Why You Should Choose an Audiologist

10 Questions to Ask Before Buying Hearing Aids

If you’ve experienced changes in your hearing abilities, we hope you that reach out to us at Dr. Kevin J. Whritenour’s office for help right away. There are many benefits to choosing an Audiologist rather than a hearing aid fitter or dispenser. There has been a lot of consumer confusion over professional roles in the treatment of hearing loss.  It is still common today for someone to get screened, tested, or fitted with a hearing aid by someone and still not know what qualifications that person had.

How do you know who you can trust?  An important distinction to understand when treating your hearing loss is the difference between an Audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser.

Education and Experience is Key

A Doctor of Audiology, on average, has spent nine years in school studying their science, whereas a hearing aid dispenser often possesses just a high school education.

An Audiologist is trained to diagnose, treat and monitor disorders of the hearing and balance system. An Audiologist is a degreed professional who is extensively trained in the science of hearing, while a hearing aid dispenser applies for a license after meeting some basic requirements. Dispensers have limited licenses and are not qualified to fit children under 18 without a physician’s approval. They are not trained to make a medical diagnosis of disease or injury.

Doctors of Audiology complete a supervised externship prior to state licensure and national certification. Upon completion of training, Audiologists must also pass a national standardized examination in order to be eligible for state licensure.  Continuing education requirements must be met in order for an Audiologist to maintain state licensure.

Misleading Advertising

We have all seen the frequent hearing aid ads. There are also advertising gimmicks to be aware of. Many of these advertisers are not trained Audiologists and few have actual medical qualifications.

  • The Bait and Switch - An ad is placed with a very low-cost hearing aid: this is the bait. The switch occurs at your appointment when you are told the low-cost aid will not work for your degree of hearing loss, the size of your ears, etc., and then you are pushed to get a more expensive aid.
  • Beware of “Trade-In” Deals - Your in-the-ear hearing aids are custom designed for you. Similar to a pair of dentures, no two are alike. If you are offered a discount off of your new aid, for trading in an old aid, it is likely the price is inflated. Further complications occur if the new aids do not work and you can no longer get your old hearing aids back.
  • Two for One” Scams - This one is very simple. Most often, you are either going to be paying double for low-cost hearing aids or the price of one is doubled to compensate.
  • The Too Good to Be True Discount - Make sure you call around to see if you really are getting the best possible price. If it sounds too good to be true, unfortunately when it comes to hearing aids, it probably is.

Franchise “Audiology Clinics” and Big Box Stores

Franchise hearing aid stores may claim to be “audiology clinics,” but this is incorrect. They may have an Audiologist on staff, but you may never personally encounter this person. The hearing health market is expanding. In response, the number of corporate hearing centers is also increasing.

Why is this important? Because corporate hearing centers (many owned by hearing aid manufacturers) are motivated by the dictates of corporate growth and bottom-line profits, and these profits are achieved through hearing aid sales, not diagnostic or rehabilitative services. Large corporations are purchasing independent practices across the country, often stripping them of important diagnostic capabilities, and staffing their new hearing centers with non-audiology staff, including hearing aid dispensers.

It Doesn’t Cost Any More to See a Doctor

Pricing is very competitive and it will generally not cost you any more to visit a Doctor of Audiology than going to a big-box clinic where you may be bombarded with aggressive sales pitches.

A Doctor of Audiology works under a code of ethics. There are many standards and quality controls in place, so you know you are seeing a Medical Professional who has your best interest at heart.

The Bottom Line

Hearing aid dispensers and audiologists are both licensed to fit and program hearing aids, but that is where the similarities end. There’s a vast difference in education and training requirements between Doctors of Audiology and hearing aid specialists. At Dr. Kevin J. Whritenour’s office, we have over 23 years of experience and have the patience and care to help you find the best hearing aid possible, with no pressure or stress. Make an appointment today!

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