What does an Audiologist do?

Posted on September 1, 2017 in Health Education, Topic of Interest, Videos | Short Link
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Hello.  I’m Dr. Suzanne Yoder.  I’m an audiologist and I own an audiology practice specializing in treating hearing loss.

This video serves as an introduction to audiology.  I will be covering the following topics: What is audiology, what are the types of audiologists and what are the educational requirements for an audiologist and how audiologists differ from medical physicians and dispensers. If after viewing this video you would like to share a comment or request topics for future videos please use the contact information at the end of the video to contact HealthBridges.

Audiology is the study of hearing and communication disorders.  Audiologists are trained to diagnose hearing disorders of all types and to formulate treatment plans for solutions that meet the patient’s needs.  Audiologists are trained to implement many of these treatment plans directly.  Audiologists are not medical physicians and therefore do not provide medical-based treatment such as surgery or medication.  Audiologists provide differential diagnosis which means that they can determine if a hearing loss needs medical care.  If so, part of the treatment plan may include a referral for a medical examination to determine if medical treatment will help with the hearing loss.  Audiologists are highly trained in the treatment of hearing loss for communication needs.  This means that audiologists can provide solutions for hearing loss that cannot be cured by medical intervention.  Audiology-related solutions include hearing aids, FM systems, assistive devices, alerting devices, auditory training, instruction and counseling on coping strategies, communication strategies and listening skills, tinnitus management solutions, cochlear implants and other implants, hearing protection, counseling and training on hearing conservation, and more.  Audiologists are also highly trained in the area of vestibular disorders and provide help to patients with loss of balance and dizziness.

 

Since audiology is such a diverse profession, audiologists can be found in many different places.

The medical audiologist

Audiologists work in hospitals and medical facilities.  This type of audiologist will focus on medical-related hearing disorders.  They typically work in a team alongside other audiologists, ear nose and throat physicians, otologists, neurologists, surgeons, other medical physicians, nurses, physical therapists, occupation therapists, speech and language therapists and more.  They can be found in both the clinic assisting with appointments, in the OR, assisting with surgeries (operating room) and in the maternity ward, assisting with newborn screenings. Medical audiologists see many types of patients and perform many duties including hearing testing, activation and programming of implants, hearing aids, newborn hearing screenings and more. Medical audiologists may see patients of all ages but some will specialize in pediatrics, newborns or adults.  Some may also specialize in cochlear implants. Others may specialize in disorders such as tinnitus or auditory processing disorders.

The military audiologist

Audiologists can be found in the military and working at military facilities.  Military audiologists join the military.  They may be found in military bases or military hospitals around the country and even outside of the country.  They perform the same roles as medical audiologists but some will focus solely on hearing conservation and hearing protection for soldiers.

The educational audiologist

Audiologists can be found in schools.  These audiologists work with school aged children to access needs in the classroom and provided additional support for hearing and communication.  Educational audiologists work alongside teachers and school administration, other audiologists, speech language pathologists and parents.  They will attend meetings for IEPs and write supporting reports to help children obtain the services needed in school.  They focus on classroom hearing and therefore work primarily with assistive technology such as FM system, microphone systems and the hearing aids and implants that their students wear.  They are often mobile and will cover multiple schools within a county or several counties.

The industrial audiologist

Audiologists can be found in industrial complexes.  These audiologists focus on hearing protection and training workers about the harmful effects of loud noise.  They work with wellness directors, nurses and OSHA compliance directors.  They will do hearing testing and make hearing protection. They provide classes in hearing conservation.

The private practice audiologist

An audiologist that works in private practice can be located anywhere in the community.  They can be in small offices or large ones and they can work alone or with many other audiologists.  They typically will focus on treatments for non-medical hearing disorders but this is not true for all private practices.  Private practices may have contracts to see military patients, do industrial work or provide education audiology services. They can also work with medical-related hearing losses by teaming up with local physicians.

The research and academic audiologist

Audiologists are also teachers and researchers and are found in universities.  They study areas of hearing and communication that are not well understood, conduct research, publish articles and teach.

Other types

There is a lesser known specialization called animal audiology which is the study of hearing loss in animals. These audiologists may work alongside veterinarians.  They often assist with service animals such as police dogs or horses.

 

Audiology educational requirements in the United States are graduate school education for doctorate degree.  A person interested in becoming a clinical audiologist first earns their bachelor’s degree in communication science and disorders and then earns their doctorate degree in audiology, usually the Au.D.  The total years of college is 7-8 years depending on the program.  An academic audiologist that is interested in research usually obtains a Ph.D. although some academic audiologists have other types of doctorates.  Finishing a Ph.D. could add another 2-5 years depending on the program of study. Audiologists are required to obtain 2000 clinical hours prior to receiving a license and will spend approximately a year as an intern.  Once licensed and audiologist must maintain their education by attending classes for CEUs aka continuing education units and provide this proof to their state. Some audiologists will obtain board certification as well, although this is not required to be licensed. Board certification requires an audiologist to take evidence-based classes for their CEUs as well as ethics trainings.

 

Audiologists differ from ear, nose and throat physicians and otologists in several ways.  The audiology degree is clinical and not medical.  Audiologists do not train to do surgeries or provide medical procedures. Audiologists study more about communication issues and how to meet patient’s goals for hearing better to communicate.  Physicians have training on how to resolve medical issues of the ear but are not well trained on the communications aspect.

 

Contact information: Contact the Hearwell Center

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Link: American Academy of Audiology

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