Although most of us keep up to date with our annual physical, dental cleaning, and eye exam, we regularly fail to give consideration to the health of our hearing. And when our hearing does begin to decline, it develops so gradually that we barely notice and neglect 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 account for an important segment of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the proper operation of one of our primary senses — one in which we usually tend to take for granted — is preserved or repaired.
Seeing that we take hearing for granted, we often fail to recognize just how valuable hearing is. With accurate hearing, we can improve concentration, cherish the details of sound, communicate better, and strengthen relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who ensure that this essential sense is working efficiently.
If you’d like to know more about this crucial but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re thinking of entering the field yourself — read on.
Attraction to the hearing care field
Hearing care professionals are attracted to the field for a number of reasons, but a couple different primary motivating factors are frequently present. First, several practitioners have experienced, and continue to suffer from, hearing issues themselves. Given that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the urge to return the favor for other individuals is strong.
For example, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional practicing 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 currently able to communicate normally. Understanding from experience how healthier hearing leads to a much better life, Zoe was motivated to enter the field and to assist others in a similar manner.
Other people are enticed into the hearing care field as a result of its fascinating combination 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 sensitive situation, and patients present a variety 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 overcome hearing loss.
Training and education
Part of the overall appeal of earning a living in the hearing care profession is the compelling mix of topics covered as part of the education and training. Those pursuing a career in the field learn interesting topics in different 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 creation 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, performing and interpreting hearing tests, employing hearing treatments, fitting and programming hearing aids, professional ethics, and managing a business.
Hearing care professionals work in a wide range of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing various tasks such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance issues.
Standard responsibilities include carrying out diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on choosing the optimal 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 instruct the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with organizations and companies to protect against hearing injuries in loud work situations.
The benefits offered most frequently by people in the hearing care profession center on the power to favorably influence people’s lives on a very personalized level. Long-lasting friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also typical because of the personal nature of care.
When patients convey that they can hear again for the first time in decades, the emotions can be overwhelming. Patients frequently report a sense of reconnection to the world and to family, together with improved relationships and an elevated overall quality of life.
How many occupations can claim that kind of personal impact?