If you had a problem with your teeth, would you go and see an optician? Or perhaps you would seek out the sage advice of a gynecologist if your vision starts to go? It sounds silly, but when it comes to hearing issues, too many of us don’t use the services of a specialist, which is a Doctor of Audiology.
Is it because we don’t know the difference between a Doctor of Audiology and a Hearing Aid Dispenser?
Truthfully, do you know the difference? If you don’t, how are you supposed to choose? Let’s find out, so you can make an informed decision.
Option 1: Hearing Aid Dispenser
Dispensers are trained in audiometric testing, so they are able to conduct simple hearing screenings. They’re also able to fit hearing aids, but this is mostly for the purposes of selling them in-store. There are three requirements when it comes to being a Hearing Aid Dispenser:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a good character
- Pass one written and one practical exam
Sounds OK so far, doesn’t it? Let’s look at option 2.
Option 2: Doctor of Audiology
Doctors of Audiology are trained in the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of both hearing and balance issues. Their training covers a wide range of anatomy and physiology, electrophysiology, psychophysics and accompanying skills such as counseling and sign language.
They need to attain eight years of education after finishing high school: an undergraduate degree, followed by a doctoral degree in audiology, with associated licensing and certification according to the state they work in. When this training is complete, it isn’t yet the end – they must pass one further examination to be eligible for a state license. Doctors of Audiology must continually maintain their education in a series of courses and examinations over their careers.
Their requirements are:
- A Master’s or Doctoral degree in Audiology
- Minimum of 350 hours practical experience
- 12 months’ full-time professional experience
- Pass a national exam
- Demonstrate recent study through two Continuing Education Units
Dr. Heidi J. Sorrells obtained her doctorate degree from Salus University in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Minot State University in Minot, North Dakota. She is a certified Audiologist by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and she holds a Louisiana and a Texas Audiology License. Dr. Sorrells enjoys all aspects of working in a private practice audiology clinic but especially loves the challenges of vestibular (balance) assessment and rehabilitation.