Even though the majority of us remain current with our once-a-year physical, dental cleaning, and eye exam, we notoriously forget to take into account the well-being of our hearing. And when our hearing does start to diminish, it takes place so gradually that we barely notice and fail to do something about it. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people wonder what the profession actually involves.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals serve as a significant segment of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the correct operation of one of our key senses — one in which we often 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 priceless hearing is. With precise hearing, we can boost attention, cherish the details of sound, communicate better, and strengthen friendships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who ensure that this essential sense is working correctly.
If you’d like to know more about this valuable but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re interested in entering the field yourself — read on.
Attraction to the hearing care field
Hearing care professionals are attracted to the field for a variety of reasons, but a couple different central motivating factors are frequently present. First, many practitioners have endured, and continue to endure, hearing conditions themselves. Due to the fact that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the impulse to return the favor for other individuals is powerful.
For instance, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional practicing in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This could 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 determined to enter the field and to assist others in the same manner.
Other individuals are drawn into the hearing care field because of its fascinating blend of counseling, problem solving, science, and engineering. In addition to studying the science of hearing and the engineering of hearing technology, practitioners also learn how to work with people in the role of a counselor. Coping with hearing loss is a sensitive matter, and people present an assortment of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to apply the “soft skills” needed to deal with these challenges and must work with patients on an individual level to conquer hearing loss.
Training and education
Part of the appeal of earning a living in the hearing care profession is the intriguing assortment of subject areas included as part of the schooling and training. Those pursuing a career in the field study interesting topics in varying 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 production 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, in addition to 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 running a business.
Hearing care professionals work in a number of of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing varied tasks such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance issues.
Conventional tasks involve conducting diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on choosing the ideal hearing treatment, often times including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best accommodate the individual and will train the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with employers and businesses to protect against hearing damage in high decibel work situations.
The benefits reported most regularly by individuals in the hearing care profession revolve around the potential to favorably influence people’s lives on a very personalized level. Long-lasting friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also common thanks to the personal nature of care.
When patients state that they can hear again for the first time in years, the emotions can be overwhelming. Patients commonly 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?