How Do I Become An Audiologist?
Audiologists are professionals who focus on diagnosing and treating people with disorders in hearing and balance. They use various testing equipment to determine where the problem lies and prescribe the mode of treatment that will be administered. Depending on the diagnosis, they can provide relief by doing something as simple as prescribing regular exercises to provide relief for vertigo, cleaning the ear canals to improve hearing or doing something more complicated as fitting the patient with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
The educational road towards becoming an audiologist is quite lengthy. After high school, aspiring audiologists need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in any field. This will take four years. Because this is a medical profession, high school students who want to become audiologists should fortify their knowledge by taking up biology, chemistry and other science subjects. They would also do well to take up subjects in English and communication. In college, those who take up courses that lean towards the sciences or communication will also better prepare themselves for a career as an audiologist.
After they have obtained their bachelor’s degree, audiologists need to enroll in a graduate program that would allow them to obtain their doctoral degree in audiology (Au.D.). This will take another four years of study. In this program, students will study topics like physiology, anatomy, genetics, communication development, physics, ethics, diagnosis and treatment and pharmacology.
They will also be given a dose of real world experience through supervised clinical practice. It’s important that when choosing an Au.D. program, students should enroll only in one that is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation as this is a requirement in majority of the states for licensure.
All states require audiologists to be licensed but their requirements differ from one state to the next. Specific details can be provided by the state’s licensing board for audiologists. Some employers or states further require that audiologists be certified. While not a mandatory requirement, a certification will certainly enhance one’s credentials. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association provides the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A). Credentials can also be earned through the American Board of Audiology.
In addition to fulfilling the educational, certification and licensure requirements, audiologists should possess particular traits to make them effective in their chosen career. For starters, they should be compassionate just like other healthcare professionals. It’s not easy to experience hearing problems, especially when the hearing loss is gradual, so audiologists should provide the necessary support to their patients and their loved ones.
When conducting various tests to diagnose the problem, audiologists also need to assess each patient’s condition carefully and critically in order to come up with the most effective way to treat the problem.
Being an effective communicator is also important in this profession since audiologists have to make sure that patients and their families understand what the problem is and what the possible treatment alternatives are. They should also be patient since hearing disorders are not illnesses that immediately respond to treatment. It can take time. They should also communicate this to the patient’s family so that won’t feel frustrated at the entire situation.
Audiologists should also be sharp enough to refer the patient to an ear, nose and throat doctor once he feels that the problem can be better solved by the latter. In the event that patients do not respond well to the first treatment salvo, audiologists should waste no time in reevaluating the case and coming up with alternatives.
Audiologists may opt to work with children or with the elderly. The demand for this occupation is the increasing population of baby boomers. This group experiences hearing loss more than younger populations and as such, they will spur the need for audiologists. Strides made in the area of hearing aid design are also going to fuel demand for this profession as people are more inclined to use them to prevent hearing problems from developing or from getting worse.