Choosing the right audiologist will help you to feel relaxed and get the most out of your hearing test. But how do you go about finding a professional with whom you feel comfortable and who understands your needs?
Be Clear on Who You’re Seeing
When you make that appointment for a hearing test, ask a direct question: Am I seeing an audiologist or a hearing aid dispenser?
There is a big difference in the qualifications, training, and expertise between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser.
A hearing aid dispenser has not trained to postgraduate level and is not qualified to do anything other than perform a basic hearing test, fit and dispense hearing aids. If you still aren’t clear who you are seeing, look for the initial ‘HIS’ after the person’s name, as this denotes ‘Hearing aid dispenser.”
This contrasts with an audiologist who trained for years at a university to acquire a degree in audiology. This equips them with the knowledge to take a much broader approach to hearing health, including general health factors which can impact on your hearing, manage tinnitus, and teach aural rehabilitation and strategies to cope with severely impaired hearing.
To guide you, the following set of initials after a name indicates they are an audiologist:
- Au.D: This means Doctor of Audiology, and the bearer has a clinical degree in hearing health.
- Ph.D: Doctor of Philosophy. An additional level of qualification.
- Sc.D: Doctor of Science, this usually indicates a science degree in doctoral training.
Choose Your Audiologist
You need to have confidence in the advice given, so take your time to find a professional you can trust. One starting point is to ask around and take recommendations from friends and family. Then take a look at the practice’s website to get more information.
Check out if the website is clear and easy to understand, which hopefully reflects the practice’s attitude. Do they carry testimonials from satisfied patients? Are there helpful articles on hearing health? Are their procedures for billing or insurance clearly explained?
Now pick up the phone or call. Is the reception staff skilled at dealing with people with hearing loss? This can tell you a lot about the attitude of the practice as a whole. Ask how long the appointments are. It’s a good sign if the test isn’t hurried or rushed and you are allocated plenty of time to talk through the results of the hearing test.
Also, ask if the audiologist is happy for you to take a friend or family member along. Most good audiologists will encourage this. They will appreciate getting feedback about your hearing abilities from someone who speaks to you regularly. Plus a good audiologist understands it can be difficult to take in a lot of information in one appointment, and an extra pair of ears can be of great assistance.