Newborn Hearing Screener
As a Newborn Hearing Screener, you will test the hearing of newborn babies. You will work as a member of a team within neonatal units, postnatal wards and in hospitals and clinics. You will be involved in identifying which babies need testing and explain the screening procedure.
All new parents are offered a hearing screening test in the first few weeks after their baby is born.
Newborn Hearing Screening tests identify babies who have hearing loss. By spotting a problem early, the right help can be given. The test is usually carried out with 4 to 5 weeks of birth.
Testing babies’ hearing requires expert knowledge. Newborn Hearing Screeners use special equipment to spot any problems. There are 2 types of test:
- automated otoacoustic emission (AOAE)
- automated auditory brainstem response (AABR)
For the AOAE test, a small earphone and microphone is placed in the baby’s ear. Sounds are played close to the ear and the response measured. In a healthy ear, an echo is reflected back. If a baby has hearing loss, no echo is measured.
AABR test identifies the softest level of sound a baby can hear. For this test, electrodes are placed on the babies head. As sounds are played, the electrodes pick up responses from the hearing (cranial) nerve. This nerve transmits sound from the ear to the brain. The responses are then entered into a computer where the Hearing Screener can view them.
It is not always possible to get a clear response from the first test. The baby might be unsettled by background noise, or have fluid in their ear. The Newborn Hearing Screener may decide to do a second test.
Sometimes babies are given the AOAE test first. If the baby passes this test, the AABR is not needed.
When Newborn Hearing Screeners meet new parents, they explain what is going to happen. This can be a very stressful time, and the screener must reassure them. Once the hearing screener has received the results they must then explain to the parents what they mean. Hopefully, all is well. If there is a problem, the Hearing Screener explains to the parents the next steps.
Newborn Hearing Screeners work as part of the audiology team. They work alongside Healthcare Scientists, Neonatal Nurses, GPs, and Health Visitors.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Newborn Hearing Screener, you need to be:
- happy to handle newborn babies
- calm and reassuring
- able to explain procedures to parents
- willing to work with people from all walks of life
- able to work as part of a team but use their initiative
- able to follow instructions
- able to use equipment
Pay and Opportunities
Clinical support staff working in the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system.
- With experience - Band 3: £18,813 - £20,795
Hours of Work
As a Newborn Hearing Screener, you can expect to work standard hours of around 37.5 a week.
You may work shifts, which could involve nights, early starts, evenings and weekends. Terms and conditions will usually be different for clinical support staff working outside of the NHS.
Where could I work?
- the NHS (in hospitals and in the community)
- private healthcare providers
There are also opportunities to work in other countries (some countries require extra qualifications).
Opportunities occur in towns, cities and rural areas throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Most NHS trusts advertise their vacancies on NHS Jobs. Some advertise on their own websites. You can find a list of NHS organisations on NHS Choices.
- NHS Jobs: www.jobs.nhs.uk/
If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work.
Entry Routes and Training
There are no set entry requirements for Newborn Hearing Screeners. Employers expect a good standard of numeracy and literacy and may ask for GCSEs or equivalent.
Employers usually ask for experience of working with children and families. They may also ask for experience of working with deaf people. This can be either paid or voluntary work.
Depending on the role, employers may be required to check whether you have a criminal record. Your offer of employment will be subject to a satisfactory disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service (known as a DBS check).
You will be given the training you need for the job including how to use the equipment, health and safety and child protection. Newborn Hearing Screeners can join the British Society of Audiology (BSA) as associate members. The BSA offers conferences and meetings where you can update your skills and network with others working in the field.
You could become a Newborn Screening Co-ordinator, supervising and organising the work of a team of screeners.
This role can also provide you with the chance to move into other jobs in the wider healthcare team or with the appropriate qualifications for entry to university. You could apply to train as a healthcare professional, such as a Midwife or Nurse or as an Audiologist.
This is a great career in its own right, and can also provide a platform into other roles.
Employers may ask for a nursery nursing or child-care related qualification, such as the CACHE level 3 diploma in childcare, BTEC or similar vocational qualification.
Skills for Health
Skills for the health sector
Address: Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP
Tel: 0117 9221155
British Society of Audiology (BSA)
Address: 80 Brighton Road, Reading, Berkshire RG6 1PS
Tel: 0118 9660622
British Academy of Audiology (BAA)
Address: Blackburn House, Redhouse Road, Seafield, Bathgate, West Lothian, EH47 7AQ
Tel: 01625 290046
People Exchange Cymru (PEC)
Public sector recruitment portal for Wales