While the majority of us keep up to date with our yearly physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we usually fail to give thought to the health of our hearing. And when our hearing does start to deteriorate, it happens so slowly and gradually that we scarcely notice and fail to take action. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people curious to know what the profession actually involves.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals serve as an essential part of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the proper operation of one of our primary senses — one for which we often tend to take for granted — is preserved or repaired.
Seeing that we take hearing for granted, we often fail to realize just how invaluable hearing is. With accurate hearing, we can maximize focus, savor the details of sound, converse better, and strengthen working relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who ensure that this fundamental sense is functioning correctly.
If you’d like to know more about this important but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re thinking of entering the field yourself — read on.
Attraction to the hearing care field
Hearing care professionals are attracted to the field for numerous reasons, but a few key motivating factors are consistently present. First, several practitioners have experienced, and continue to endure, hearing troubles themselves. Considering the fact that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the need to return the favor for other individuals is powerful.
For instance, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional practicing in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This could have caused an inability to communicate, but thanks to cochlear implants and hearing aids, Zoe is now able to communicate normally. Realizing from experience how enhanced hearing leads to a better life, Zoe was determined to enter the field and to assist others in the same manner.
Other individuals are drawn into the hearing care field on account of its distinctive blend of counseling, problem solving, science, and technology. In combination with studying the science of hearing and the engineering of hearing technology, practitioners also learn how to work with individuals in the role of a counselor. Dealing with hearing loss is a sensitive situation, and patients present a variety of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to use the “soft skills” required to deal with these difficulties and must work with patients on an individual level to conquer hearing loss.
Training and education
Part of the overall appeal of working in the hearing care profession is the intriguing mix of subjects included as part of the schooling and training. Those pursuing a career in the field study fascinating topics in a range of fields such as:
- Biology – topics include the anatomy and physiology of hearing, balance, the ear, and the brain, in addition to instruction 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 development 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, along with 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 running a business.
Hearing care professionals work in various kinds of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing various tasks such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance conditions.
Normal duties involve carrying out diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on choosing the optimal hearing treatment, in many cases including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best fit the individual and will educate the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with employers and businesses to protect against hearing damage in noisy work conditions.
The benefits reported most regularly by those in the hearing care profession center on the capacity to positively impact people’s lives on a very personal level. Lifelong friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also typical as a result of the personal nature of care.
When patients state that they can hear again for the first time in years, the emotions can be intense. Patients frequently describe a feeling of reconnection to the world and to family, along with improved relationships and an elevated overall quality of life.
How many vocations can claim that kind of personal impact?