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What is an Audiologist?

What is an Audiologist?
Photo: What is an Audiologist?
An audiologist is an Allied Health professional who specialises in hearing problems.

Their duties include performing hearing tests, diagnosing the patient, taking moulds of each ear for hearing aids and fitting the hearing aid onto the patient.  The audiologist will also perform another hearing test when the patient is wearing their new hearing aids, and can programme the volume of the hearing aid through a specialist computer programme until the volume is comfortable for the patient.

An audiologist may specialise in children’s hearing problems, or may focus on helping a wide range of people, including the elderly who suffer from hearing loss.

Hearing problems may be caused by other medical conditions.  Audiologists can refer patients to specialist surgeons, such as an ear, nose and throat surgeon who may need to operate in order to solve the problem.  For example, if there was fluid in the ear, then the patient would be referred to an ear, nose and throat surgeon who may place a grommet in the affected ear in order to drain the fluid and effectively improve the level of hearing in that ear.
Audiologists should be knowledgeable about the latest developments in hearing aids, and be able to recommend the right hearing aid for each patient.  They also conduct follow up consultations, to see how the patient is coping with their new hearing aid.  In some cases, the volume may need to be adjusted, especially in the case of background noises.  If the background noise volume is too high, then the patient will have a harder time hearing someone speak to them.  On the other hand, if the background noise volume is too low, then the patient may not be able to hear the doorbell or the telephone.  An audiologist can change the background noise volume settings through their specialised computer software programme.

So how do you become an audiologist?

You need to complete a Master’s degree in Clinical Audiology at university.  But first, you’ll need to complete a relevant Bachelor degree.  There are no set undergraduate degrees for audiology, but you can study speech and hearing science, psychology, linguistics, biomedical science or behavioural or physical sciences.  Any of these subjects will help you gain the knowledge and understanding you need in order to complete your Master’s degree.

The Master of Clinical Audiology can be undertaken at universities in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland.

The best way to find out what undergraduate course you should choose in order to become an audiologist is to ask the advice of the university that you’re interested in attending.

If you like the idea of helping people regain their hearing, then being an audiologist can be a rewarding career in the health field.  By fitting people with hearing aids, you would be helping them to hear sounds that they hadn’t heard for a long time.  That means they’ll be able to enjoy life once again as they will be able to follow conversations properly and will no longer feel isolated because they can’t hear well.

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