While many of us keep up to date with our annual physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we often fail to take into account the well-being of our hearing. And when our hearing does start to worsen, it takes place so slowly that we barely notice and fail to take action. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people question what the career actually involves.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals represent an essential segment of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the correct operation of one of our principal senses — one in which we have a tendency to take for granted — is preserved or restored.
Considering that we take hearing for granted, we often fail to comprehend just how important hearing is. With accurate hearing, we can greatly enhance concentration, enjoy 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 efficiently.
If you’d like to learn more about this important but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re contemplating entering the field yourself — read on.
Attraction to the hearing care field
Hearing care professionals are driven to the field for a variety of reasons, but a couple different central motivating factors are consistently present. First of all, many practitioners have endured, and continue to experience, hearing issues themselves. Due to the fact that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the drive to return the favor for others is powerful.
To provide an example, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This would have caused an inability to communicate, but thanks to cochlear implants and hearing aids, Zoe is now able to communicate normally. Recognizing from experience how enhanced hearing leads to a much better life, Zoe was motivated to enter the field and to help others in the same manner.
Other individuals are attracted into the hearing care field because of its fascinating mixture of counseling, problem solving, science, and technology. Alongside studying the science of hearing and the design of hearing technology, practitioners also learn how to work with people in the role of a counselor. Coping with hearing loss is a delicate situation, and people present a number of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to apply the “soft skills” necessary to manage these difficulties and must work with patients on an individual level to beat hearing loss.
Training and education
Part of the appeal of working in the hearing care profession is the interesting combination of topics included as part of the education 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 fascinating topics in psychology and counseling.
- Professional practice – topics include diagnosing hearing problems, conducting and interpreting hearing tests, employing hearing treatments, fitting and programming hearing aids, professional ethics, and starting a business.
Hearing care professionals work in a diversity of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing varying tasks such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance problems.
Common responsibilities consist of conducting diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on determining the optimum hearing treatment, often including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best match the individual and will teach the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with employers and companies to protect against hearing damage in noisy work situations.
The benefits cited most regularly by people in the hearing care profession revolve around the opportunity to favorably influence people’s lives on a very personalized level. Long-lasting 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 a very long time, the emotions can be overwhelming. Patients frequently describe a sense of reconnection to the world and to family, together with improved relationships and an enhanced overall quality of life.
How many vocations can claim that kind of personal impact?