Audiologists: Become A Hearing Health Care Professional By Pursuing A Career As Audiologist?Find Out How!

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The importance of hearing is significant. Man develops through effective hearing. When you?re born, you don?t talk for a while, you only listen. That?s when all the learning takes places, while you listen. Your linguistic skills are developed. Your intellect, mentality, spontaneity, and pronunciations are all constantly underdevelopment because of your hearing ability.

And the specialist who guards this miraculous ability that we possess is called an Audiologist. Let?s find out more about this profession.

WHAT IS AUDIOLOGY?

Audiology is a branch of science that studies hearing, balance, and related disorders. Audiologists treat those with hearing loss and proactively prevent related damage. By employing various testing strategies (e.g. behavioral hearing tests, otoacoustic emission measurements, and electrophysiologic tests), audiologists aim to determine whether someone has normal sensitivity to sounds. If hearing loss is identified, audiologists determine which portions of hearing (high, middle, or low frequencies) are affected, to what degree (severity of loss), and where the lesion causing the hearing loss is found (outer ear, middle ear, inner ear, auditory nerve and/or central nervous system). If an audiologist determines that a hearing loss or vestibular abnormality is present he or she will provide recommendations for interventions or rehabilitation (e.g. hearing aids, cochlear implants, appropriate medical referrals).

In addition to diagnosing audiologists and vestibular pathologies, audiologists can also specialize in rehabilitation of tinnitus, hyperacusis, misophonia, auditory processing disorders, cochlear implant use and/or hearing aid use. Audiologists can provide hearing health care from birth to end-of-life.

WHO IS AN AUDIOLOGIST?

An audiologist is a licensed hearing health care professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders in adults and children. You can think of an audiologist primarily as a ?hearing doctor.? Most audiologists have completed a doctor of audiology (Au.D.) degree, though there are other doctoral degrees within the field (Ph.D., Sc.D., and others). Audiologists typically offer the following services:

  • Complete hearing exams
  • Fitting, adjustment, and maintenance of hearing aids
  • Treatment for balance disorders and tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Hearing and speech rehabilitation programs

Audiologists possess comprehensive knowledge of the human auditory and vestibular systems, and they have extensive training in sound reproduction, which is critical to the accurate fitting and adjustment of hearing aids.

HOW DO I BECOME AN AUDIOLOGIST?

New audiologists must earn a doctorate in order to begin practicing. The doctoral degree in audiology (AudD) is a four-year graduate program that you can enter while having a bachelor?s degree in any field. Some audiology programs, like the one at the University of Washington, allow you to specialize in an area of interest, such as pediatric, geriatric or educational audiology. Your coursework will be more specialized accordingly.

Your coursework will include classes such as:

  • Anatomy and Physiology: Peripheral Hearing
  • Psycho-acoustics
  • Signals, Systems & Acoustics for the Communication Sciences
  • Biological Foundations of Speech & Music
  • Amplification
  • Clinical Practice and Practicum
Typically, your first year or two will include observations, clinical orientation, a written qualifying exam, and a practical assessment. Your third and/or fourth year will offer more hands-on experience through your externship, internship or other ?capstone? style intensive project.

Duties of Audiologists

Audiologists typically do the following:

  • Examine patients who have hearing, balance, or related ear problems
  • Assess the results of the examination and diagnose problems
  • Determine and administer treatment to meet patients' goals
  • Provide treatment for tinnitus, a condition that causes ringing in the ear
  • Fit and dispense hearing aids
  • Counsel patients and their families on ways to listen and communicate, such as lip reading or through technology
  • Evaluate patients regularly to check on hearing and balance and to continue or change treatment plans
  • Record patient progress
  • Research the causes and treatment of hearing and balance disorders
  • Educate patients on ways to prevent hearing loss

Audiologists use audiometers, computers, and other devices to test patients' hearing ability and balance. They work to determine the extent of hearing damage and identify the underlying cause. Audiologists measure the loudness at which a person begins to hear sounds and the person's ability to distinguish between sounds and understand speech.

Before determining treatment options, audiologists evaluate psychological information to measure the impact of hearing loss on a patient. Treatment may include cleaning wax out of ear canals, fitting and checking hearing aids, or working with physicians to fit the patient with cochlear implants to improve hearing. Cochlear implants are tiny devices that are placed under the skin near the ear and deliver electrical impulses directly to the auditory nerve in the brain. This allows a person with certain types of deafness to be able to hear.

Audiologists also counsel patients on other ways to cope with profound hearing loss, such as lip reading or using technology.

Audiologists can help a patient suffering from vertigo or other balance problems. They work with patients and provide them with exercises involving head movement or positioning that might relieve some of their symptoms.

Some audiologists specialize in working with the elderly or with children. Others educate the public on hearing loss prevention. Audiologists may design products to help protect the hearing of workers on the job. Audiologists who are self-employed hire employees, keep records, order equipment and supplies, and complete other tasks related to running a business.

Important Qualities for Audiologists

Communication skills. Audiologists need to communicate test results, diagnoses, and proposed treatments, so patients clearly understand the situation and options. They also may need to work on teams with other healthcare providers and education specialists regarding patient care.

Compassion. Audiologists work with patients who may be frustrated or emotional because of their hearing or balance problems. They should be empathetic and supportive of patients and their families.

Critical-thinking skills. Audiologists must concentrate when testing a patient's hearing and be able to analyze each patient's situation, in order to offer the best treatment. They must also be able to provide alternative plans when patients do not respond to initial treatment.

Patience. Audiologists must work with patients who may need a lot of time and special attention.

Problem-solving skills. Audiologists must figure out the causes of problems with hearing and balance and determine the appropriate treatment or treatments to address them.

TOP INSTITUTES FOR THE STUDY OF AUDIOLOGY:

All India Institute of Speech and Hearing

Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research

University Of Mumbai

Dr. S.R. Chandrasekhar Institute Of Speech And Hearing

Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped Sri Ramachandra Medical College & Research Institute (Deemed University)

K. J. Somaiya Medical College

Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College,

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