Although many of us remain up to date with our once-a-year physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we typically fail to consider the well-being of our hearing. And when our hearing does begin to deteriorate, it comes about so gradually that we hardly notice and neglect to take action. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people curious to know what the occupation actually involves.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals serve as a key component 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 have a tendency to take for granted — is maintained or repaired.
Considering the fact that we take hearing for granted, we usually also fail to keep in mind just how essential hearing is. With precise hearing, we can maximize concentration, appreciate the details of sound, communicate better, and strengthen family relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who ensure that this essential sense is working properly.
If you’d like to find out more about this valuable but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re thinking about joining the field yourself — read on.
Attraction to the hearing care field
Hearing care professionals are driven to the field for many reasons, but a couple different main motivating factors are repeatedly present. First of all, several practitioners have experienced, and continue to suffer from, hearing conditions themselves. Because they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the urge to return the favor for other people is strong.
For example, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This could have produced an inability to communicate, but thanks to cochlear implants and hearing aids, Zoe is now able to communicate normally. Appreciating from experience how improved hearing leads to a much better life, Zoe was driven to enter the field and to assist others in the same manner.
Other individuals are driven into the hearing care field owing to its unique mixture of counseling, problem solving, science, and engineering. Together 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 delicate situation, and people present a number of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to use the “soft skills” required to deal with these issues and must work with patients on a personal level to beat hearing loss.
Training and education
Part of the attractiveness of working in the hearing care profession is the compelling combination of topics included as part of the education and training. Those pursuing a career in the field study 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, in addition to 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 starting a business.
Hearing care professionals work in a variety of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing diverse tasks such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance problems.
Traditional responsibilities involve conducting diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on deciding on the best hearing treatment, very 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 prevent hearing damage in high decibel work conditions.
The benefits offered most regularly by people in the hearing care profession center on the capacity to favorably impact people’s lives on a very personalized level. Long term friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also prevalent thanks to the personal nature of care.
When patients report that they can hear again for the first time in ages, the emotions can be intense. Patients often describe a feeling of reconnection to the world and to family, as well as strengthened relationships and an improved overall quality of life.
How many occupations can claim that kind of personal impact?