Name: Erica Wong
Born: Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario
Until problems arise with our hearing, we often take this critical sense for granted. Audiologists are experts on hearing difficulties.
What is an Audiologist?
Audiologists are concerned with the prevention,identification, assessment, treatment and (re)habilitation of hearing difficulties. We provide services to all age groups, from birth to 100+ year old. Audiologists also provide education and counseling services for people experiencing hearing difficulties and vestibular problems, such as dizziness and tinnitus.
Audiologists can work in a variety of settings. Probably the majority of audiologists work in clinical settings (hospitals/rehab facilities, doctor’s offices, private clinics). Some work for hearing aid manufacturers as sales representatives, technical support, or training. Still others do research or work as consultants for the school board, Worker’s Compensation, or manufacturing plants.
What is a typical day as an Audiologist like?
It depends on where you work. My days at the hospital vary, but it almost inevitably involves both diagnostic and treatment work. I might do some basic hearing tests (testing the lowest level a person can hear sounds at different pitches and for speech) on adults or kids, some advanced diagnostic testing (measuring the brain’s response to sound stimuli), counsel patients on managing hearing loss and recommend treatment options, fit a few hearing aids, and troubleshoot a few hearing aid problems.
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Vanilla. French vanilla would be even better! In a waffle cone. Yum.
Did you always want to be an Audiologist?
Actually, I didn’t even know what an audiologist was until I was in third year of undergrad.
What courses in high school prepared you for this field?
Physics, biology, math
Where did you go to university?
University of Western Ontario (B.Sc. and M.Sc.)
What’s your favorite holiday?
Christmas, because people are usually in a good mood (unless they’re miserable from hours of shopping for that “perfect gift” at the jam-packed mall)…and it’s a chance for family and friends to get together and hang out and pig out.
How did you decide where to go?
There are only 5 schools in Canada that have Audiology programs (UBC, Western, Ottawa, U. de Montreal, and Dalhousie), 2 of which are French programs. Western is the closest to home, and has the largest of the English programs.
You just won a million dollars. What’s the first thing you’d do?
Travel the world.
What do you think is really at the end of a rainbow?
You mean there’s no pot of gold???? I’ve been so mislead! I dunno – a puddle of water?
Was there extra training required for this career after you finished university?
You need a Masters degree in the field of Audiology to practice, which includes several clinical placements (your undergrad degree can be in any field, but there are a few prerequisites). There will also be a lot of learning on the job, and opportunities for continuing education so you can stay current in this constantly-changing field.
What is the coolest part of your job?
We get to use lots of expensive equipment and computer technology every day.
Interacting and getting to know the patients and feeling like you make a contribution to enhancing their quality of life.
What’s the worst part of your job?
When the equipment doesn’t work, and you’re left hanging. Computers are your best friends when they work, your biggest curse when they don’t!
Meat. Yes or no?
Definitely YES. I tried being vegetarian when I was in university – but I craved meat even more! Although I couldn’t eat just meat either. I like variety!
Ooooops! Everyone makes mistakes so what was the dumbest thing you've ever done at work?
I went to shave down a patient’s hearing aid to make it more comfortable to wear, and I was too ambitious and put a big gaping hole in it instead. Nobody’s perfect!
What’s one thing nobody knows about you?
Well, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore if I told you, would it? :)
Any advice that you would give others seeking a similar career?
Check it out! Shadow or volunteer with an audiologist, and see if it’s something that might work for you. Most programs require that you obtain some hours of job-shadowing in the field before applying to the program,so you know what you’re getting into.
What is a typical salary range for an Audiologist?
What are some great web links or references for someone interesting in reading up more about this career?
Canadian Academy of Audiology
U.S. News Careers: Audiologist
American Academy of Audiology