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Utah: 435-688-8991 Nevada: 702-896-0031

The Difference Between a Doctor of Audiology and a Hearing Instrument Specialist

Whether you should visit a doctor of audiology or a hearing instrument specialist has a lot to do with your needs. Both professionals are devoted to ensuring you enjoy the best possible hearing, but there are significant differences between the two.

If you’ve already been identified as having hearing loss and simply want to get fitted with hearing aids, a hearing instrument specialist should do the trick. If you suspect you’re experiencing i hearing loss, tinnitus or balance dysfunction but haven’t yet been diagnosed, however, you should seek out a doctor of audiology. A doctor of audiology is qualified to diagnose your condition and, if possible, determine the cause.

At Hearing & Balance Doctors, we staff only doctors of audiology, allowing us for greater therapeutic reach. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between a doctor of audiology and a hearing instrument specialist.

Doctors Of Audiology Have More Education

Audiologists have more training and education than hearing aid specialists, because the minimum requirement for this profession is a master’s degree.

Many audiologists also hold a doctorate in audiology or a PhD in the hearing sciences, which translates to at least 8 years of higher education plus hours of clinical experience before they begin practicing. Coursework to receive a doctorate of audiology i includes, among other subjects:

  • auditory, vestibular and neuroanatomy
  • cochlear implants
  • hearing aids and assistive listening devices
  • medical and surgical treatment of hearing and balance disorders
  • pharmacology
  • remediation and rehabilitation of hearing and vestibular disorders

Hearing Instrument Specialist

Qualifications to become a hearing instrument specialist vary from state-to-state, and in some areas you can become licensed with only a high school degree. More commonly, however, a hearing instrument specialist will hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

While it takes less time to become a hearing instrument specialist—sometimes called a hearing aid dispenser—there are still some significant hurdles. Before becoming licensed by the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences, you have to complete an apprenticeship of one or two years with a licensed hearing professional and to pass a written and practical exam.

Doctors of Audiology Have a Broader Scope of Practice

A doctor of audiology also has a far broader scope of practice than a hearing instrument specialist.

Hearing Instrument Specialist

A hearing instrument specialist is not licensed to complete diagnostic hearing evaluations, tinnitus evaluations or balance assessments. They can, however, perform exams on someone with hearing loss for the purpose of programming hearing aids. A hearing instrument specialist is also expert at fitting patients for hearing aids and related devices, in many cases taking earmolds to create custom-fitted pieces.

A hearing instrument specialist is generally well-versed on all the latest hearing devices. It’s a profession that requires increasing technological savvy, given many hearing aids now carry features like wireless streaming and tinnitus management tools.

Doctor of Audiology

While a hearing instrument specialist is only licensed to treat adults with hearing loss, doctors of audiology can perform auditory processing evaluations for infants and children as well as adult patients.

A doctor of audiology can perform comprehensive evaluations of the entire auditory system, from the outer ear to the brain, with assessments including:

  • Auditory nerve function
  • Hearing sensitivity
  • Inner ear function
  • Middle ear function
  • Speech understanding

Consequently, a doctor of audiology can diagnose a patient with hearing loss, balance or equilibrium issues or with tinnitus or hyperacusis. Many doctors of audiology have also obtained a hearing instrument specialist license so they can dispense hearing aids and related technology. Services a doctor of audiology can perform include:

  • Cerumen removal
  • Counseling for people living with hearing loss or tinnitus
  • Rehabilitation for balance disorders
  • Rehabilitation for hearing and auditory processing disorders
  • Tinnitus and hyperacusis management

There are many fine hearing instrument specialists bringing the gift of sound to people with hearing loss. At Hearing & Balance Doctors, however, we feel staffing doctors of audiology makes for the most thorough and effective treatment of hearing and balance issues.

If you are ready for consummate professionalism and the latest treatments and technology for hearing, balance and tinnitus management, contact us today to make your appointment.

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