Although the majority of us keep up to date with our yearly physical, dental cleaning, and eye exam, we generally forget to give consideration to the well-being of our hearing. And when our hearing does begin to decline, it appears so slowly that we hardly notice and fail to do something about it. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people wonder what the occupation actually involves.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals serve as an important part of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the proper operation of one of our major senses — one in which we usually tend to take for granted — is maintained or restored.
Considering the fact that we take hearing for granted, we usually also fail to understand just how valuable hearing is. With accurate hearing, we can help to increase attention, treasure the details of sound, converse better, and strengthen relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who ensure that this fundamental sense is functioning correctly.
If you’d like to know more about this important but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re interested in joining the field yourself — read on.
Attraction to the hearing care field
Hearing care professionals are attracted to the field for several reasons, but a few central motivating factors are frequently present. First of all, many practitioners have experienced, and continue to suffer from, hearing troubles themselves. Seeing as they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the need to repay the favor for others is powerful.
For instance, 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 presently able to communicate normally. Realizing first-hand how improved hearing leads to a much better life, Zoe was passionate to enter the field and to help others in a similar manner.
Other practitioners are driven into the hearing care field on account of its distinctive mixture of counseling, problem solving, science, and technology. In conjunction with studying the science of hearing and the design of hearing technology, practitioners also learn how to work with individuals in the role of a counselor. Dealing with hearing loss is a sensitive situation, and people present an assortment of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to make use of the “soft skills” required to manage these issues and must work with patients on a personalized level to overcome hearing loss.
Training and education
Part of the overall appeal of working in the hearing care profession is the stimulating mix of subject areas included as part of the education and training. Those pursuing a career in the field learn fascinating 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 instruction 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 development and operation of hearing technology such as assistive listening devices, hearing aids, and cochlear implants, as well as 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, applying hearing treatments, fitting and programming hearing aids, professional ethics, and starting a business.
Hearing care professionals work in a number of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing diverse activities such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance ailments.
Common tasks involve carrying out diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on deciding on the optimum hearing treatment, very often including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best accommodate the individual and will coach the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with organizations and businesses to reduce the risk of hearing injuries in high decibel work locations.
The benefits mentioned most frequently by those in the hearing care profession revolve around the potential to positively impact people’s lives on a very personal level. Long-lasting friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also common thanks to the personal nature of care.
When patients announce that they can hear again for the first time in decades, the emotions can be overwhelming. Patients regularly 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 professions can claim that kind of personal impact?