Updated: Friday, 17 Apr 2009, 2:19 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 07 Oct 2008, 4:35 PM EDT
At Kaczmarski Hearing Services (KHS) there are three certified
audiologists on staff.
Because the audiologists at KHS are continually seeing clients who are searching for a new hearing provider that will offer better products and services, we feel it is our responsibility to clear up the confusion regarding the different types of people who fit hearing aids.
There are two types of providers who can sell and dispense hearing aids. An audiologist is one type and a hearing aid dealer is the other. At first glance these providers seem similar. There are, however, major differences between the two providers.
The first difference between an audiologist and hearing aid dealer is the minimum educational requirements. Audiologists are required to have graduated from an accredited audiology program with a Doctorate or Masters degree. They also must successfully complete a 1-year clinical internship under the supervision of a certified audiologist and pass a comprehensive examination. Upon passing the examination, the applicant becomes a certified audiologist and is awarded a certificate of clinical competency by American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Very few educational requirements need to be met before a non-audiologist can call himself a dispenser and sell hearing aids. A hearing aid dealer must be at least 18 years of age and have had graduated from an accredited high school or secondary school. He must serve as a hearing aid salesperson under the direct supervision of a licensed hearing aid dealer for 2 years and pass an examination prescribed by the governing board of their state.
The biggest difference between an audiologist and a hearing aid dealer is in their scopes of practice. Audiologists are certified and trained to manage many areas of hearing health care including:
* Non-medical evaluation and management of hearing and balance disorders.
* Performing and interpreting diagnostic tests of the auditory and balance system.
* Managing universal newborn hearing screening programs.
* Cochlear implant programming mapping.
* Conducting Intraoperative monitoring.
* Providing hearing services in the schools.
* Supervising testing and management of occupational 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 environments because of their extensive scope of practice, including: private practice offices, hospitals, and public and private schools, universities, and rehabilitation centers.
The scope of practice for a hearing aid dealer is very limited; they can only perform the following:
* Rudimentary hearing tests for the purpose of selling hearing aids to adults only.
* Hearing aid fitting and sales.
Hearing aid dealers focus exclusively on sales and they work in private practice offices.
The three audiologists at KHS meet all certification requirements and continue to stay current with the changes in the field through conferences, seminars, and trainings. KHS offers all brands of hearing aids, but specializes in GNResound, Phonak, and Siemens technologies. They feel confident in these manufacturers because of the research they have accomplished with the digital hearing aids. They also feel most competent with these three brands because of the specialized training these manufacturers have provided. By virtue of their graduate education, professional certification, and scope of practice, audiologists are the most qualified professionals to perform hearing tests, refer patients for medical treatment and provide hearing rehabilitation services.