Although most of us stay up to date with our once-a-year physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we often forget to give thought to the health of our hearing. And when our hearing does begin to worsen, it arises so 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 career actually involves.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals serve as a vital component of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the correct performance of one of our key senses — one for which we have a tendency to take for granted — is maintained or restored.
Given that we take hearing for granted, we usually also fail to fully grasp just how invaluable hearing is. With accurate hearing, we can boost focus, cherish the details of sound, communicate better, and strengthen working relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who ensure that this key sense is working efficiently.
If you’d like to find out more about this interesting but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re considering joining 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 habitually present. First of all, several practitioners have endured, and continue to suffer from, hearing problems themselves. Considering the fact that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the desire to return the favor for other individuals is strong.
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 presently able to communicate normally. Recognizing from experience how healthier hearing leads to a better life, Zoe was driven to enter the field and to assist others in a similar manner.
Other individuals are pulled into the hearing care field as a consequence of its distinctive mixture of counseling, problem solving, science, and technology. In conjunction with studying the science of hearing and the engineering of hearing technology, practitioners also learn how to work with people in the role of a counselor. Dealing with hearing loss is a delicate situation, and patients present a wide range of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to use the “soft skills” necessary to address these issues and must work with patients on an individual level to overcome hearing loss.
Training and education
Part of the allure of working in the hearing care profession is the compelling mixture of topics covered as part of the schooling and training. Those pursuing a career in the field study fascinating topics in several fields such as:
- Biology – topics include the anatomy and physiology of hearing, balance, the ear, and the brain, as well as 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 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, as well as other fascinating topics in psychology and counseling.
- Professional practice – topics include diagnosing hearing problems, performing and interpreting hearing tests, developing 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 varied activities such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance problems.
General duties include conducting diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on determining the optimum 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 coach the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with employers and businesses to prevent hearing damage in noisy work situations.
The benefits reported most regularly by individuals in the hearing care profession center on the power to favorably influence people’s lives on a very personalized level. Long term friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also typical thanks to the personal nature of care.
When patients state that they can hear again for the first time in a long time, the emotions can be overwhelming. Patients oftentimes describe a feeling of reconnection to the world and to family, as well as strengthened relationships and an elevated overall quality of life.
How many professions can claim that kind of personal impact?