While the majority of us keep up to date with our once-a-year physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we typically forget to give thought to the well-being of our hearing. And when our hearing does begin to worsen, it arises so gradually that we scarcely notice and neglect to do something about it. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people question what the career actually entails.

And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals account for a vital component of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the proper operation of one of our primary senses — one in which we tend to take for granted — is preserved or restored.

Due to the fact that we take hearing for granted, we often fail to fully grasp just how important hearing is. With precise hearing, we can sharpen attention, take pleasure in the details of sound, communicate better, and strengthen family relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who make certain that this essential sense is functioning efficiently.

If you’d like to find out more about this valuable but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re considering joining the field yourself — read on.

Attraction to the hearing care field

Hearing care professionals are driven to the field for many reasons, but a few central motivating factors are frequently present. First of all, several practitioners have endured, and continue to suffer from, hearing problems themselves. Due to the fact that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the desire to return the favor for other people is strong.

For 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 currently able to communicate normally. Recognizing first-hand how healthier hearing leads to a much better life, Zoe was motivated to enter the field and to help others in the same way.

Other practitioners are enticed into the hearing care field because of its unique mixture of counseling, problem solving, science, and engineering. In addition to 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. Coping with hearing loss is a delicate matter, and people present an assortment of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to employ the “soft skills” required to address these difficulties and must work with patients on a personal level to defeat hearing loss.

Training and preparation

Part of the appeal of earning a living in the hearing care profession is the interesting mix of subjects covered as part of the education and training. Those pursuing a career in the field study fascinating topics in a variety of fields such as:

  • Biology – topics include the anatomy and physiology of hearing, balance, the ear, and the brain, in addition to 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 operation 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, conducting and interpreting hearing tests, applying hearing treatments, fitting and programming hearing aids, professional ethics, and running a business.

Job functions

Hearing care professionals work in a range of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing varied activities such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance ailments.

Traditional tasks consist of carrying out diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on selecting the best hearing treatment, frequently 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 companies to prevent hearing damage in high decibel work settings.

Benefits

The benefits offered most frequently by those in the hearing care profession revolve around the opportunity to favorably impact people’s lives on a very personalized level. Long-lasting friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also typical as a result of the personal nature of care.

When patients state that they can hear again for the first time in a long time, the emotions can be intense. Patients oftentimes describe a sense of reconnection to the world and to family, along with improved relationships and an improved overall quality of life.

How many professions can claim that kind of personal impact?

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