Are you looking for the best audiologist in Kent, Surrey or even the entire world? If so, then you should consider reading this article to see if you’re asking the right questions.
My personal opinion is there is no such thing as ‘the best audiologist’. This is because every audiologist has their areas of strength. Some will certainly have more experience or education than others but does that mean they are better at communicating their knowledge to you after performing your hearing assessment? As well as education and experience, a steady hand comes in handy when performing invasive procedures such as ear wax removal or managing the Phonak Lyric hearing aid.
To help you chose the best audiologist, we have put together the following guide. You should consider the four E’s: Experience, Education, Expertise, and Endearment.
Experience is the application of knowledge from past events to influence future decisions. Often this means improving outcomes alongside a higher degree of accuracy in performing their duties. But with time comes personal bias. Humans seek comfort and routine and audiologists are no different. As we become more experienced it is easy to become complacent or over confident in our abilities to help you. An audiologist fresh out of university, on the other hand, may be more open minded in their approach with less personal bias towards your care. You may even end up with a better outcome.
Overall though, I do feel a certain level of experience helps towards delivering optimal care.
What could you ask?
- How long have you been qualified?
- Have you been to any events recently? This will demonstrate their commitment to continuous professional development.
Formal education is essential to become an audiologist. It provides us with the critical knowledge to undertake our role effectively and to ensure your safety whilst under our care. Generally the more time we spend training the more knowledge we should acquire. This should help us to do a better job. At present there are four levels of qualification:
- Foundation Degree (2 years)
- Bachelors Degree (minimum 3 years)
- Masters Degree (2 years)
- Doctor of Audiology (4 years)
You may think that a higher qualification is better but it isn’t as simple as this. You can apply for the masters degree at a postgraduate level with any science background. So if you’ve done a psychology degree you can get straight on to the masters and in 2 years you’ve come out with a higher degree than the bachelors who trained for at least 3 years (mine was 4 years as it included a 1 year clinical placement). That being said, if your audiologist has a masters degree they can go on to train to be a clinical scientist which gives them a deep understanding of a number of specialist areas.
So when picking your audiologist, certainly take in to consideration their formal training but it isn’t the be all and end all. Some of the highest trained audiologists in the world lack the people skills to actively listen and communicate with their clients. As a result, they can’t apply their knowledge in the real world. On the other hand, with less training they won’t have the tools in the box to come up with an appropriate solution for you.
What could you ask?
- What training have you done to be an audiologist? This is a nice open ended questions and will allow them to talk about informal as well as formal training.
- How has your training helped you in dealing with clients? This demonstrates their ability to apply their knowledge.
Expertise is about building up knowledge in a specialist area. Areas of interest for audiologists include:
- Adult rehabilitation
- Ear Wax Removal
- Cochlear implants
- Dizziness and balance
- Hearing therapy
- Tinnitus support
Over time your audiologist is likely to specialise in one or more of these areas. You should consider their expertise in relation to the difficulties you are facing. Your care should be as personable as possible and that includes finding a clinician that understands and has the capabilities to deal with your requirements. This becomes critical if you have complex needs.
What should I ask?
What is your area of expertise? Allow them to talk freely about their interests. I’m sure you will struggle to get them to stop if they have a passion for a certain area.
What made you choose this area? This helps you to understand their motives which will help you to form your judgment of your audiologist.
Endearment may not seem important but your relationship with your audiologist is usually long term. To improve your chance of having a good relationship with your audiologist you should follow your gut when choosing the right one for you. If you can sit and have a nice chat it actually helps your audiologist. The more they know about you the more they can help you. If you find your audiologist likeable chances are they are making you feel important, validated and respected. This is all achieved through active listening and is a skill that is learnt through practice and experience.
What should I ask?
Ask yourself: How did they make me feel? Do I feel I can trust them? These are two important questions to determine if you feel comfortable with your audiologist.
After reading this perhaps you can now reconsider the question you first asked. Instead of asking ‘who is the best audiologist?’ perhaps ask yourself, ‘who is the best audiologist for me?’. This important differentiation takes in to consideration your own unique requirements and will help you on your path to better hearing. That being said, the team at Sevenoaks Hearing strive to be the best in the world so come along for your first appointment and see how we live up to delivering on the four E’s.
About Sevenoaks Hearing
At Sevenoaks Hearing, we provide a bespoke hearing service, using state-of-the-art technology to provide an accurate diagnosis and an effective solution. As we are independent of any manufacturer, we can also provide the best solution for your lifestyle. Find out about our hearing assessments and other treatment services.
Written by Adam Chell, Lead Audiologist at Sevenoaks Hearing. Visit our independent hearing centres in Sevenoaks, Banstead and East Grinstead or book an appointment now.