What is an Audiologist?
An audiologist is a person who has a Masters or a Doctoral degree in Audiology.
Audiology is the science of hearing. In addition, the audiologist must be licensed or registered by their state to practice audiology.
An audiologist is a healthcare professional specializing in identifying, diagnosing, treating and monitoring disorders of the auditory and vestibular system portions of the ear. Audiologists are trained to diagnose, manage and/or treat hearing or balance problems. They dispense hearing aids. They counsel families about the hearing loss in infants, and help teach coping and compensation skills to late-deafened adults.
In the past, the Master’s degree in field of Audiology was the accepted clinical practice. However, the profession has undergone a transition to a doctorate level degree as the entry-level requirement to practice audiology. In a few years, there will be very few colleges and universities offering a master’s program in audiology. The Au.D. (Doctor of Audiology) is the clinical doctorate degree and is issued exclusively by regionally accredited universities and colleges. There are other doctoral degrees that have been earned and utilized by audiologists to date, including a Ph.D. (still highly sought today by researchers and academicians), the Sc.D. and the Ed.D.
Audiologists work in a variety of settings including hospitals, schools, clinics, universities, rehabilitation facilities, cochlear implant centers, speech and hearing centers, private audiology practices, hearing aid dispensing offices, hearing aid manufacturing facilities, medical centers, as well as otolaryngology (ENT physician) offices. Although the vast majority of hearing problems do not require medical or surgical intervention, audiologists are clinically and academically trained to determine those that do need medical referral. As a licensed healthcare provider, the audiologist appropriately refers patients to physicians when the history, the physical presentation, or the results of the audiometric evaluation
(AE) indicate the possibility of a medical or surgical problem.
Many audiologists also dispense (sell and service) hearing aids and related assistive listening devices for the telephone, TV and special listening situations.
Roger McGargill Ph.D. earned his Doctorate in Audiology from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He has been in Audiology for 33 years. He is board certified by the American Speech and Hearing Association and a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology.