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This past summer I was fortunate enough to be able to volunteer and observe audiologist, Dr. Jennifer Titus, at the Warren Campus of St. Luke’s Hospital in the Balance Center. A typical day included greeting patients, using technology to examine their level of hearing, cleaning hearing aids, and offering advice on the best solution for their hearing loss.

This experience was significant to me because this is potentially my lifelong career, and I wanted to ensure that this is what will make me happy and that I should continue pursuing a degree in CSD. I experience a bilateral hearing loss and often, patients were embarrassed to admit they couldn’t hear and to wear hearing aids. At times like this, I stepped into my audiologist’s place and explained to them how I wear hearing aids myself and the benefits they have provided me with, therefore showing the patient there was nothing to be afraid of. I loved seeing their reactions when they realized that I wasn’t, in fact, a “normal” hearing individual and proud to witness the resolve they soon showed thereafter. They willfully accepted the challenge of trying out a pair of hearing aids and left the office seeing the glass half full and hearing better than ever.

As a CSD major, my coursework greatly applied to this experience. During my time as a student in audiology class with Professor Leslie Purcell, I learned about the inner workings of an ear, as well as how to graph audiograms when testing for a hearing loss and determine if it’s a sensorineural or conductive hearing loss. My first day working with Jen we conducted an audiogram and while observing her write down the symbols on the audiogram, I found that for the first time (after having been the subject of many audiograms myself), I finally understood what it all meant! It was a cool experience to see how all of the information I studied came together as a whole in just one appointment. It taught me the importance of needing results from every test to put together a cohesive and accurate answer or else the solution will be flawed.

The main lesson I learned is that while it’s necessary to learn about the tools and anatomy of a human, schooling only goes so far. After observing, I found that being able to understand patients is the biggest factor for being a success in the profession. Growing up with hearing aids my whole life I am accustomed to the idea that if you have a hearing loss you need hearing aids. After a patient politely declined a pair during an appointment this summer I struggled to understand why a person would deny themselves the opportunity to improve their quality of life. Jen suggested why one would give up the sense of sound presented to them. This will benefit me in the future because a goal for improving myself is to see things from the patient perspective and understand the choice made, even though it might not be the one I would make.