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Audiology and People with Hearing Loss

audiologyWe all know what an audiologist is, right? She’s the person who tests our hearing and prescribes hearing aids to help those with hearing loss hear better.

That may be the common perception, but there’s a bit more to it than that. The American Academy of Audiology Position Paper on the Scope of Practice includes several paragraphs that define the audiologist’s role. It states, in part:

“An audiologist is a person who, by virtue of academic degree, clinical training, and license to practice and/or professional credential, is uniquely qualified to provide a comprehensive array of professional services related to the assessment and habilitation/rehabilitation of persons with auditory and vestibular impairments, and to the prevention of these impairments. Audiologists serve in a number of roles including clinician, therapist, teacher, consultant, researcher and administrator. In addition, the supervising audiologist maintains legal and ethical responsibility for all assigned audiology activities provided by audiology assistants and audiology students.”

The minimum required academic credential for an audiologist is currently a Master’s Degree, but there is a movement afoot to increase the requirement to a Doctorate. The Audiology Foundation of America is one of the organizations leading this drive.

Whether a Master’s Degree or a Doctorate is the appropriate degree, the bottom line is that audiologists need to know a lot about each aspect of hearing and balance. An audiologist applies only a small portion of that knowledge to treat a typical patient, but it should be reassuring to know that additional knowledge is there if needed.

Audiologists are often the cornerstone of hearing loss treatment; they are typically the first hearing professional a consumer sees, and they are intimately involved in resolving a client’s hearing loss issues.