Even though many of us keep up to date with our yearly physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we generally forget to think about the health of our hearing. And when our hearing does start to deteriorate, it takes place so slowly that we scarcely notice and neglect to do something about it. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people want to know what the occupation actually entails.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals serve as a critical component of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the proper performance of one of our principal senses — one in which we have a tendency to take for granted — is preserved or repaired.
Considering the fact that we take hearing for granted, we often fail to recognize just how valuable hearing is. With precise hearing, we can greatly improve attention, appreciate the details of sound, converse better, and strengthen relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who make sure that this essential sense is functioning properly.
If you’d like to learn more about this crucial but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re thinking of entering the field yourself — read on.
Attraction to the hearing care field
Hearing care professionals are attracted 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 complications themselves. Considering that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the need to repay the favor for other individuals is powerful.
For instance, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This could have caused an inability to communicate, but thanks to cochlear implants and hearing aids, Zoe is now able to communicate normally. Knowing from experience how enhanced hearing leads to a much better life, Zoe was inspired to enter the field and to assist others in a similar manner.
Other practitioners are driven into the hearing care field on account of its unique mixture of counseling, problem solving, science, and engineering. In combination with learning about the science of hearing and the design of hearing technology, practitioners also learn how to work with people in the role of a counselor. Dealing with hearing loss is a delicate situation, and patients present a number of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to employ the “soft skills” necessary to manage these challenges 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 fascinating combination of subjects included as part of the schooling and training. Those pursuing a career in the field learn fascinating topics in several 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 production and functioning 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, as well as other interesting topics in psychology and counseling.
- Professional practice – topics include diagnosing hearing problems, conducting and interpreting hearing tests, developing 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 problems.
Common duties consist of conducting diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on determining the most effective hearing treatment, very often including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best match 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 noisy work locations.
The benefits quoted most regularly by individuals in the hearing care profession revolve around the capacity to positively influence people’s lives on a very personalized level. Lifelong friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also prevalent as a result of the personal nature of care.
When patients report that they can hear again for the first time in ages, the emotions can be intense. Patients commonly report a feeling of reconnection to the world and to family, as well as improved relationships and an enhanced overall quality of life.
How many occupations can claim that kind of personal impact?