Anxieties about Amplification

I’m an audiology student deeply interested in amplification. Sometimes I wonder if I should be taking night classes in a different field.

I don’t mean to sound too dramatic, but there seem to be a lot of changes on the horizon of audiology that could negatively affect my chosen career path. Over-the-counter hearing aids seem to be inevitable. Personal sound amplification products (P.S.A.P.s) will likely continue to increase in popularity. Numerous established tech companies and innovative start-ups are building “hearables,” which change the way users experience sound in many different ways. Finally, it’s easier than ever to purchase hearing aids online, without ever having to consult a professional. The days of audiologists being the sole provider of products to assist those seeking to change how they hear appear numbered.

So should I send in an application to the local community college? Maybe not just yet.

There are thousands of people in Silicon Valley and across the world with the skills and know-how to engineer, develop, and market complex electronic devices. However, how many of those people have spent years learning the intricacies of human hearing? How many understand the ways hearing is linked to other aspects of health? How many are able to listen and counsel patients through major personal life changes?

Audiologists have traditionally lived in the part of the Venn diagram where “health” and “technology” overlap. Right now it might look like these two circles are rapidly moving apart, but I believe they’ll bounce back.  As an example, Bose, the major consumer audio equipment company, recently posted a career opportunity for a research audiologist. It may not seem the case presently, but I believe that the people and companies who will end up successful after this technology boom will be the ones that place equal values on health and technology. As well, new technologies could create answers to long-unsolved problems such as tinnitus and the difficulty of following speech in noise. The people who develop these technologies will need individuals to help turn their products into real, usable solutions. No profession is better suited to fill these roles than audiologists.

Audiology might look like it’s in a precarious spot right now, but I think the future might be brighter than ever. We as the next generation of audiologists might be in a great position to adapt emerging technologies into a growing toolkit of hearing solutions.

That’s a pretty unique opportunity that I won’t get in night class.

Author: Remington Shandro, M.Sc. Candidate

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