Qualifications for Audiologists as Partners
Dr. Miller and a number of his colleagues have taught courses at AAO–HNS meetings, which are a good place for otolaryngologists to learn more about interpreting, ordering, and judging the quality of their audiologic resources. As for what to look for in an audiologist, Dr. Miller recommends that otolaryngologists select someone who holds an earned (as opposed to an honorary) doctorate degree from a university accredited by the American Speech-Language–Hearing Association (ASHA) or someone who is a member of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) and holds certification from the American Board of Audiology (ABA), or both.
Explore This IssueSeptember 2007
The emerging audiology clinical practitioner’s degree is the AuD and differs from the classic PhD degree, awarded to those who plan to become researchers and teachers. Another criterion to look for in an audiologist is a broad scope of experience. And when the audiologist is managing the patient with sensorineural hearing loss (SHL), meticulous and competent device fitting increasingly depends on computer expertise.
Dr. Miller suggests giving a prospective candidate a trial of several days in the practice to see how he or she relates to patients, manages the equipment, and interprets the results. It is also wise to request letters of recommendation from professors with whom the candidate has studied. Someone right out of school could work with sufficient in-practice training as long as a supervising audiologist is easily accessible.
The key to providing successful audiologic rehabilitation for the patient with SHL involves a good and long-term relationship with an audiologist, said Dr. Miller. “The new era is one in which the audiologist and patient establish a long-term relationship so that issues such as changes in hearing and difficulty with hearing aids can be addressed and include hearing aid reprogramming to allow the patient to function efficiently in different listening conditions that are important in the everyday life of the patient,” he said. “The audiologist must be available. It’s no longer just about evaluation. You want someone who is humane and patient and knowledgeable, and establishes great long-term relationships with patients.”
As technologies drive and evolve the otolaryngology and audiology specialties, the greatest collaboration in the future will involve training. “Some of these new interventions call for very novel strategies,” said Dr. Niparko, “again, related to both medical/surgical and audiologic intervention. This will guide our continuing education in the future.”
American Academy of Audiology (AAA): www.audiology.org