63rd EUHA Congress in Hanover

EUHA 2018

William Demant to bring Philips brand to hearing aid market

Philips and William Demant

Privacy Regulation and Audiology (II)

Privacy regulation in Europe

Privacy Regulation and Audiology (I)

Privacy regulation in Europe

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It's What I Do, It's What I Can: An Interview with Victoria Stone, audiology student at University of Western Ontario

Following her upcoming two-month field placement, Victoria Stone will be ready to take on the world with an M.Cl. Sc. in Audiology from the University of Western Ontario in hand. Tori, as she is known around campus, is a native of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. She did her undergraduate work at Western. And she plans to make her professional mark on her home turf. Fellow native Neil Young, composer of the autobiographical song Born in Ontario, would no doubt be proud. We recently sat down with Tori to talk about her university experience and her vision of the future.

Why did you choose audiology as a career?

With my health promotion background, I was interested in the health sector. I wanted to work directly with people. I worked at the Ivey Center for Health Innovation associated with the University of Western Ontario. I became interested in systematic and product innovations. It became clear that audiology offered a really good chance to integrate technological innovation with people-oriented work in the context of rehabilitation.

How are your studies organized in Canada?

There are five universities that offer master’s degrees – three in English and two in French. They are in Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, Vancouver, and here in London. Western is one of the biggest with 20 students per year. We also have a PhD program. Programs run for two or three years. Some run through the summer, while others go from September to April.

Some have clinics at the university. Others send students to clinics in their communities, or to different cities, hospital-based settings, etc.

To become a registered audiologist, you have to receive a clinical master's degree in Audiology. Some people have studied in the United States. All must be registered with the College.

Why did you choose Western?

I did my undergrad at Western. I worked for Dr. David Purcell at the National Center for Audiology. I had an opportunity to get really integrated into the research. I wanted to stay involved. Plus, it is close to home, in the province where I would eventually like to settle.

The faculty is fabulous. We have great instructors. A lot of the things we study in class are findings of our own professors. That is very interesting. The university is centrally located, so we have lots of guest speakers.

The option to do clinical placements in Toronto attracted me. There are a lot of hospital-based audiology centers there.

Where is your final placement?

I’m going to be at Baycrest Hospital in Toronto, a rehabilitation facility for adults and seniors. My role will be to work with audiologists, who do a lot of rehabilitation, management of compounded medical factors, and house visits. As well as aural rehabilitation: working with individuals or small groups to help people manage their hearing loss.

How does the job market look?

Of our class of 18, about half have already found work. I found an audiology position at the Toronto office of the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS). CHS is a charitable organization that is dedicated to providing audiology services, dispensing hearing aids and assistive devices, advocating for the deaf and hard-of-hearing population, providing American Sign Language support, and educating the public.

The landscape for audiology in Canada is very good. I think the statistics are that six months after graduation, 100% of audiology students are employed in the field. I would expect the rest of our class to obtain full-time work in the next couple of months.

What are the options in the public system?

Some audiology clinics are in hospitals. If a patient seeks care through the public sector, the testing and assessment are covered by the Ontario provincial government. There are also private clinics. If you seek care through them you pay for your test and follow-up care. Whether you go through the government or the private sector to purchase hearing aids, the remainder [over a stipulated threshold] is out-of-pocket. Surgical care for hearing and cochlear implants is covered by the government, but there are strict criteria about who is eligible.

Most hospitals do assessments, rather than prescribe hearing aids. You can get your assessment done at the hospital and choose a private clinic to make the prescription.

How’s the profession organized in Canada?

Audiologists work with a diverse group of health care professions, especially in cases that involve surgery. Some work very closely with ear, nose and throat doctors. Some work in an ear, nose and throat or otolaryngologist clinics.

Audiologists cannot work directly for otolaryngologists. If an audiologist finds something, the audiologist must refer back to the family physician, who will refer to the otolaryngologist.

We work closely with speech language pathologists, especially with children who have hearing loss.

There are auditory verbal therapists. Audiologists and speech language pathologists can pursue this program after their masters. It allows us to work with implant candidates. It is an intensive form of verbal therapy designed to encourage an oral method of communication. We work closely with AVTs, as we call them.

In surgical cases, the team is much broader. There will be: a psychiatrist; a social worker; the team that does the implant; the ear, nose and throat doctor, who does the surgery and medical follow-up; and audiologists who work with cochlear implant teams; or specialized bone-hearing aid teams.

We also work closely with are hearing instrument practitioners. They have a college program that prepares them to work in a private audiology clinic. They do audiology tests and make hearing aid prescriptions for adults.

How can these groups better work together?

