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My job explained: Audiologist

My job explained: AudiologistAlison Fry is an audiological scientist from Bournemouth who enjoys ‘making a difference in peoples lives’. Here she shares her experiences of treating everybody from tiny babies to elderly patients.

What is your typical day like?

No day is typical! I work 8.30-5pm and could be doing any of the following: hearing aid repairs, adult hearing assessments, hearing aid fittings or reviews, newborn hearing tests, paediatric hearing assessments, paediatric hearing aid fittings, balance assessments and rehabilitation, audiograms (hearing tests) for ear, nose and throat consultants in hospitals or visiting frail, elderly patients in their own home.

How long have you worked as an audiologist?

Five years

What are the best things about being an audiologist?

Being able to help patients overcome problems associated with their balance, i.e. being more confident when walking outside which can take time to achieve.

The immediate effects of a patient wearing a hearing aid for the first time, especially very old and frail as their eyes light up when they are able to hear again.

What attracted you to audiology?

Initially I was attracted to helping reduce communication barriers related to hearing impairment. But I am now much more interested in the assessment and rehabilitation of balance patients.

What was the reaction of friends and family to your career choice?

Usual jokes, people say ‘pardon’ a lot when I tell them my occupation. They usually find it interesting to hear about my job, especially asking how I test someone’s balance or really tiny babies.

Who supported you the most? How did they do so?

My family and boyfriend, while at university, by buying food for me!

How did you choose which university to go to?

I studied at Bournemouth as it was cheaper to living at home through my studies. I only applied to Southampton to study because the course content had the ideal balance of theory and practical experience. The Institute of Sound & Vibration Research is known internationally for its research.

How did you feel about attending university? Nervous? Excited?

Very nervous.

Were there any challenges to getting into university? How did you overcome them?

I needed to demonstrate good knowledge in the area, my BSC dissertation was based on hearing and effects of night-club music exposure so the professors were interested in that.

What was your university experience like? Any highlights? Challenges?

My MSc was an intensive course and we were expected to work in the department at evenings and weekends so it was not a traditional experience of university life.

The people on the course are ultimately on the same career path so you do keep in touch through attending meetings or secondments.

Did you go on work experience? How was it?

Work experience in two audiology departments gave a good insight into the career and type of work and is essential if you are thinking of becoming an audiologist.

What characteristics do you need to become a good audiologist?

People skills, good communication, patience, empathy, problem-solving abilities, sense of humour, initiative, good time management.

What tips, advice or words of encouragement do you have for anyone considering a career as an audiologist?

Get work experience. Be prepared to continue learning when qualified. Audiology is a good profession if you essentially want to help people and make a difference to people lives.

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