Audiologist vs. Hearing Aid Dispenser – do you know the difference between the two?

Imagine the cringe factor associated with taking your Rolls Royce or Ferrari to some cheap garage behind a warehouse in a seedy part of town. Doesn’t it make more sense to take your high-dollar automobile to a factory certified service center? A certified service center has the unique qualifications to provide the proper care for your car, while that seedy garage, well… I use this illustration to provide a simplified explanation of the difference between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser. Although there are some similarities, the differences between an audiologist and a common hearing aid dispenser are significant.

Audiologist vs. Hearing Aid Dispenser : Similarities

Hearing aid dispensers and audiologists can help you select the type and design of various types of instruments and assisted listening devices, and provide you with a fitting service for the device you choose. Both conduct basic hearing tests, and both have the capacity to serve adult patients who require hearing assistance from a hearing instrument.

Audiologist vs. Hearing Aid Dispenser : Level of Care

Some hearing aid dispensers have advanced training in some testing and hearing aid devices, provide excellent fitting and maintenance services, and do a decent job when it comes to aftercare. However, the similarities between them and audiologists end at this point. An audiologist is a doctor with a license to practice their specific type of health care. Audiologists have the capacity and additional training to go beyond conducting a general hearing test to sell you a hearing aid. Doctors of audiology can conduct a broad range of diagnostic audiological evaluations such as:

• hearing sensitivity
• speech understanding
• middle and inner ear function
• auditory nerve function

Like the certified service center used in the illustration above, an audiologist has extensive training and knowledge reaching beyond the expertise and most advanced qualifications of a hearing aid dispenser. A doctor of audiology has an extensive range of treatment options and qualifications available to treat all types of patients, including children.

Unique Qualifications of an Audiologist

Doctors of audiology have a higher level of understanding and expertise specifically related to the physiological function of hearing. Qualifications unique to audiologists for serving our patients include:

• Legal Authorization to Bill Insurance Companies (private, Medicare, Medicaid)
• Cochlear Implants (candidacy examination and programming)
• Ototoxic Monitoring (auditory threat-related treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, others)
• Assessment and Treatment for Balance and Dizziness Disorders
• Capacity to Conduct Auditory Processing Assessments
• Providing Amplification Systems for Classrooms (design, selection, installation, monitoring)
• Aural Rehabilitation Therapy (instrument aided, non-aided, auditory processing disorders)
• Management of Cerumen (ear wax)
• Evaluation and Management of Tinnitus
• Provide Counseling for Patient and Family (diagnosis and treatment)
• Hearing Conservation Programs (development and implementation)
• Education and Prevention of Ototoxic and Vestibulatoxic Substance Abuse
• Research and Development of Evaluation Techniques and Rehabilitation Strategies

These distinctive characteristics are a part of the advanced hearing care of an audiologist and are not available from a hearing aid dispenser. Essentially, while hearing aid dispensers have the capacity to plaster over the problem with a hearing aid, a doctor of audiology seeks to provide you with far-reaching auditory solutions.

In addition to fitting our patients with the right hearing assistance devices, Alabama Hearing Associates meets a broader range of hearing health care needs, including years of after-care, follow-up appointments to evaluate progress, an extensive range of treatment options, and the qualified experience and expertise of a doctor dedicated to all aspects of healthy hearing.

Contact us to learn more about the hearing healthy solutions provided by Alabama Hearing Associates.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Dr. Susan Sheehy

Dr. Sheehy earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in audiology at the University of Alabama before beginning her career as a clinical audiologist in Huntsville. In 2005, she received her doctorate in audiology from Salus University. Dr. Sheehy is one of a specialized subset of audiologists certified in tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT). By appointment from the governor, she has served as a member and chairperson of the Alabama Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.