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At Kaczmarski Hearing Services (KHS) there are three certifiedaudiologists on staff.
Because the audiologists at KHS are continually seeingclients who are searching for a new hearing provider that willoffer better products and services, we feel it is ourresponsibility to clear up the confusion regarding the differenttypes of people who fit hearing aids.
There are two types of providers who can sell and dispensehearing aids. An audiologist is one type and a hearing aid dealeris the other. At first glance these providers seem similar. Thereare, however, major differences between the two providers.
The first difference between an audiologist and hearing aiddealer is the minimum educational requirements. Audiologists arerequired to have graduated from an accredited audiology programwith a Doctorate or Masters degree. They also must successfullycomplete a 1-year clinical internship under the supervision of acertified audiologist and pass a comprehensive examination. Uponpassing the examination, the applicant becomes a certifiedaudiologist and is awarded a certificate of clinical competency byAmerican Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Very few educational requirements need to be met before anon-audiologist can call himself a dispenser and sell hearing aids.A hearing aid dealer must be at least 18 years of age and have hadgraduated from an accredited high school or secondary school. Hemust serve as a hearing aid salesperson under the directsupervision of a licensed hearing aid dealer for 2 years and passan examination prescribed by the governing board of their state.
The biggest difference between an audiologist and a hearingaid dealer is in their scopes of practice. Audiologists arecertified and trained to manage many areas of hearing health careincluding:
* Non-medical evaluation and management ofhearing and balance disorders.
* Performing and interpreting diagnostictests of the auditory and balance system.
* Managing universal newborn hearingscreening programs.
* Cochlear implant programming mapping.
* Conducting Intraoperative monitoring.
* Providing hearing services in theschools.
* Supervising testing and management ofoccupational hearing conservation programs.
* Interpreting diagnostic test procedures
* Cerumen (earwax) management.
* Evaluation and management of tinnitus(ringing in the ears).
Audiologists can work in a variety of different environmentsbecause of their extensive scope of practice, including: privatepractice offices, hospitals, and public and private schools,universities, and rehabilitation centers.
The scope of practice for a hearing aid dealer is verylimited; they can only perform the following:
* Rudimentary hearing tests for thepurpose of selling hearing aids to adults only.
* Hearing aid fitting and sales.
Hearing aid dealers focus exclusively on sales and they workin private practice offices.
The three audiologists at KHS meet all certificationrequirements and continue to stay current with the changes in thefield through conferences, seminars, and trainings. KHS offers allbrands of hearing aids, but specializes in GNResound, Phonak, andSiemens technologies. They feel confident in these manufacturersbecause of the research they have accomplished with the digitalhearing aids. They also feel most competent with these three brandsbecause of the specialized training these manufacturers haveprovided. By virtue of their graduate education, professionalcertification, and scope of practice, audiologists are the mostqualified professionals to perform hearing tests, refer patientsfor medical treatment and provide hearing rehabilitation services.
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