The ear is a tool vital for experiencing the whole range of sensory input, and all people (and most animals) rely on both ears to sense movement, ambient changes, vocal communication, music, and many other things. Maintaining hearing is extremely important, and the audiologist is the individual who does this in a non-medical capacity. They are tasked with assessing the quality of a person's hearing and balance and, after diagnosing any problems, formulating a rehabilitation program, which may include speech reading, auditory therapy, and hearing assistance devices. While this is the duty of regular audiologists, dispensing audiologists are those who are also certified to issue and fit such devices.
Dispensing audiologists meet with patients who have hearing or balance issues to discuss their concerns. A series of tests will then be administered to assess the patient's auditory aptitude; upon analyzing the results, the audiologist can determine what, if any, further care the patient will need. This may involve various kinds of rehabilitation and re-training or, in the case of hearing loss, issuing and fitting of hearing aid devices. In cases where serious issues are discovered, patients may be referred to an otiologist, who is a medical professional capable of performing surgery.
To become a dispensing audiologist, one must first complete a full doctorate (an AuD); this program is a certification course administered by the Council on Academic Accreditation. An active audiology license is also required in order for audiologists to legally practice. Prospective candidates may wish to pursue courses in communication sciences and disorders in order to expedite their training.
Dispensing Audiologist Tasks
Fit and dispense assistive devices, such as hearing aids.
Plan, conduct and monitor treatment programs, recommend assistive devices according to patients' nature of impairment.
Administer hearing or speech and language evaluations, tests and examinations to patients.
Evaluate hearing and speech/language disorders to determine diagnoses and courses of treatment.
Document the initial evaluation, treatment, progress and discharge of patients.