Audiologist versus Hearing Aid Dispenser
If you suspect you have hearing loss and could benefit from hearing aids, then you may have come across two different types of professionals, an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser. But what’s the difference between the two? And why does it matter?
To ensure you get the help and assistance that you need, consider the differences in each professional and how they can best serve you.
What is an audiologist?
An audiologist is primarily a medical doctor whose specialist area is conditions affecting the ear, including both hearing loss and balance issues. Their primary role is to diagnose, treat, and monitor any conditions related to the ear itself – or that might be affecting it indirectly.
Audiologists have to complete both an undergraduate degree and a Masters or Doctorate in audiology. The training to become an audiologist requires at least six to eight years of education.
The total time in training post-secondary school is usually eight years. Audiologists spend four years studying in general medicine to give them the background that they need to treat patients. After that, they stay another four years in graduate school, learning about various intricacies and conditions of the ear. The purpose is to give audiologists a complete background in hearing loss, the type of things that lead to diseases of the ear, and the ability to diagnose and treat conditions.
At the end of the four-year course, audiologists in training must complete an exam. The exam is standardized across the US and qualifies the audiologist to apply for a license allowing them to practice.
The requirements of audiology are high. It’s not a matter of merely completing the course and passing the exam: audiologists have to continue their education to maintain their state licensure. Any audiologist that you see should have kept their knowledge up to date and be able to provide you with the best possible treatment.
What is a hearing aid dispenser?
A hearing aid dispenser is somebody who is licensed to provide audiometric testing for the sole purpose of fitting hearing aids. Just like audiologists, hearing aid dispensers need to pass an exam. Passing the exam grants them a license to fit hearing aids in the state.
The type of examination and qualification that a hearing aid dispenser needs to pass depends on the state. Some states have more rigorous requirements than others.
In general, hearing aid dispensers need to have a high school diploma or two years in post-secondary education. Some states require that budding hearing aid dispensers do distant learning and submit coursework as part of their assessment.
Hearing aid dispensers are not medical doctors. They are, instead, specialists who help you find the right hearing aid for your particular hearing loss. While hearing aid dispensers have a lot of knowledge about hearing aids and the types of features that they offer, they cannot diagnose conditions of the ear. You cannot, for instance, go and visit a hearing aid dispenser if you are having trouble with balance. In that situation, you’d need to go and see your audiologist.
With substantially more training, audiologists are typically the recommended professional when you develop or experience issues with your hearing and balance system. Whether it’s hearing loss, tinnitus or balance problems, an audiologist has the extensive knowledge and training to address these issues head on. Additionally, they have a comprehensive knowledge of hearing aids and compatible technology, making them experts at fittings, cleaning and repairs.
How can you find an audiologist?
Once you have decided you want to see an audiologist, it’s important to know where to find one. You can use the internet, your family and friends or a primary care physician to locate an audiologist. Once you have your candidates narrowed, look at key details of the professional and practice to determine if it’s convenient for your lifestyle. This means considering a location that is close to home or work, as well as one that offers hours conducive to your schedule. You can also visit their website to learn more about the services they offer. If you need hearing aid repairs, make sure you select an audiologist that provides this on-site. Additionally, read any patient reviews you can find to get a better idea about what you can expect during your appointment.
If you’d like to find out more about the services offered by our audiologists, then get in touch with Bowles Hearing Care Services PC today. Call us at 704-334-4428 for Charlotte, 828-322-7025 for Hickory, 704-660-9188 for Mooresville and 704-274-5299 for Huntersville.