Even though the majority of us stay up to date with our annual physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we typically fail to consider the well-being of our hearing. And when our hearing does begin to worsen, it arises so slowly that we hardly notice and fail to take action. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people wonder what the profession actually entails.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals make up an essential component of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the proper operation of one of our principal senses — one for which we usually tend to take for granted — is preserved or restored.
Seeing that we take hearing for granted, we often fail to realize just how priceless hearing is. With accurate hearing, we can strengthen attention, savor the details of sound, communicate better, and strengthen working relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who see to it that this fundamental sense is functioning properly.
If you’d like to learn more about this interesting but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re looking into entering the field yourself — read on.
Attraction to the hearing care field
Hearing care professionals are drawn to the field for numerous reasons, but a couple different central motivating factors are habitually present. First of all, several practitioners have endured, and continue to endure, hearing issues themselves. Given that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the drive to return the favor for other individuals is powerful.
To provide an example, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional practicing in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This would have resulted in 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 much better life, Zoe was motivated to enter the field and to assist others in the same way.
Other individuals are drawn into the hearing care field thanks to its unique blend of counseling, problem solving, science, and technology. Together 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 range of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to employ the “soft skills” necessary to address these challenges and must work with patients on a personalized level to overcome hearing loss.
Training and education
Part of the appeal of earning a living in the hearing care profession is the interesting mixture of topics covered as part of the schooling and training. Those pursuing a career in the field master interesting topics in a number of fields such as:
- Biology – topics include the anatomy and physiology of hearing, balance, the ear, and the brain, as well as 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 operation 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, in addition to other fascinating topics in psychology and counseling.
- Professional practice – topics include diagnosing hearing problems, conducting and interpreting hearing tests, implementing hearing treatments, fitting and programming hearing aids, professional ethics, and managing a business.
Hearing care professionals work in a number of of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing various activities such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance disorders.
Conventional duties involve conducting diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on selecting the most effective hearing treatment, very often including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best fit the individual and will train the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with organizations and companies to prevent hearing damage in loud work situations.
The benefits quoted most frequently by individuals in the hearing care profession center on the capacity to favorably influence people’s lives on a very personal level. Lifelong friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also prevalent because of the personal nature of care.
When patients report that they can hear again for the first time in years, the emotions can be overwhelming. Patients commonly describe a feeling of reconnection to the world and to family, as well as improved relationships and an enhanced overall quality of life.
How many occupations can claim that kind of personal impact?