The most important thing is to understand each person’s specialty. That helps you appreciate the unique place they hold on the team. If your clinic works with a specific otolaryngologist, it is important to develop a relationship. The most important thing is to develop trust.

How do you see the profession evolving? What challenges are emerging?

With rapidly evolving technology, it is exciting but challenging to stay on top of all the new products. It has been excellent for patients. They have benefited from technology at a reduced cost. Compared to five years ago, for the same amount of money, you get a hearing aid that is much better. That’s really exciting.

One of the biggest changes we see in Canada is audiology clinics in box stores. Costco, a large wholesale retailer, is opening audiology clinics in its retail centers. Costco’s size means it has low overhead. They can offer hearing aids at lower prices than private clinics. Some see box retailers as a threat to smaller, family-owned clinics. However, this change will encourage innovation in service provision, which will ultimately benefit the patient.

How do you think public awareness about hearing impairment can be increased?

I think clinicians have to educate the public - not only about what we do as professionals, but also about hearing loss. One part of our curriculum, developed by the Hearing Foundation of Canada, involves going into fourth grade classrooms to give a multi-media presentations on noise induced hearing loss and preventive mechanisms. It is important to share this information with kids. If it becomes part of their routine, they are more likely to continue as adults.

Considering the number of people who can benefit from assisted listening devices and the number of people who actually seek help, the percentage is pretty low. It’s really important to spread the message. In Canada, you don’t need a referral. You can just walk into a clinic. But you need to reduce the stigma that still exists around hearing loss.

Any final thoughts?

Audiology is the best kept secret in health care for students looking at graduate studies. I would encourage students who are interested in health promotion and technology in a clinical setting to consider audiology. In terms of employment, I would definitely recommend that they check out this profession. It is growing. It is a great time to enter the field.

Bill Hinchberger

Bill Hinchberger (@hinchberger) is a Paris-based freelance writer. His work has appeared in The Lancet, Science, and a trio of medical publications published by the Siemans corporation: Siemans Healthcare, Somatom Sessions and Axiom Innovations. He has also reported for the Medical Education Network Canada.

The term “hearing impaired” removed from New York state’s law books
The term “hearing impaired” removed from New York state’s law books

Awareness

© Marilyn Nieves/ iStock.com

New York State became the third US state to remove the term "hearing impaired" from state law, under legislation signed recently by Governor Andrew Cuomo, reports the Democrat and Chronicle.

Bluetooth communication system commissioned by American military
Bluetooth communication system commissioned by American military

Communication

©Sonitus Technolies

Sonitus Technologies has secured a multi-million-dollar contract with the United States Department of Defense (DOD) for the company’s ‘Molar Mic’, a new personal communication system.

Regulations concerning music venues changing in France
Regulations concerning music venues changing in France

Sound level

©bernardbodo

The French government recently published a decree reinforcing noise and sound regulations for music venues in the country.

Using headphones and hearing aids simultaneously
Using headphones and hearing aids simultaneously

Devices

©AloshBennett

CR Consumer Reports recently ran an article on finding headphones that work well with hearing aids.

The Amplifon Group acquires Conversons centres
The Amplifon Group acquires Conversons centres

Retail

In August this year, the Audio Sons and Amplifon groups signed an agreement to purchase the centres branded under the Conversons name.

63rd EUHA Congress in Hanover
63rd EUHA Congress in Hanover

EUHA2018

The International Congress of Hearing Aid Acousticians 2018 will be held at Deutsche Messe Hanover between 17 and 19 October 2018.

Sivantos Ibérica emerges in Spain following AS Ibérica union
Sivantos Ibérica emerges in Spain following AS Ibérica union

Industry

© Winfried Arz and Miguel Sanchez © Sivantos

The firm AS Ibérica Soluciones Auditivas, based in Las Rozas (Madrid), has joined Grupo Sivantos as a strategic partner and will now continue in the marketplace as Sivantos Ibérica, say sources at the company.

Company Directory

New products

New Sonic Enchant custom styles and essential performance levels New Sonic Enchant custom styles and essential performance levels

© Sonic

Sonic introduces new custom styles and essential performance levels that bring Enchant’s exciting combination of fast performance, innovative features and enhanced functionality to even more users.  [ ... ]

Oticon Opn hearing aid family is expanding to include custom hearing aidsOticon Opn hearing aid family is expanding to include custom hearing aids

© Oticon

Oticon has packed its 360° Open Sound Experience into a new range of discreet custom styles including its smallest hearing aid to date. [ ... ]

Starkey introduces world’s first HealthableStarkey introduces world’s first Healthable

Livio AI is the world’s first Healthable™ hearing aid to utilize integrated sensors and artificial intelligence and the first device to track physical activity and cognitive health as measured by hearing aid use in social situations. [ ... ]