An Externship Program Helped Create Double-Digit Growth
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In a competitive market Chesapeake Hearing Centers needed to find a way to free up time for current team members and build a team for the future.
Create an externship program that will allow Chesapeake Hearing Centers to bring on new talent that can become future audiologists within their practice.
Chesapeake Hearing Centers was able to achieve double digital growth, free up time for their audiologists, and train their future audiology team.
Beyond financial, other benefits of an extern program.
Frees Up Time:
Once fully trained, externs help alleviate a busy schedule by taking on non-Medicare audios, hearing aid fittings, VNG testing, hearing aid cleanings, repairs, and even adjustments.
Build Your Future Team
A fourth-year externship is a great recruitment tool. It can serve as a one-year interview, after which you can hire the extern if the time is right, or both of you can move on, no strings attached. It’s less risky than hiring someone cold with whom you’ve never worked.
Best practices that will help your team recruit the best externs possible.
After several years recruiting and building relationships with externs, we have identified best practices that will help your team recruit the best externs possible.
- Maintain good working relationships with Au.D. schools that will send second-, third-, and fourth-year students your way. Familiarize yourself with their requirements.
- Post a fourth-year extern ad by August or September to attract the highest-quality candidates.
- Respond to candidates in a timely manner and follow through with interviews. While in-person interviews are ideal, starting with a phone interview and then having them come shadow in the office works well too.
- The management team is involved throughout the fourth-year recruitment process, but second- and third-year recruitment is handled by other audiologists within the practice.
Once you have hired your extern, integration into your practice is critical.
There is a balance in having your externs take on responsibilities without jeopardizing patient care, while also allowing them to free up time for your providers. Here are tips on how we integrate externs into our practice.
- Externs are supervised 100% at first but slowly take on more autonomy to the point where they have an independent schedule. The pace toward autonomy depends on the skills and confidence level of the student. Au.D. supervisors remain in charge of patient care (e.g., they review all reports before they are sent out, and they stop in on appointments, particularly with existing hearing aid patients).
- When externs are seeing existing patients, audiologists need to be able to pop in to see patients, check in, and leave again. If an audiologist just takes over the patient each time or leaves the extern on their own all the time, then the time-saving benefits of an extern are reduced or patient care can be compromised.
- If you have multiple locations, determine the needs of each location and allow your externs to have different tasks to fill each need. For example, our fourth-year extern spends four days a week in Annapolis, where we are collocated with an ENT and do the most diagnostics. On the fifth weekday, she goes to another nearby office to support our audiologists.