When it comes to hearing care, there’s no shortage of information about today’s astounding technological advances. But what about the professionals who work every day to help demystify hearing care and hearing aids, and provide people with clearer hearing?
Audiologists—those who have earned doctorates (Au.D.) in the field of audiology—are the medical professionals who are trained to diagnose, manage and treat hearing or balance problems for people of all ages.
Like physicians, dentists or chiropractors, audiologists specialize in ensuring you get care that improves your life.
In this installment of our Sound Advice blog series, we spoke with three Connect Hearing audiologist about what makes them tick, and what advice they’d have for aspiring hearing care professionals.
Douglas Richards has been an audiologist for over 40 years, and joined Connect Hearing in 2010. He has decades of industry experience through his work in private practice as well as with Schools for the Deaf.
Lora Schwallie has been an audiologist for over 29 years, and has been with Connect Hearing for 25 years. She has an extensive background in diagnostic testing, balance disorder evaluations, and has also conducted research.
Marjorie Klaskin has been an audiologist for over 20 years and has worked in private practice, hospitals, and a school for the deaf. Currently, she’s using her diverse background to help improve the lives of patients at Connect Hearing.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
“I still remember the excitement and a mother’s tears when I did my first hearing aid fitting to a five-year-old profoundly hearing-impaired boy. He responded to [his mother] calling his name from behind him with a big smile of excitement, and I remember her tears of joy that he could finally hear her. I am now fitting the children of that five-year-old boy and still enjoy the excitement of the gift of hearing.”
“I’ve worked as an audiologist for almost 30 years because it allows me to guide my clients through the process of improving their ability to enjoy communication with their family, friends and co-workers.”
“As an audiologist, the most rewarding part of my job is when you get people whose lives you’ve changed ... and when these people come back to you and they tell you how much you've changed their lives. And what I really like about Connect Hearing is that we can focus on the customer experience.”
Why did you choose a career in audiology?
“I have to laugh every time someone asks me this question—it was pure accident. I had never heard of audiology before taking a speech and hearing science class in college and got excited about the hearing anatomy, the medical issues, and the challenge to identify the problem and a possible solution. After that class, I was totally focused on audiology and have never stopped learning.”
“Originally, I had decided to become a speech language therapist because I have several relatives who stutter. In college, my program included audiology and as I learned more about our ears and hearing loss, I became very interested in helping people improve their hearing and communication skills.”
“I really wanted to go back to school for speech therapy and I had to take a semester of prerequisites. One of those courses was audiology, and I immediately fell in love with it. I switched my major right then and there, and ended up going for my masters in audiology. Twenty-six years later I still have no regrets.”
What advice would you give to someone considering this career?
“Audiology is a very rewarding career. However, there are many changes and challenges happening at this time. You need to be open to change and enjoy working with a variety of patient ages and temperaments. You also need to be willing to help with a personal, caring nature and honesty. And most of all be willing to keep learning.”
“It is important to develop great listening skills and the ability to draw honest responses about a patient’s hearing difficulties. This is the best way to help them improve their communication. It’s also important to be aware that there is usually more than one solution to most hearing needs. Finally, it’s critical to develop counseling skills for them and their families.”
“I would cater my advice to whether you want to focus on audiology or becoming a hearing instrument specialist. I think both are really good careers. If you want to work with diagnostics, cochlear implants, balance and do more specialized testing work in hospitals, I would recommend an audiology degree.”
“If what you want to do is fit and sell hearing aids, I would recommend going for your hearing aid specialist license and becoming a board-certified hearing instrument specialist.”
A big thank you to our dedicated hearing care experts who contributed to this post and generously shared more about their careers! Want to learn more about working as a hearing care professional? Feel free to reach out to us.
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And of course, don’t forget to look for another round-up in the coming weeks!