Although most of us remain current with our annual physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we often fail to take into account the health of our hearing. And when our hearing does begin to decline, it arises so slowly that we barely notice and fail to take action. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people wonder what the profession actually involves.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals account for a vital part of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the proper functioning of one of our major senses — one for which we have a tendency to take for granted — is preserved or repaired.
Because we take hearing for granted, we usually also fail to realize just how important hearing is. With accurate hearing, we can boost concentration, get pleasure from the details of sound, communicate better, and strengthen family relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who make certain that this fundamental sense is functioning correctly.
If you’d like to know more about this interesting but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re interested in entering the field yourself — read on.
Attraction to the hearing care field
Hearing care professionals are driven to the field for many reasons, but a few main motivating factors are consistently present. First, several practitioners have endured, and continue to suffer with, hearing conditions themselves. Considering that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the need to repay the favor for others is strong.
To provide an example, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This could have resulted in an inability to communicate, but thanks to cochlear implants and hearing aids, Zoe is now able to communicate normally. Knowing from experience how enhanced hearing leads to a much better life, Zoe was driven to enter the field and to assist others in a similar manner.
Other practitioners are pulled into the hearing care field on account of its unique mixture of counseling, problem solving, science, and technology. Together with studying the science of hearing and the design of hearing technology, practitioners also learn how to work with individuals in the role of a counselor. Coping with hearing loss is a sensitive situation, and patients present a range of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to make use of the “soft skills” required to deal with these problems and must work with patients on a personal level to conquer hearing loss.
Training and preparation
Part of the appeal of working in the hearing care profession is the interesting mixture of subjects included as part of the schooling and training. Those pursuing a career in the field learn interesting topics in a number 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 design and functioning of hearing technology such as assistive listening devices, hearing aids, and cochlear implants, along with 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 interesting topics in psychology and counseling.
- Professional practice – topics include diagnosing hearing problems, carrying out and interpreting hearing tests, applying hearing treatments, fitting and programming hearing aids, professional ethics, and running a business.
Hearing care professionals work in a number of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing diverse tasks such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance conditions.
Standard duties involve carrying out diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on choosing the best hearing treatment, often including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best accommodate the individual and will educate the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with organizations and companies to reduce the risk of hearing injuries in noisy work situations.
The benefits mentioned most regularly by people in the hearing care profession revolve around the power to positively influence people’s lives on a very personal level. Long-lasting friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also typical thanks to the personal nature of care.
When patients declare that they can hear again for the first time in a long time, the emotions can be intense. Patients frequently report a sense of reconnection to the world and to family, along with strengthened relationships and an enhanced overall quality of life.
How many professions can claim that kind of personal impact?