #2: Understand the role hearing loss plays in other health conditions.

  • Even though audiologists work specifically with hearing and balance issues, it’s important to know about other health conditions, too. Some conditions may either be risk factors for hearing loss or a consequence of a hearing loss. For example, sleep apnea, diabetes, and high blood pressure all put a patient at risk for developing or worsening hearing loss. On the flip side, some conditions, such as anxiety and depression, might be a consequence of a hearing loss.

  • Understanding these connections will help you coordinate care for individuals seeing multiple health professionals and will help you work more effectively on an IPP team. To learn more, review the ASHA Audiology Patient Education Handouts to educate others on comorbidities and hearing loss [PDF].


Tip #3: Ensure that leadership understands the value and expertise audiologists provide.

  • As audiologists, we know our work is critical to improving our patients' lives. But not every health care professional understands all the things we do. That means we may not be included on an IPP care team even when we could have made a big impact.

  • In many cases, it’s up to us to ensure that other professionals, supervisors, and facility leadership understand what audiologists do and how we help patients. This may mean hosting in-services for fellow medical staff to educate them on the role of an audiologist and to share relevant research, such as studies showing that treating hearing loss leads to a lower likelihood of hospital readmission. Having these conversations will ensure that other health care professionals reach out when the patient need arises.

  • Use these resources to educate others about the value of audiologists on IPP teams:

    • Demonstrating Your Value – Use data and research to show the far-reaching, lasting impact you make on the individuals you serve—and the broader health care system. Educate others about the value of audiology in telepractice, assessment and treatment of dizziness and balance, hearing aid fittings, and cognitive decline/dementia.

    • Audiologist and ENT Referral Guide – This guide provides valuable insights into who should see an audiologist, when to refer to an ENT, and who can benefit from an OTC hearing aid.

    • Audiology Information Series: Effects of Hearing Loss on Development [PDF] – Delve into this series to understand how children with hearing difficulties are at risk for developmental delays, highlighting the critical role audiologists play in addressing these challenges.


Tip #4: Always communicate—especially if you work separately from other providers.

  • Strong communication is a must for interprofessional collaboration. Audiologists often work in areas that physically isolate them from other care providers.

  • Unfortunately, "out of sight" often means "out of mind." Audiologists need to work harder to stay in touch with the rest of our patients’ care teams. Even when you are not actively part of an IPP team, it’s important to keep other health care providers in the loop with a quick phone call or email about the patient’s progress. For example, reach out to the patient's internist or referring specialist to discuss connections between their hearing loss and the comorbid conditions they are treating.

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