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What is an Audiologist and their work role in the NHS?

Audiology is the study and assessment of hearing and balance along with the treatment & prevention of associated disorders.

Audiological scientists develop ways to measure and compensate for hearing loss, and for diagnosing neurological diseases. They work directly with patients, often children or elderly people. They play both a clinical role and a managerial development role and are the driving force behind the development of Audiology services in many areas.

Audiologists are members of a multidisciplinary team, usually based in a hospital, which is concerned with the identification, diagnosis and rehabilitation of hearing and balance disorders and may come from clinical, technical, scientific or rehabilitation disciplines. Indeed, in the UK, there is no one profession or role known simply as Audiologist. No single Profession represents the entire field, with a variety of job roles, such as Audiological scientists, Audiology physicians and Audiology technicians, taking on the title.

As a result, people working in Audiology come from a range of levels of educational achievement. Almost any science subject at almost any level might be a starting point to consider a career in some aspects of Audiology.

Fully trained Audiological scientists will have a substantial amount of theoretical knowledge about hearing, acoustics and balance, and are able to critically interpret and report the results of procedures. This knowledge enables the Audiologist to solve technical problems, and when necessary to develop logical alternatives. Experienced Audiological Scientists generally carry out the non-routine aspects of an Audiology service, where a high degree of competence and responsibility is necessary.

There are 2 ways to train in Audiology at the present time. One is to undertake a degree (BSc) in Audiology, the other is to enter the NHS as a clinical scientist after having taken a relevant degree and taking a masters (MSc) in Audiology.

Entry requirements:

  • For entry into the BSc degree course, the usual entry level is a range of GCSEs (A-C) including English and science/maths with 3 A levels. At least one A level will generally be needed in a science subject.
  • There are a number of alternative qualifications that may be accepted, such as BTECs, GNVQs and access courses. It is advisable to check entry requirements with the institution of your choice as entry levels may vary.
  • For entry as a clinical scientist, you will usually require a first (1) or upper second (2:1) class honors degree in a relevant science subject, preferably with some knowledge of physics or behavioral science and a proven interest or experience in Audiology.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills and an interest in direct patient care is essential.
  • Audiological scientists require background knowledge of the scientific and technical basis which hearing science involves and the generalist ones usually stemming from the Audiological scientists graduate background enabling them to act as coordinator, manager and initiator of service development.
  • Alternative career pathways in the field of Audiology include audiological scientist and hearing therapist.
  • Hearing and hearing loss (deafness) are important for most Audiology professionals. These terms cover a number of separate professional roles, for example, hearing function measurement and the diagnosis and treatment of hearing disorders, provision of hearing aids, rehabilitation and counselling of those with a hearing impairment and the prevention of occupational hearing loss.
  • The other area of Audiology is that concerned with balance. This involves the measurement and assessment of the vestibular organ or labyrinth that is an integral part of the ear and the treatment of disorders of balance.
  • Audiology is a growing field with good prospects. It is both challenging and satisfying and there is often a good mix of clinical, technical, scientific and rehabilitation practices.

Where can I obtain further information?

For further information on a career in Audiology, contact:

British Academy of Audiology
PO Box 346
Peterborough RM
Tel: 01733 253976


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