Here’s my story
I was a speech and language pathology major at Northwestern University in Evanston IL . I chose this field because I love people and I love talking to people and to help them communicate better. To gain experience, I volunteered my time during college at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC). The audiologist there had double degrees in both audiology and speech/language pathology. She told me that I didn’t want to be a speech pathologist, I was meant to be an audiologist. Consequently, I volunteered in the audiology department helping get the patients in the sound booth, giving them instructions and making them feel comfortable. The patients at RIC were all brain or spinal cord injured, so placing them at ease and ensuring they knew what to do was not always as simple as it sounds. I finished my major in speech and language pathology but took as many courses as I could in audiology during my undergraduate education.
I fell in love with audiology because it was like speech/language pathology in that you could help people communicate. But, even better, the patient’s success was more in my control as I was able to prescribe and fit hearing aids. I was able to use my knowledge to fit a product which could provide immediate relief. In speech and language pathology, the improvement is gradual and drawn out over a long time span. I so much enjoyed assessing the patient, and prescribing the most appropriate technologically advanced hearing aids I could. The patients could be helped now! (hence, Hear Now) The mix of technology, people and communication makes this the most fun job in the whole world. Similar, but better than speech and language pathology, I have a relationship with my patients for their life time and we have great camaraderie. Who wouldn’t like seeing all their friends a couple of times a year? That’s why I have the best job in the whole world.
I did my master’s thesis in children’s speech perception at the University of Washington in Seattle. This fits perfectly with hearing aid fitting because we fit hearing aids to have people hear speech better. It is fundamental to know how we perceive speech, so that we can help this process. In 1978, I was a graduate assistant teaching monkeys how to discrimination speech sounds. It was a desirous job, but I am mostly a cat and dog person, so monkeys were a bit of a stretch for me. I can tell you that if a monkey can discriminate speech (and they can) surely we can get people to do this too!!
Audiology has changed over the years and a doctorate degree is now the entry level degree. I obtained my clinical doctorate in audiology in 2006. This was a great experience to refresh myself with the vigor of academic discipline while still maintaining my practice. I wrote the Basic Auditory Training Program designed to help the brain interpret sound. It is my lifelong job to keep on top of the latest advances in both research and products so that I can best help my patients. So, while my formal schooling is now done, it continues to be exciting to maintain the best in quality patient care and service. Come see me. I’d love to be of service to you.