While the majority of us remain up to date with our yearly physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we generally forget to give consideration to the well-being of our hearing. And when our hearing does begin to diminish, it appears so slowly and 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 career actually entails.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals represent a key part 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 tend to take for granted — is preserved or restored.
Considering that we take hearing for granted, we usually also fail to recognize just how critical hearing is. With precise hearing, we can help to increase concentration, savor the details of sound, converse better, and strengthen working relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who ensure that this essential sense is functioning correctly.
If you’d like to know more about this essential 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 number of reasons, but a couple different central motivating factors are repeatedly present. First of all, several practitioners have experienced, and continue to suffer with, hearing troubles themselves. Seeing as they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the desire to return the favor for others is powerful.
As an example, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This would have produced an inability to communicate, but thanks to cochlear implants and hearing aids, Zoe is currently able to communicate normally. Knowing first-hand how improved hearing leads to a better life, Zoe was driven to enter the field and to assist others in the same way.
Other individuals are drawn into the hearing care field on account of its fascinating mixture of counseling, problem solving, science, and technology. Together with learning about 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 delicate matter, and patients present a variety of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to use the “soft skills” needed to deal with these issues and must work with patients on a personalized level to beat hearing loss.
Training and education
Part of the attractiveness of working in the hearing care profession is the interesting assortment of topics included as part of the schooling and training. Those pursuing a career in the field study fascinating topics in assorted fields such as:
- Biology – topics include the anatomy and physiology of hearing, balance, the ear, and the brain, in addition to 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 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 fascinating topics in psychology and counseling.
- Professional practice – topics include diagnosing hearing problems, performing and interpreting hearing tests, implementing hearing treatments, fitting and programming hearing aids, professional ethics, and managing a business.
Hearing care professionals work in a range of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing diverse tasks such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance conditions.
Normal duties involve conducting diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on choosing the optimal hearing treatment, frequently including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best fit the individual and will educate the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with employers and businesses to protect against hearing injuries in noisy work settings.
The benefits reported most regularly by people in the hearing care profession center on the potential to positively influence people’s lives on a very personal level. Lifelong friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also common as a consequence of the personal nature of care.
When patients state that they can hear again for the first time in a long time, the emotions can be overwhelming. Patients more often than not report a feeling of reconnection to the world and to family, together with strengthened relationships and an improved overall quality of life.
How many professions can claim that kind of personal impact?