Three Types of Hearing Care Providers
Hi, I’m Dr. Egan and today I am going to talk to you about a couple different roles you might find in an audiology clinic. Those roles would be an audiologist, a hearing instrument specialist, and an audiology assistant, so let’s get to it. The first one is an audiologist. An audiologist is someone who went to school specifically to specialize in audiology. Typically, they are a Doctor of Audiology who did 4 years of undergraduate in speech and hearing sciences and chose to further specialize in just the hearing system and receive a doctorate in audiology after 4 years. During that time, they spend a lot of time in classwork understanding the anatomy of the hearing system, hearing aid solutions, cochlear implants. So, the problem, and understanding hearing loss and all the possible solutions that could entail. They are also trained in depth at understanding the limits of their scope of practice and knowing when it’s time to refer to an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) physician for their medical perspective. So, I am an audiologist. I have a doctorate of audiology form UNC, and I specialized in all things hearing loss, and specifically hearing aid specialization, so programming of hearing aid devices. I am also well versed in the other kinds of treatment, so when patients come in and don’t need hearing aids, I know exactly who to send them to receive the proper care.
After Audiologists, you might run into hearing instrument specialists. These are providers who specialize in hearing aids. It’s a mentorship and a training. It’s not through an official university institution, and there’s not official degree through a university as a result. It does take a bit of time to complete, but it’s more around 1-2 years vs. eight years of educational training that an audiologist goes through. They specialize in all things hearing aids but are less well versed in things like diagnostic testing, cochlear implants, ENT referral, and tinnitus management.
Lastly, we have audiology assistants. These are providers who specialize in supporting an audiologist in their day-to-day tasks. So, for example, an audiology assistant might help with the cleaning of hearing aids, but they’re not going to diagnose hearing loss or recommend what type of hearing treatment would work best for that patient.
We do have some exciting news in our clinic! Our practice manager, Dawn is currently undergoing training to become an audiology assistant. We are super excited about this news because we are just growing like crazy, and she is going to be able to help with day-to-day operations of maintaining our equipment, sending things off for repair, and helping with last minute drop-in or walk-in appointments. So, we are really excited, she is doing a great job at her training, and I think that’s only going to be a great thing moving forward.
I hope you learned a little bit about audiologists, hearing instruments specialists, and audiology assistants today. If you notice, we don’t have a hearing instrument specialist here, but you might run into those in other clinics. Of, course, make sure that you advocate for yourself and learn exactly who you are working with, what their role is, and what their limitations are. If you have any questions, give us a call, otherwise have a wonderful rest of your day!