Even though many of us remain current with our annual physical, dental cleaning, and eye exam, we often fail to take into account the well-being of our hearing. And when our hearing does start to diminish, it appears so gradually that we scarcely notice and fail to do something about it. 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 serve as a vital segment of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the proper operation of one of our principal senses — one for which we have a tendency to take for granted — is preserved or repaired.
Considering that we take hearing for granted, we usually also fail to recognize just how invaluable hearing is. With accurate hearing, we can enhance concentration, cherish the details of sound, communicate better, and strengthen family relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who make certain that this fundamental sense is functioning efficiently.
If you’d like to know more about this important 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 drawn to the field for a variety of reasons, but a couple different principal motivating factors are frequently present. First, many practitioners have endured, and continue to suffer with, hearing difficulties themselves. Considering the fact that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the need to return the favor for others is strong.
For example, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This would have resulted in 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 driven to enter the field and to assist others in the same way.
Other individuals are pulled into the hearing care field as a consequence of its distinctive mixture of counseling, problem solving, science, and technology. In combination with 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 people present a range of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to utilize the “soft skills” necessary to address these problems and must work with patients on a personal level to overcome hearing loss.
Training and preparation
Part of the appeal of working in the hearing care profession is the interesting mix of subjects included as part of the education and training. Those pursuing a career in the field learn interesting topics in diverse fields such as:
- Biology – topics include the anatomy and physiology of hearing, balance, the ear, and the brain, as well as courses 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, in addition to 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, as well as other fascinating topics in psychology and counseling.
- Professional practice – topics include diagnosing hearing problems, carrying out and interpreting hearing tests, employing hearing treatments, fitting and programming hearing aids, professional ethics, and operating a business.
Hearing care professionals work in a wide variety of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing varied activities such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance ailments.
Regular tasks involve carrying out diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on identifying the best hearing treatment, often times including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best suit the individual and will train the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with organizations and businesses to prevent hearing injuries in loud work conditions.
The benefits cited most frequently by individuals in the hearing care profession center on the opportunity to favorably impact people’s lives on a very personal level. Lifelong 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 a very long time, the emotions can be intense. Patients in many cases describe a feeling of reconnection to the world and to family, as well as strengthened relationships and an elevated overall quality of life.
How many professions can claim that kind of personal impact?