While the majority of us remain current with our yearly physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we usually fail to think about the well-being of our hearing. And when our hearing does start to weaken, it occurs so slowly that we barely notice and neglect 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 involves.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals make up an essential part 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 repaired.
Seeing that we take hearing for granted, we usually also fail to comprehend just how valuable hearing is. With accurate hearing, we can strengthen concentration, treasure the details of sound, converse better, and strengthen working relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who make certain that this fundamental sense is working efficiently.
If you’d like to discover more about this interesting but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re interested in joining the field yourself — read on.
Attraction to the hearing care field
Hearing care professionals are driven to the field for a variety of reasons, but a few primary motivating factors are frequently present. First of all, several practitioners have experienced, and continue to suffer from, hearing complications themselves. Due to the fact that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the need to return the favor for other people is strong.
For instance, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This could have produced an inability to communicate, but thanks to cochlear implants and hearing aids, Zoe is currently able to communicate normally. Appreciating first-hand how improved hearing leads to a much better life, Zoe was motivated to enter the field and to assist others in the same way.
Other individuals are attracted into the hearing care field thanks to its unique combination of counseling, problem solving, science, and engineering. In combination with 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 patients present an assortment of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to use the “soft skills” needed to address these issues and must work with patients on a personalized level to defeat hearing loss.
Training and education
Part of the allure of earning a living in the hearing care profession is the interesting mix 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, as well as classes 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 development and functioning of hearing technology such as assistive listening devices, hearing aids, and cochlear implants, as well as 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 fascinating topics in psychology and counseling.
- Professional practice – topics include diagnosing hearing problems, performing and interpreting hearing tests, employing hearing treatments, fitting and programming hearing aids, professional ethics, and starting a business.
Hearing care professionals work in a range of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing various activities such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance conditions.
Traditional tasks involve performing diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on identifying the most effective 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 businesses to prevent hearing damage in noisy work locations.
The benefits quoted most frequently by those in the hearing care profession center on the power to favorably influence people’s lives on a very personal 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 decades, the emotions can be intense. Patients more often than not report a feeling of reconnection to the world and to family, along with strengthened relationships and an improved overall quality of life.
How many careers can claim that kind of personal impact?