Audiology is about identifying and assessing hearing and balance functions. It has been estimated that around 16% of the population have a significant hearing loss, so audiology really is a prolific department within our health service.
Generally, working in audiology you’ll be recommending and providing appropriate therapeutic rehabilitation and management. You’ll be helping patients of all ages and working in part of a large team.
There are so many different areas of audiology that you can work in, some of which include: paediatrics, adult assessment and rehabilitation, special needs groups, and research and development, as well as teaching. Due to the different levels and vastness of audiologists, it is almost redundant to refer to someone as such – it is really an umbrella term and encompasses a plethora of roles.
Although many may start their career in audiology as a band 2 or 3 new-born screener, the career progression is very apparent, and many do reach consultancy. As a consultant audiologist you would operate referral clinic and may be the only point of contact for the patient. Equally, some audiologists progress from hospital or community settings, to purely focusing on teaching and research within universities.
Here are a few of the different roles within Audiology
New-born Hearing Screener
These professionals identify which new-born babies need hearing assessments. New-born hearing screeners are in charge of gaining consent from the baby’s guardians, the handling of medical equipment, and also the recording of results and forwarding of these to appropriate healthcare staff.
Hearing Aid Audiologist (HAD)
Put very simply, these are fully trained clinicians who assess hearing and also provide aftercare for hearing aids. You can take a specific degree at Aston University, so if that’s of interest – take a look here. A tailored degree is not however the only way to get into hearing aid audiology.
Healthcare Science Practitioner
This is a much senior level of audiologist. They play a clinical and managerial development role. Measuring and compensating for hearing loss, Healthcare Science Practitioners offer the initial therapeutic support and advice, and also diagnose audio-vestibular neurological diseases. They also prescribe appropriate hearing aid equipment and arrange onwards referral for further investigation.
A high level of competency and responsibility is necessary for Clinical Scientists. They are in charge of all none- routine aspects of an audiological service, so a substantial amount of theoretical knowledge and practical skills about hearing, acoustic and balance is required. They are involved throughout the process of counselling and rehabilitating hearing-impaired patients. They develop diagnostic protocols and recommend care management strategies for individual patients.
To be an audiologist you need to be an extremely patient and understanding. You’ll also need great grades. But owing to the vastness of audiology, there are multiple ways in – so perhaps not quite as strict as other positions within health care.
For most routes, English, Maths and Science GCSEs are very important. You’ll also need to have at least one science A-Level, and then progress to an approved degree in healthcare science – where you specialise in audiology. This degree will take 3 years. It’s also very common to take a science degree, which will also be 3 years, and then apply for the NHS training programme. This is an extremely competitive scheme – and will of course take longer than the previous option.
If a degree isn’t for you, you will be able to become a lower band audiologist, such as a New-born Hearing Screener, by progressing through a training scheme. So, make sure to check out all of the options if this is something that could appeal to you. Great places to start your research are through NHS Apprenticeships, Health Careers, National Careers Service and the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists (BSHAA)