The role of an Audiologist

As a student in my last semester of Clinical Audiology and studying for my final exams, I just wanted to take some time to reflect on what I have learnt over the past two years.

There is so much that I’ve learnt that it hurts my head, and sometimes I am left wondering what the primary focus really is. I’ve learnt all these concepts and theories but predominately, there’s a whole bunch of things that I have quickly forgotten…so here I am thinking, what is really the most important quality of an Audiologist?

I remember in my very first day of class, the lecturer asked us, ‘why did you choose Audiology?’ and I remember that the general consensus was because we wanted to help people. The lecturer then told us that every year, the students all commence the course wanting to help people, but often by the end of the degree, they are too focused on the technical aspects of audiology that they forget the most basic and fundamental things like, thinking of the client as a unique individual and a whole person; yes, an actual person like you and me. Low and behold, that’s exactly what happened throughout the course of my degree. I became so focused on trying to keep up with all the theory and passing my units that at the end of each semester I’m left wondering, what did I actually learn? Don’t get me wrong, when I am listening to lectures and studying, I find it fascinating and can understand what I am learning most of the time, but because there’s just so much content to grasp, my tiny brain just can’t keep up. It fizzles and shuts down once exams are over after each semester, and I can’t seem to retain what I learn. I honestly am not sure how I have gotten this far into my degree, all I can do is thank and praise God.

So here are just a few personal reflections (of course this list is not exhaustive and is meant to be brief. I don’t want to go into too much detail as I could write pages and pages. Moreover, I am not an expert. I am merely sharing what I have learnt in class):

  • One primary goal is to improve an individual’s communication ability in order for it to help with different areas of their life.

    People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing often face many difficulties and challenges that people without hearing loss may have never thought of. As Helen Keller (who was both blind and deaf) once said:

    “Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people.”

    Not only does hearing loss have significant social impacts, it also affects a person’s emotional and psychological wellbeing (which can stem from social isolation). It’s difficult to imagine a world without sound. But if you want to experience even just a tiny snippet of what it is like not being able to hear clearly, try wearing earplugs for a day and do your daily activities. But of course, take necessary caution for when you cross the road or for when you are in a hazardous environment.

    Improving one’s communication ability does not necessarily mean hearing aids or cochlear implants (although much of the time it is). It could (also) mean recommending assistive listening devices (ALDs), educating about listening tactics and repair strategies to aid communication, as well as other options. But of course, this differs from person to person as there are many individual factors to consider, such as their specific listening needs, their type and degree of hearing loss, individual physiology, lifestyle, motivation, expectations, etc. Just because two people have exactly the same configuration of hearing loss does not mean they will have the same outcomes.

  • Audiometrist DOES NOT equal Audiologist

    Essentially, in Australia, Audiometrists are required to complete a TAFE certificate, whilst Audiologists are required to complete a Master’s degree. The scope of practice and services provided by Audiologists are much broader and more specialised than Audiometrists.
    Click here for a simple comparison.
  • Generally, Audiologists distinguish themselves from some medical professionals by steering away from the medical model, and instead, focus on rehabilitation and patient-centred care.

    Medical
    model says: I do this to you.
    Rehabilitative model says: Let’s do this together.

 

  • If I became an Audiologist, I would want to be an Audiologist, not a sales person.

    I would do my best to recommend things that I believed would be best for my client, and not to recommend anything for the sake of meeting sales targets or for financial incentives, as tempting as that might be, I know that it would not be glorifying to God, nor would it be loving or beneficial to others.

 

There are many other aspects to audiology that I could have mentioned, and I could have gone into more detail, but I thought I’d leave it at that, really just as a reminder for myself as well!

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