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A clinical audiologist works to find the causes of hearing loss and develops a treatment plan for patients. During the course of an evaluation, the clinical audiologist will perform diagnostic tests and interviews with the patient to determine the source of the hearing loss. They are also tasked with prescribing hearing aids and fitting cochlear implants.
Hearing loss can occur from exposure to loud noise, chronic ear infections and viral infections. Genetic disorders or birth trauma can also be causes. Some medications can affect hearing in patients. A clinical audiologist determines which factor caused the hearing loss or problem. He or she may also work with patients to teach them ways to cope with the loss, prevent future degeneration of hearing, and teach proper usage of hearing aids.
Audiologists work in clinical settings and often must operate medical devices such as audiometers that measure what sounds a patient hears. They must also keep accurate records of their patients. In these records, they must keep notes of patient evaluations and track treatments as well as their effectiveness. They must adjust the treatment plan to have the most positive effect and work with insurance companies to secure needed equipment for patients.
Doctors and nurses may work with clinical audiologists to help identify and prevent hearing loss. A clinical audiologist can administer specialized tests that help a doctor diagnose certain diseases and disorders. He or she can also adjust hearing aids and other devices so that patients can continue to live full, productive lives.
In the clinical field, audiologists will work with a wide range of patients. They may work with children who have experienced hearing loss since birth. The majority of the time, however, is spent working with older patients who have lost their hearing as a result of age. This group of patients can be challenging because hearing loss tends to decline further with age, despite hearing aids and rehabilitation.
It is also possible for a clinical audiologist to work in the research field. In this capacity, audiologists work on new technologies and treatment studies as well as teach others entering the field. This path offers little direct contact with patients.
Most audiologists have a master’s degree and have passed the national exam required to practice in the field. Some places of employment may require clinical experience, an up-to-date license, and a test in order to distribute hearing aids. Ongoing education is required in this field to remain licensed and abreast of the latest technology.