Have you ever wondered what exactly an audiologist does, besides look inside your ears with a lighted instrument? If you have been diagnosed with hearing loss, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about this professional who will be intimately involved in helping you come up with a solution that allows you to communicate more effectively.
What Credentials Do Audiologists Have?
An audiologist is a professional who specializes in the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of hearing and balance disorders. Most have earned an Au.D. (Doctor of Audiology) while others have received a master’s degree from an accredited university, where they received extensive training in the prevention, identification, assessment and treatment of hearing and balance disorders.
They have to complete an internship, pass a national competency examination and obtain professional certification and licensure in the state(s) where they practice. Those who strive for excellence also become board certified.
Who Do Audiologists Work With?
Audiologists work with patients of all ages, treating infants, children and adults for a variety of hearing and balance problems. They work in diverse settings like hospitals, schools, clinics, universities, private practices, VA hospitals, hearing aid dispensaries and otolaryngology (ENT) offices. Audiologists are responsible for services such as:
- Fitting and dispensing hearing aids
- Administering hearing and balance tests
- Assessing candidacy for and programming implantable hearing devices (e.g., cochlear implants, bone anchored hearing aids, etc.)
- Counseling patients and their families on communication strategies
- Designing and implementing hearing conservation programs and newborn hearing screenings
- Providing aural rehabilitation programs
- Performing ear-related surgical monitoring
The Difference Between an Audiologist (Au.D.) and a Hearing Instrument Specialist (HIS)
An audiologist is a licensed and certified professional who has earned a master’s degree (M.S.) or doctorate degree (Au.D./Ph.D.) in the field of audiology. Certified both nationally and at the state level, audiologists are licensed to practice by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and are trained to diagnose and treat disorders of hearing and balance. They can perform comprehensive hearing evaluations, fit hearing devices, recommend assistive listening devices (ALDs) and counsel patients and their families in communication and listening strategies.
By contrast, a hearing instrument specialist is required to have only completed high school or, in some states, possess a two-year degree. In addition, they must pass a written and practical exam to become licensed by the state in which they practice. Hearing instrument specialists may also pass a national exam and become board certified through the National Hearing Instrument Society. They are trained solely in the interpretation of hearing assessment instrumentation, hearing device electronics specifications and programming hearing aids.
All in all, audiologists are the most qualified individuals to help you manage your hearing loss or balance disorder, and they provide an unparalleled breadth of care.
Call Central Florida Hearing Services at (863) 386-9111 for more information or to schedule an appointment.