If you or someone you love is struggling with hearing loss, you might have been tempted to order a hearing device online or stop by a walk-in clinic. Your choices for care are wide and should be very carefully considered. Like any major health concern, your priority should be finding quality care by an educated and experienced professional. With so many options, where should your search begin?
There is often confusion over the professional roles and level of expertise when diagnosing hearing loss. It can be difficult to navigate the endless options and find someone who you can trust with your hearing health. A key distinction to make in your search for the right professional is the difference between an Audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser.
Hearing aid dispensers are licensed to perform audiometric testing. This testing is used to determine hearing loss for the purpose of selling, fitting, and maintaining hearing aids. The requirements for hearing aid dispensers vary from state to state. Many states require merely a high school diploma, while other states require two years of college in any field. Arizona has a minimal standard of a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED). Hearing aid dispensers must pass a state-specific written test and practical exam after they have received basic training.
An Audiologist is degreed professional with either a Master’s or Doctoral degree in Audiology, the science of hearing. They are healthcare professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing losses and balance disorders. As part of their advanced degree, they are trained in anatomy and physiology, amplification devices, auditory rehabilitation and much more. In addition to approximately 8 years of post-secondary education, Doctors of Audiology must pass a standardized national examination in order to be eligible for a license in their state of residence. Additionally, Arizona requires candidates to pass an exam in jurisprudence and ethics. They are also required to complete continuing education courses to maintain licensure.
Additional Benefits of an Audiologist
Not only are the minimum education and licensing standards significantly higher for Audiologists, but there are additional benefits that should be considered. The advanced training allows audiologists to engage in a larger spectrum of professional practices. This helps the audiologist to make an accurate diagnosis, develop an appropriate treatment plan, and ensure a positive outcome from the hearing aid.
Now that you are well informed of the key differences between Audiologists and hearing aid dispensers, review these important questions to ask before your hearing exam.
Be certain that you are trusting your hearing health to a true professional with the experience, training, and education that you deserve.