Peter Ferguson: Irish Audiologist of the Year for the third time!

AOTY 2016

Peter Ferguson Audiologist of the Year Ireland 2016

For the third time in four years, Peter Ferguson of Ferguson’s Hearing Aid Clinic in Limerick has won the coveted title of Audiologist of the Year for Ireland. Congratulations Peter!

Peter Ferguson is, “absolutely delighted and surprised that once again patients took the time and trouble to nominate me.” The nomination by Mary Fitzgerald swung the judge’s decision, which sees Peter receiving the Audiologist of the Year title in Ireland for a third time. This award is more than just a personal award for Peter. Asked how his colleagues in their Limerick practice feel about him winning again, Peter said, “They are more than delighted and feel it is a further tremendous recognition of the practice.”

The Audiologist of the Year competition, run by Rayovac in partnership with Audio Infos and the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturer’s Association (EHIMA), celebrates the very best in the hearing care profession by inviting patients from 10 countries across Europe to share their success stories, explaining how their audiologist has made a difference in their lives. This year Mary Fitzgerald felt compelled to nominate her hearing care professional, Peter Ferguson. Mary has been deaf since birth and her hearing has become progressively worse over the years, making life extremely difficult for her.

As part of her nomination Mary said, “Peter never gave up on me. In 2013 I was accepted for a cochlear implant. Prior to being accepted I was tested by a scientist from the USA who had to check my hearing aids to make sure they were giving me the best possible hearing. The tests revealed that my aids were already some of the best and no further improvements could be made for me.

“On my journey I met several people on the cochlear implant list, but were turned away because their hearing aids were not good enough at all. This would never happen with Peter, he would make sure you were achieving the maximum hearing. It is with great confidence that I still have to attend Peter for a hearing aid in my other ear.”

A lifetime of support

Audio Infos asked Peter about Mary’s time with him and the team in Limerick. He explained, “Mary first attended our practice as a very young woman in 1985 and we have worked together and in conjunction with her ENT consultants since then to ensure that she is hearing as well as she possibly can within the limits of her hearing loss which is severe to profound precipitous and sensorineural in nature. She has been fitted with several pairs of hearing aids over the years and each change was difficult for her to adjust to and she attended many times for multiple fine tuning and rehabilitation appointments. Both she and I always persevered despite her many and often significant difficulties and considering the level of her hearing loss she managed to live a normal life with good speech understanding.

“Her hearing further deteriorated after 2011 and we discussed the option of a cochlear implant which she very successfully underwent in her right ear in 2014. She continues to wear a Phonak Naida V UP hearing aid in her left ear and she finds the combination with her Cochlear CI works very well for her. She says that the hearing aid balances out the less natural sound of the cochlear implant and allows her to continue to live a busy and fulfilling life.”

As Ireland Audiologist of the Year, Peter now goes forward to be considered for European Audiologist of the Year. He will compete with audiologists from the UK, Sweden, France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark and Switzerland for the ultimate title.

A family tradition

Audio Infos asked Peter how he got into the audiology profession more than 40 years ago. He explained, “My father started the practice within our family pharmacy business in 1967 having studied Audiology in Manchester University. I qualified as a pharmacist in UCD initially and directly afterwards undertook the joint BSA /BSHAA course at the Royal National Ear Nose and Throat Hospital, Grays Inn Road. I have continued to up-skill over the years including completing courses in Anglia Ruskin and Aston University. I practised both professions for some time but decided to specialise in hearing aid audiology in the mid 1990’s. In conjunction with Margaret my wife and Cian our son-in-law both hearing aid audiologists and Margaret Kennedy our administrator, we tailor and individualise our services for those who are hard of hearing providing a consistent outstanding patient experience in conjunction with optimal clinical services.”

During these years Peter has also devoted time to interests outside of the family practice that have helped many others. “I am a founding member of the Mid West School for Hearing Impaired Children in Limerick – the only specialist deaf school outside of Dublin and our family continue involvement with the school. I was also a founder member of the Irish Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists (ISHAA) and held various roles within the organisation over many, many years. I remain an active member of ISHAA.”

A helpful, cheerful, professional face

Although there is never a typical day in any busy hearing aid practice, Audio Infos asked Peter what a day may look like in the Limerick clinic. He said, “We work as a team in the practice and without that team commitment we would not be looking after those who come to us as well as we do on a daily basis. We see patients at scheduled times but give each one always the time he or she needs. We have emergency time built into our day which caters for overruns in appointment times or for anybody who needs to be seen urgently.

“We encourage patients to attend for servicing regularly so there is a constant flow of people visiting throughout the day and also we look after those who contact us over the phone, through our website or via email. Our reception area is warm, comfortable and inviting and our receptionist Margaret who has been with us for many years is the helpful, cheerful and professional face of our practice. “We also put time aside to do ongoing training and upskilling as you cannot look after people properly and ensure he/she achieve the best outcomes possible without thoroughly understanding the various technologies available. It is widely recognised now within the profession that the hearing aid audiologist is more critical to the fitting than the technology. We use evidence based systems as standard including Real Ear Measurement, Impedance Measurements, Speech in Quiet audiometry and Speech in Noise tests.”

Speaking about the 2016 awards, Paula Brinson-Pyke, Marketing Director at Rayovac, said, “We’re delighted to announce Peter as the Irish winner. Nine years into the competition and still, every year, we’re overwhelmed by the heart-warming entries we receive. The entries show that this really is more than just a job; the level of dedication and care demonstrated by the nominee is phenomenal. Audiologist of the Year is an award we’re very proud to have founded and continue to back alongside our partners EHIMA and Audio Infos.”

The overall winner from the ten country winners will be announced as European Audiologist of the Year at the Rayovac Evening of Excellence in Hanover during the EUHA congress in late October. Good luck Peter!

Victoria Adshead, Audio Infos UK