Although most of us remain up to date with our annual physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we generally forget to give consideration to the well-being of our hearing. And when our hearing does start to worsen, 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 wonder what the career actually involves.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals serve as a crucial segment of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the correct operation of one of our principal senses — one for which we have a tendency to take for granted — is preserved or restored.
Seeing that we take hearing for granted, we usually also fail to recognize just how valuable hearing is. With precise hearing, we can boost focus, savor the details of sound, communicate better, and strengthen family relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who see to it that this essential sense is working efficiently.
If you’d like to learn more about this important but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re contemplating joining the field yourself — read on.
Attraction to the hearing care field
Hearing care professionals are attracted to the field for several reasons, but a few main motivating factors are repeatedly present. First of all, several practitioners have endured, and continue to experience, hearing problems themselves. Given that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the urge to repay the favor for other people is powerful.
For instance, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional practicing 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 now able to communicate normally. Recognizing from experience how enhanced hearing leads to a better life, Zoe was driven to enter the field and to help others in the same way.
Other people are attracted into the hearing care field because of its fascinating mixture of counseling, problem solving, science, and engineering. In addition to learning about the science of hearing and the engineering of hearing technology, practitioners also learn how to work with individuals 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” necessary to address these challenges and must work with patients on a personal level to overcome hearing loss.
Training and education
Part of the attractiveness of working in the hearing care profession is the fascinating mixture of subjects covered as part of the schooling and training. Those pursuing a career in the field master interesting topics in wide-ranging 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, as well as other interesting 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 varying tasks such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance conditions.
Common duties involve conducting diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on determining the ideal hearing treatment, often including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best fit the individual and will instruct the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with organizations and businesses to prevent hearing damage in noisy work locations.
The benefits offered most regularly by people in the hearing care profession center on the opportunity to favorably impact people’s lives on a very personalized level. Lifelong friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also prevalent because of the personal nature of care.
When patients convey that they can hear again for the first time in decades, the emotions can be intense. Patients oftentimes describe a sense of reconnection to the world and to family, in addition to strengthened relationships and an improved overall quality of life.
How many occupations can claim that kind of personal impact?