While many of us remain up to date with our once-a-year physical, dental cleaning, and eye exam, we typically forget to think about the well-being of our hearing. And when our hearing does start to diminish, it appears so slowly that we scarcely notice and neglect to take action. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people wonder what the occupation actually entails.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals serve as an important segment of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the correct performance of one of our principal senses — one for which we have a tendency to take for granted — is preserved or restored.
Seeing that we take hearing for granted, we usually also fail to fully grasp just how essential hearing is. With accurate hearing, we can increase attention, take pleasure in the details of sound, converse better, and strengthen friendships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who make certain that this vital sense is working properly.
If you’d like to find out more about this important but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re thinking about entering the field yourself — read on.
Attraction to the hearing care field
Hearing care professionals are drawn to the field for various reasons, but a couple different main motivating factors are frequently present. First of all, several practitioners have endured, and continue to suffer with, hearing problems themselves. Because they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the urge to repay the favor for other individuals is strong.
For example, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This could have led to an inability to communicate, but thanks to cochlear implants and hearing aids, Zoe is presently able to communicate normally. Understanding from experience how improved hearing leads to a better life, Zoe was committed to enter the field and to help others in the same way.
Other individuals are drawn into the hearing care field due to its distinctive mixture of counseling, problem solving, science, and engineering. Alongside learning about the science of hearing and the engineering of hearing technology, practitioners also learn how to work with people in the role of a counselor. Coping with hearing loss is a sensitive matter, and patients present a range of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to utilize the “soft skills” required to manage these problems and must work with patients on a personalized level to conquer hearing loss.
Training and education
Part of the allure of earning a living in the hearing care profession is the compelling mixture of subjects covered as part of the education and training. Those pursuing a career in the field master fascinating topics in a variety of fields such as:
- Biology – topics include the anatomy and physiology of hearing, balance, the ear, and the brain, in addition to classes in hearing and balance disorders and pharmacology.
- Physics – topics include the physics of sound, acoustics, and psychoacoustics (how the brain processes sound).
- Engineering – topics include the creation and functioning of hearing technology such as assistive listening devices, hearing aids, and cochlear implants, as well as the programming of digital hearing aids.
- Counseling – topics include how to interview patients, how to teach coping skills, and how to train on the use of hearing aids, in addition to other fascinating topics in psychology and counseling.
- Professional practice – topics include diagnosing hearing problems, carrying out and interpreting hearing tests, implementing hearing treatments, fitting and programming hearing aids, professional ethics, and operating a business.
Hearing care professionals work in a diversity of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing various tasks such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance conditions.
Typical tasks involve carrying out diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on selecting the most effective hearing treatment, often including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best suit the individual and will coach the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with employers and companies to protect against hearing damage in noisy work settings.
The benefits mentioned most frequently by individuals in the hearing care profession revolve around the opportunity to favorably impact people’s lives on a very personal level. Long term friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also typical due to the personal nature of care.
When patients announce that they can hear again for the first time in a long time, the emotions can be overwhelming. Patients often describe a sense of reconnection to the world and to family, in addition to improved relationships and an improved overall quality of life.
How many professions can claim that kind of personal impact?