Audiologist - Nature of Work
Audiologists work with people who have hearing, balance, and related ear problems. They examine individuals of all ages and identify those with the symptoms of hearing loss and other auditory, balance, and related neural problems. They then assess the nature and extent of the problems and help the individuals manage them. Using audiometers, computers, and other testing devices, they measure the loudness at which a person begins to hear sounds, the ability to distinguish between sounds, and the impact of hearing loss or balance problems on an individual’s daily life. Audiologists interpret these results and may coordinate them with medical, educational, and psychological information to make a diagnosis and determine a course of treatment.
Hearing disorders can result from a variety of causes including trauma at birth, viral infections, genetic disorders, exposure to loud noise, certain medications, or aging. Treatment may include examining and cleaning the ear canal, fitting and dispensing hearing aids, fitting and tuning cochlear implants, and audiologic rehabilitation. Audiologic rehabilitation emphasizes counseling on adjusting to hearing loss, training on the use of hearing instruments, and teaching communication strategies for use in a variety of listening environments. For example, they may provide instruction in lip reading. Audiologists also may recommend, fit, and dispense personal or large area amplification systems and alerting devices.
Audiologists provide direct clinical services to individuals with hearing or balance disorders. In audiology (hearing) clinics, they may independently develop and carry out treatment programs. Audiologists, in a variety of settings, work with other health professionals as a team in planning and implementing services for children and adults, from birth to old age. Audiologists keep records on the initial evaluation, progress, and discharge of clients. These records help pinpoint problems, track client progress, and justify the cost of treatment when applying for reimbursement.
Some audiologists specialize in work with the elderly, children, or hearing-impaired individuals who need special therapy programs. Others develop and implement ways to protect workers’ ear from on-the-job injuries. They measure noise levels in workplaces and conduct hearing protection programs in factories, as well as in schools and communities.
Audiologists who work in private practice also manage the business aspects of running an office, such as developing a patient base, hiring employees, keeping records, and ordering equipment and supplies.
Audiologists may conduct research on types of—and treatment for—hearing, balance, and related disorders. Others design and develop equipment or techniques for diagnosing and treating these disorders.