Talking Hearing Loss With Today’s Audiology Students

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A few weeks ago, I spoke to a group of audiology doctoral students at The Graduate Center, CUNY. The purpose was to share the patient’s perspective with them, particularly as it relates to what patients would like to see when visiting their audiologists.

The group of students was intelligent, interested and highly motivated to understand the patient’s point of view. They were surprised to hear about the wide variety of experiences I have had with different audiologists throughout my hearing loss life — some good and some not so good. From our discussions, I could see that they are learning best practices in their classes and had the clear intent to put patient-centered cared into action. This is good news for all of us with hearing loss.

During my talk, I shared my hearing loss story and my best and worst audiologist visits. They were very surprised to learn that only one audiologist ever asked me about my life or what my hearing goals were before recommending a hearing device. They were encouraged that my husband accompanied me to the appointment where I selected my first hearing aid. It was a dynamic discussion, where they showed genuine interest in what the patient was thinking and feeling.

They were full of good questions, some procedural and some personal. I was happy to answer them all. Each question indicated a genuine desire to infuse the patient perspective into their frame of reference. These questions included:

  • Did I prefer to fill out questionnaires ahead of time or during the appointment?
  • Would I do aural rehab work online or did I prefer it to be face to face?
  • Was I open to using other devices in addition to hearing aids?
  • Did I want a family member to accompany me to appointments?
  • How well did I hear in noise? Was that ever tested at any of my appointments?
  • How did I handle dating with hearing loss? Marriage? Kids?

The conversation soon turned to difficult hearing conditions in general — restaurants, movies, theater. They offered their own anecdotes of having trouble hearing at a bar or restaurant. Some of them regularly ask restaurants to turn down the music, but others do not. I was surprised that advocacy was not more pervasive — especially, as I told them — they know better!

I left them with one final thought. As audiologists, they have incredible power to do good in two important ways.

1. Set the patient on the right hearing loss path. An audiologist is typically the first hearing loss professional anyone with hearing loss will see. She has an amazing opportunity and a serious responsibility to set the right tone for each person’s hearing loss journey. Treating the patient with respect, making it about the person and not the device, and setting realistic expectations can go a long way to keeping someone with hearing loss engaged in her treatment and her life.

2. Speak up for noise protections. Audiologists see firsthand the difficulties that come from hearing loss. They know how loud is too loud. I coaxed them to use their authority as audiologists to educate shop owners, schools, restaurant owners, etc., about safe volume levels, both in their local communities and more broadly.

I encouraged them to use their power, knowledge and expertise for good. I think they will.

Readers, do you share the patient’s perspective with your audiologist?

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12 thoughts on “Talking Hearing Loss With Today’s Audiology Students”

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Shari Eberts. Check out my About page for more details.

      1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
        Living With Hearing Loss says:

        I thought she meant the blog.

  1. Jerry Henderson – Pownal Maine – Thank you for coming to my space. This is where I post thoughts, opinions and commentary on a variety of subjects at irregular intervals. I try to do something weekly, but have not nailed down a rigid schedule, like every Wednesday, yet. If you would like email notifications of new posts, you can make that happen right on the site. Simply enter your email address to subscribe. Also, if you would like to comment I welcome that. Just do so in the space at the bottom of any selected post. Sharing thoughts, opinion and commentary is a peculiarly human characteristic. It must be exercised to be enjoyed. Jerry Henderson
    Jerry says:

    Hi Shari – My first response to this post is, “Wow! I’d really love to sit down with those people and tell them a thing or two!!” But then that’s all about me and my spotty experience with audiologists over the years and not the development and training of a new wave of audiologists. Client centered audiology would have made a huge difference in my hearing journey. The opposite of client centered audiology is device centered audiology. It’s not either or, but the person presenting the need has to be primary in the relationship.

    It’s exciting that you had the opportunity to lay that principle out for those students. What a golden opportunity.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Thanks Jerry. I am hoping to talk with more classes in the future. It is a great opportunity to share the patient’s perspective.

      1. Jerry Henderson – Pownal Maine – Thank you for coming to my space. This is where I post thoughts, opinions and commentary on a variety of subjects at irregular intervals. I try to do something weekly, but have not nailed down a rigid schedule, like every Wednesday, yet. If you would like email notifications of new posts, you can make that happen right on the site. Simply enter your email address to subscribe. Also, if you would like to comment I welcome that. Just do so in the space at the bottom of any selected post. Sharing thoughts, opinion and commentary is a peculiarly human characteristic. It must be exercised to be enjoyed. Jerry Henderson
        Jerry says:

        Be sure to keep us informed. I think we’re on the cusp of a client/patient driven age in the hearing loss community. The devices are there. The patient’s unique set of needs and desires are there. Hopefully a new generation of practitioners will be able to creatively being the two together.

      2. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
        Living With Hearing Loss says:

        I think so too. Will keep you up to date. Thanks Jerry!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Excellent. It is so important that the next generation of audiologists understands the patient’s perspective.

  2. Shari,
    This is wonderful on so many levels. Your ability to concisely articulate the patients’ perspective and to so in a way that meets the academic criteria holds great promise. Kudos!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      It was a lot of fun. I am hoping for more opportunities to speak to other audiology students.

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