Playing an important role in modern medicine, an audiologist is an expert who works on hearing and hearing defects. Audiologists tend to be specialists who work on providing the best care for hearing disorders, and can take on many different roles within various institutions.
What, then, are some of the key tasks that an audiologist carries out, and what paths do they take to their careers? Moreover, what are some of the most recent developments in hearing aids and care, and what impact can new technologies like Invisible Hearing Aids make on patients?
The primary role taken by an audiologist is to fit hearing aids, perform tests, and conduct research into improving hearing technologies. An audiologist can work on making tailored hearing aids for patients, and can also perform cochlear implants.
An audiologist may also carry out hearing tests, and can act as a consultant within a hospital for patients that have suffered a sudden loss of hearing. In this context, an audiologist may work in their own private clinic, in a public hospital, or within specialist areas like military or school work, or in paediatric medicine.
Most audiologists are advanced members of their field, and have postgraduate qualifications; their career paths can begin with NVQs in Health Care, as well as GCSEs and A Levels in Science. BSc’s can also be taken in Healthcare Science, with a specialism in Audiology.
University graduates can go on to take NHS Practitioner or NHS Scientist Training qualifications, which will allow them to work and research on hearing loss and aids. Audiologists also tend to be a member of the British Society of Audiology, as well as the Health and Care Professions Council.
What Audiologists do
In terms of day to day work, an audiologist might conduct routine ear tests, as well as rehabilitation for patients with long term conditions; an audiologist may also provide consultancy across a hospital, and might participate in clinical trials and assess test results.
Many audiologists have fixed roles within neonatal and postnatal wards, and take control of smaller teams conducting hearing tests. A large part of an audiologist’s work may also, in this sense, be devoted to researching new technologies and publishing on them. Audiologists that take on teaching roles within a hospital or University can combine this research with duties as lecturers and instructors.
Recent advances in audiology have included smaller, digital hearing aids, which have been designed and tested to offer more discreet enhancements for patients. Invisible hearing aids fit into this category as a technology that has been available since around 2011; about 16mm deep, these devices are fitted within, rather than over the ear, and can respond much more precisely to changes in the direction of sound.
Digital hearing aids of this sort can also be worn in the shower and during exercise, and don’t require rechargeable batteries. An audiologist will design and fit these hearing aids for individual patients, with payments being made on a subscription basis, and regular tuneups and checks performed to make sure that the aids are working.