Although the majority of us keep up to date with our annual physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we usually fail to give consideration to the well-being of our hearing. And when our hearing does begin to deteriorate, it occurs so gradually that we scarcely notice and neglect to take action. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people curious to know what the occupation actually entails.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals serve as an important component of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the correct functioning 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 keep in mind just how important hearing is. With accurate hearing, we can boost attention, appreciate the details of sound, communicate better, and strengthen relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who make sure that this key sense is working correctly.
If you’d like to know more about this crucial but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re thinking about entering the field yourself — read on.
Attraction to the hearing care field
Hearing care professionals are drawn to the field for numerous reasons, but a couple different primary motivating factors are habitually present. First of all, 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 need to return the favor for other individuals is powerful.
To provide an example, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional practicing in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This could have led to an inability to communicate, but thanks to cochlear implants and hearing aids, Zoe is presently able to communicate normally. Understanding from experience how enhanced hearing leads to a much better life, Zoe was motivated to enter the field and to assist others in a similar manner.
Other practitioners are pulled into the hearing care field as a result of its unique blend of counseling, problem solving, science, and technology. Alongside learning about 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 matter, and people present a number 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 beat hearing loss.
Training and preparation
Part of the overall appeal of earning a living in the hearing care profession is the fascinating assortment of subjects included as part of the schooling and training. Those pursuing a career in the field study fascinating topics in diverse 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 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, along with 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 variety of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing various activities such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance conditions.
Regular duties include performing diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on determining the ideal hearing treatment, frequently 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 employers and companies to reduce the risk of hearing injuries in loud work locations.
The benefits offered most regularly by those in the hearing care profession center on the potential to positively influence people’s lives on a very personalized level. Lifelong friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also typical because of the personal nature of care.
When patients declare that they can hear again for the first time in years, the emotions can be overwhelming. Patients regularly report a feeling of reconnection to the world and to family, along with strengthened relationships and an improved overall quality of life.
How many vocations can claim that kind of personal impact?