What’s the Difference between Hearing Care Professionals?

You may have noticed a hearing change in yourself or a loved one. That means you lived a full life of many experiences and sounds, and it is not a bad thing. It is normal. Hearing change starts affecting people in their 40s. It is not about getting old. It is about having lived a full life, living life out loud, and not compromising on your enjoyment and celebration of sound over the years. It is a matter of perspective.

There are five levels of hearing health care providers.

The Medical Field

EAR Doctor - An Otologist specializes only in the medical field of ears with specialized training in surgery and medical treatments.

EAR (nose and throat) Doctor: An Otolaryngologist is also referred to as an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT) – is a medical surgeon. Otolayrngologists diagnose and medically treat diseases of the ear, nose, and throat. They typically earn a four-year undergraduate university degree followed by an additional four-year medical degree with a four-to-five year specialized residency program.

ENTs and Otologists are registered under the College of Physicians and Surgeons. ENTs require that you be referred by your family doctor.

The Hearing Care Field

HEARING Doctor: A Doctor of Audiology is a Registered Audiologist with an additional Clinical Doctorate degree in hearing science. This is a non-surgical Doctorate designation in the field of hearing care. The other doctorate degree in Audiology is the PhD. The Doctor of Audiology suffix is Au.D. not to be confused by R-AUD, which simply means that they are registered Audiologists with the governing or regulatory bodies as well.

Clinical Audiologist

The Audiologist (R-AUD) is a healthcare professional who is university trained and has generally earned a Master’s degree of education or equivalency that specializes in hearing-related communication disorders, physiology of speech and hearing, hearing loss, hearing conservation, hearing aids, assistive listening devices, aural rehabilitation, and treatment of hearing loss for all ages. They typically earn a four-year undergraduate university degree followed by an additional two or three year Master’s (graduate) degree.

Registered Hearing Instrument Practitioner

The Practitioner also known as Hearing Instrument Specialist (R-HIP) is a hearing healthcare professional who typically earns a two year community college diploma in hearing testing, hearing aids and assistive listening devices. HIPs are generally restricted to serving adults.

A Technician has taken either College-level or certification in a limited scope of practice related to the work of a Practitioner, Audiologist, or Doctor of Audiology.

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