What is an audiologist?

An audiologist is a healthcare professional who helps patients manage their hearing loss and their ability to process sounds, and can also help treat balance disorders.
Their aim is to help patients communicate better and so enjoy life to the full, and they work with people of all ages – from babies to the elderly. Indeed, an audiologist may specialise in a particular type of patient, for example a pediatric audiologist will care for children with hearing issues.

What does an audiologist do?

An audiologist performs a wide range of tasks. These start with carrying out diagnostic tests to find out a patient’s level of hearing and auditory function (how the brain processes soundwaves to form information) and determine the severity of other issues, such as tinnitus and balance problems.

They will prescribe and fit devices such as hearing aids and other hearing-enhancing technology to improve a patient’s day-to-day life.

Audiologists can also help with ear wax removal, making specialised ear plugs for swimmers or musicians or to block out noise, and can provide communication training too.

Audiometrist vs audiologist

Let’s take a look at the differences between the roles of an audiometrist and an audiologist.

Audiometrists are healthcare professionals who perform the non-medical assessment of a patient’s hearing abilities or loss, and help them manage their condition.

They will have a vocational qualification in audiometry, or a Bachelor’s degree in audiometry.

They carry out tests to find out whether a patient has hearing loss, and identify the exact nature of the hearing loss and how far it is affecting the patient.

If they continue their studies with another diploma and undergo clinical supervision for two years, they can then qualify to prescribe and fit hearing aids. They will also have the ability to adjust and repair hearing aids.

An audiometrist can also create a rehabilitation programme to help a patient regain their communication skills following hearing loss.

An audiologist has more extensive training, achieving a Bachelor’s degree followed by a Master’s degree in clinical audiology.

As well as prescribing and fitting hearing aids, audiologists are skilled in the areas of psychoacoustics (how sound is perceived), balance disorders, cochlear implants and bone-anchored hearing aids.

They can also provide medication for ear infections, clean the ear canal and advise on living with tinnitus.

In short, an audiometrist can help with assessing hearing loss and providing hearing aids, while an audiologist has the skills to help patients with a whole range of additional hearing and balance-related issues.

Audiologist visit cost?

The cost of your audiologist visit will vary according to what procedure you are having.

Some appointments may be paid for by Medicare for example if you have a Chronic Disease Management Plan, a referral from an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist or Neurologist or qualify for the Australian Government Hearing Services Program. However many private hearing services are not covered by Medicare.

You may pay more for more time-consuming or complex appointments, such as a tinnitus assessment.

The good news is that many private health insurers offer rebates for audiology services and devices. For example Cochlear implants and other hearing devices that are implanted surgically are often fully reimbursed by private healthcare. Eligible pensioners and war veterans receive hearing aids free of charge under the Hearing Services Program.

It’s worth checking with your audiologist what they charge and what your health insurance covers as costs may vary widely.

How do I find an audiologist?

While you don’t need a referral from another healthcare professional to see an audiologist, you can talk through any concerns with your GP initially. They may recommend one or more audiologists, and while it may seem daunting to know which one to go to, there is help out there.

Finding an audiologist is made easy with Whitecoat, this will help you make an informed decision about an audiologist suitable for your needs, and you can make an appointment with them through our directory too.

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