While most of us remain up to date with our annual physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we typically forget to give consideration to the well-being of our hearing. And when our hearing does start to diminish, it appears so slowly and gradually that we hardly notice and neglect to do something about it. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people wonder what the occupation actually involves.
And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals serve as an essential segment of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the proper performance of one of our primary senses — one for which we have a tendency to take for granted — is maintained or repaired.
Seeing that we take hearing for granted, we often fail to recognize just how valuable hearing is. With precise hearing, we can sharpen attention, treasure the details of sound, communicate better, and strengthen family relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who see to it that this key sense is functioning properly.
If you’d like to know more about this essential but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re thinking about joining the field yourself — read on.
Attraction to the hearing care field
Hearing care professionals are attracted to the field for numerous reasons, but a few main motivating factors are repeatedly present. First, several practitioners have endured, and continue to endure, hearing troubles themselves. Seeing as they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the need to return the favor for other people is powerful.
As an example, 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 presently able to communicate normally. Knowing from experience how better hearing leads to a better life, Zoe was determined to enter the field and to help others in the same way.
Other people are pulled into the hearing care field due to its fascinating combination of counseling, problem solving, science, and technology. In conjunction 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. Coping with hearing loss is a sensitive situation, and people present a number of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to employ the “soft skills” necessary to manage these difficulties and must work with patients on a personalized level to overcome hearing loss.
Training and preparation
Part of the attractiveness of earning a living in the hearing care profession is the compelling assortment of subjects included as part of the education and training. Those pursuing a career in the field learn fascinating topics in different 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 production 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, in addition to other fascinating 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 starting a business.
Hearing care professionals work in a wide variety of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing diverse tasks such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance problems.
Traditional duties include conducting diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on deciding on the most effective hearing treatment, frequently including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best suit the individual and will instruct the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with organizations and companies to reduce the risk of hearing injuries in noisy work conditions.
The benefits quoted most frequently by people in the hearing care profession revolve around the capacity to favorably influence people’s lives on a very personal level. Lifelong friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also typical as a consequence of the personal nature of care.
When patients declare that they can hear again for the first time in ages, the emotions can be intense. Patients regularly report a feeling of reconnection to the world and to family, together with strengthened relationships and an enhanced overall quality of life.
How many occupations can claim that kind of personal impact?