Although the majority of us keep current with our once-a-year physical, dental cleaning, and eye exam, we usually fail to consider the health of our hearing. And when our hearing does start to worsen, it develops so slowly and 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 curious to know what the occupation actually entails.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals serve as a significant component of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the proper functioning of one of our primary senses — one in which we have a tendency to take for granted — is preserved or repaired.
Given that we take hearing for granted, we often fail to fully grasp just how valuable hearing is. With precise hearing, we can increase focus, take pleasure in the details of sound, communicate better, and strengthen relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who make certain that this vital sense is functioning properly.
If you’d like to learn more about this important but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re considering joining 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 key motivating factors are consistently present. First of all, many practitioners have endured, and continue to suffer with, hearing complications themselves. Given that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the desire to return the favor for others is strong.
For instance, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This could have resulted in an inability to communicate, but thanks to cochlear implants and hearing aids, Zoe is currently able to communicate normally. Knowing first-hand how healthier hearing leads to a better life, Zoe was passionate to enter the field and to help others in the same manner.
Other individuals are enticed into the hearing care field because of its fascinating blend of counseling, problem solving, science, and technology. Alongside 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 a variety of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to make use of the “soft skills” required to deal with these issues and must work with patients on a personal level to beat hearing loss.
Training and education
Part of the appeal of earning a living in the hearing care profession is the stimulating assortment of subjects covered as part of the schooling and training. Those pursuing a career in the field study fascinating topics in various 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 operation of hearing technology such as assistive listening devices, hearing aids, and cochlear implants, along with 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 interesting 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 starting a business.
Hearing care professionals work in a wide variety of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing diverse activities such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance issues.
Typical duties consist of conducting diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on selecting the optimal hearing treatment, often times including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best fit the individual and will teach the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with employers and companies to protect against hearing injuries in high decibel work situations.
The benefits mentioned most regularly by people 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 prevalent because of the personal nature of care.
When patients declare that they can hear again for the first time in a long time, the emotions can be intense. Patients commonly describe a sense of reconnection to the world and to family, along with strengthened relationships and an elevated overall quality of life.
How many occupations can claim that kind of personal impact?