Choosing your hearing healthcare provider is a critical component to proper diagnosis and management of hearing loss. Sometimes it can be confusing when deciding who to trust with your first appointment to have you or your loved one’s hearing tested. We believe that knowledge is power and with so many hearing healthcare options, it’s important to understand the differences so you can make an educated decision that is right for you.
What is an Audiologist?
An Audiologist is a licensed hearing healthcare professional who specializes in the assessment and management of hearing and communication disorders. To be an Audiologist you must either have a Clinical Doctorate of Audiology degree (Au.D.) or a Master’s degree in Audiology. An audiology program includes multiple courses in anatomy and physiology, disorders of the ear, hearing loss treatment and rehabilitation, tinnitus assessment and management, as well as balance evaluation and treatment. An Audiologist is qualified to assess and treat infants, children and adults. In addition to diagnosis and treatments Audiologists also select and fit appropriate amplification for their patients, provide counseling to ensure a successful outcome, and educate and train others so that individuals with hearing impairments can communicate effectively and maximize their quality of life. Currently, the minimum requirement to practice Audiology is the Au.D., and therefore all educational programs entail a total of 8 years of college for any newly graduated Audiologist.
What is the difference between a Hearing Aid Dispenser/Hearing Instrument Specialist and an Audiologist?
One main difference between an Audiologist and a hearing aid specialist is the minimum amount of education and experience required. A hearing instrument specialist is only required to have a high school diploma and pass a licensing exam administered by the state, whereas Audiologists attend a cumulative 6-8 years of college between undergraduate and graduate programs, undergo various supervised internships, and be placed for a year long 4th year externship. A hearing instrument specialist’s scope of practice is limited to basic hearing screenings for the purpose of selling hearing aids. An Audiologist’s scope of practice is much wider, allowing them to medically manage many areas of hearing healthcare including comprehensive audiological evaluations, diagnostic tests for balance and dizziness disorders, tinnitus management, rehabilitation therapy for hearing disorders, pediatric assessments and hearing aid fittings, newborn hearing screenings, auditory processing disorders and vestibular disorders, cerumen (earwax) removal, patient and family counseling, research of new evaluation techniques, and make referrals to other medical professionals and collaborate with other Doctors for a comprehensive approach to helping their patients. Audiologists are also required to maintain cutting edge services through ongoing continuing education and adhere to an ethical guideline.
Why Animas Valley Audiology?
At this time, Dr. Chandace Jeep and Dr. Duvall are the only Doctors of Audiology in Durango, Bayfield and Pagosa who see patients clinically for diagnostic testing and hearing aid fittings for adults. They also specialize in evaluating pediatric populations, fitting pediatric patients with hearing aids, and tinnitus management. Dr. Jeep graduated in 2006 and has been practicing in Durango since 2008. Dr. Duvall graduated in 2014 and has been practicing in Durango since 2016. They both strive to provide personal attention to each patient and their individual hearing healthcare needs. Dr. Jeep, Dr. Duvall and their staff pride themselves on providing a welcoming and professional atmosphere for each patient.