If you have noticed that your hearing has been out of whack lately, it may be timed to have your ears checked by a health care professional. There is only one who can provide you with the expertise that you need, and those are hearing instrument specialists. They are licensed by the state and are trained specifically to analyze common types of hearing loss in adults.
Some can even give out hearing aids. In some states, hearing instrument specialists are known as hearing aid dispensers, hearing aid dealers or hearing instrument dealers.
These specialists are able to give out and interpret hearing tests like immittance screening, pure tone screening and otoacoustic screening. They can also do air or bone conduction tests and speech audiometry. They can also select, fit, program, dispense and maintain hearing aids.
Hearing instrument specialists are equipped with the tools to take an are impression. They can design, prepare and modify ear molds, repair non-functional or damaged hearing aids and in some states, they can remove earwax buildup. You must look for a hearing instrument specialist that is licensed to do all the services they offer.
There are some benefits to seeing a hearing instrument specialist when you need one as opposed to your primary healthcare provider. If you are someone who has age-related hearing loss or you may have experienced noise-induced mild to severe hearing loss that cannot be fixed medically, opting for a hearing aid may be the option for you. Keep in mind that if you have other special needs, outside of your hearing loss, you may need a licensed audiologist.
Hearing Instrument specialist vs. audiologist
The major difference between a hearing instrument specialist and an audiologist is the education. Hearing instrument specialists are trained specifically to give out hearing evaluations to fit hearing aids. They are also well-versed in hearing aid selection, maintenance, fittings and repairs. Meanwhile, audiologists are trained to perform full diagnostic evaluations. The evaluations are there to make sure that everything is working the way it is supposed to from your outer ear to your brain.
Specific educational requirements
The education requirements vary state by state as every state has its own requirements. Some hearing instrument specialists must have at least a high school diploma and undergo a rigorous training program. In these programs, you will have both classroom and distance learning. Hearing instrument specialists will also get hands-on training while being supervised by a licensed health care professional.
The process of becoming an audiologist is different as well. Your audiologist probably has a doctorate in audiology and became licensed by the state you are local. Audiologists are authorized to work with patients with special needs, infants, children, adults and the elderly once they are licensed.
Licensed hearing instrument specialist
Make sure that you are picking a hearing instrument specialist that is licensed. Once your hearing instrument specialist has completed the training program designed by the state you are local, they have to pass an exam. If they do not pass that exam, they are not licensed to do this.
They would have to take the test, which has both a written and practical section that is judged by a board of examiners. After passing the exam, your hearing instrument specialist should have then applied for a license in the state you are local. The state will do a background check to find out whatever they need to know about the candidate.
You can be sure that your licensed hearing instrument specialist will stay up to date on their required professional license as well as any fast-changing developments in the hearing care industry. To incentivize upkeep of knowledge, your licensed hearing instrument specialist also has to complete a minimum number of continuing education hours on a semi-annual basis.
Board certified hearing instrument specialist
Once your hearing instrument specialist has been practicing for at least two years, they can apply for board certification in hearing instrument sciences. They will be able to take their knowledge to the next level and be recognized as such. For this reason, hearing instrument specialists that are board-certified typically come highly recommended. They have to pass a psychometric exam developed by the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences Exam Committee. They are easily identifiable because they will typically have the initials NBC-HIS after their names.
To learn more about why choosing a hearing instrument specialist is the best option for you, call Hearing Science of The Foothills, Inc. at (818) 698-8056.