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Laura McAlinden

New-born Hearing Screener @ Southern Health & Social Care Trust

Employee Image - Laura McAlinden

Laura is a New-born Hearing Screener working in Craigavon Area Hospital’s Audiology Department

Hi Laura, Can you tell us how about your job and what you do from day to day

As a New-born Hearing Screener, I am responsible for ensuring that all babies born in the maternity wards have their hearing tested after birth. Each morning we visit all the babies who are on the maternity wards and those who get home from hospital before a hearing screen was able to be carried out are followed up at an outpatient clinic.

We run three outpatient clinics each week, two in Craigavon Hospital and one in Armagh community hospital. Any babies who do not pass the initial hearing screen are referred to our audiology department for further testing.

It is also my responsibility to follow up all babies who have been transferred to the neo natal unit and ensure that when they are age appropriate a hearing screen is carried out. All results are recorded in the baby’s PCHR book, a copy of which is put into baby’s hospital notes and the results are also uploaded onto our child health system.

What experience/education is required in order to perform this role?

A New-born Hearing Screener will have background knowledge of working with babies, along with knowledge of hearing, how the ear works and how different hearing tests can be used to test different levels of hearing. This is combined with computer skills, along with excellent communication skills to keep the relevant sources well informed on the outcome of the hearing screen. We work alongside the audiology department, it is vital we work effectively as part of a team as well as being able to work independently without direction or supervision.

What is the biggest challenge in your role?

The biggest challenge in my role would be debriefing parents when a baby does not pass their initial hearing screen. I have to explain the results in a clear and reassuring manner, without creating undue anxiety before diagnostic testing has been conducted in Audiology.

What advice would you give to others looking for a job in your field?

The advice I would give to others would be to do your research on how the screening test works and what is required to carry it out. Excellent communication skills are vital for this role as you are communicating important results to the parents; a background working in a hospital setting is very beneficial, you need to work independently at times but also contribute effectively as part of a team.

What do you like best about your role and working in HSC?

I find my role within health and social care setting very rewarding. I am among some of the first health care professionals to interact with parents of new-born babies. I understand the importance of early intervention in cases of hearing loss and feel my job is very rewarding overall.