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Audiology Career Outlook

Discussion in 'Audiology [ Au.D ]' started by MedLove _02, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. MedLove _02

    MedLove _02

    Jan 1, 2018
    I am a communication disorders student who is currently contemplating what path I should take after my undergraduate degree. I have always had a passion for medicine because I really enjoy helping people, however math and science were never my particular strong suits. While science I can definitely work with, math seems to be something that just does not stick with me.

    Now that being said, I have always excelled in English and written language. I thought that what better way to combine my interest in medicine and language than to major in communication disorders: I would get to help people, and be part of a medical team in addition to dwelling in my strengths. As I am progressing in my com dis program, I have been really drawn to Audiology, and I love the idea of being able to treat patients, potentially opening my own clinic, etc.

    As I have done more research on the AuD profession, it seems like a lot of individuals have nothing but bad news or less than stellar results in their endeavors after graduating. I've even seen graduates posting that they would not recommend the field to anyone which is sad because I really feel this would be a dream job for someone like myself. Id like to hear your experiences regarding employment and career opportunities presented in the following years after graduation, or during grad school.

    1: Is the salary competitive? (I dont need to be rich my any means, but Id like to be able to provide for a family and live comfortably and pay off loans etc.)

    2: How is the work life balance? ( This kind of ties into wanting a family and being able to provide, etc.)

    3: Is there any hope of opening an independent clinic? (I've been hearing that its relatively hard to get one established and profitable?)

    4: Do you feel that there is an over saturation of Audiologists out there?

    5: I have also seen concerns about ENT practices and commercial stores (Like CVS) offering hearing aid repairing/ hearing screenings on a mass level, thus reducing the need for Audiologists. Do you feel that this is something that will become more common in the future?

    Any information at all about the profession would be greatly appreciated, these questions listed above are just a few that I've seen discussed and debated on multiple forums.

    Thank you all for reading!
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  3. pumpkinhead


    Jan 23, 2018
    It is not a field I would recommend anyone investing in at this point in time. Your concerns are all very valid. You need to obtain information from people in the field, and NOT from faculty at AuD programs. They will paint a very rosy picture of the field, talk about status, etc. . It is very ivory tower and not at all grounded in the real world. Remember, they promote the program to save their jobs. No AuD students = no professors.

    Professional forums are filled with posts by audiologists who have loved their fields, but are desperate to survive until they can retire or sell their practice. Manufacturers and buying groups dominate. Having a successful private practice is extremely hard, if not impossible. The rise of third party administrators holding a large demographic of patients "hostage" to obtain their hearing aids from participating providers eliminates your ability to establish patients. I do mean large demographic. Think of everyone in the Teacher's union, or the entire Blue Cross/Blue Shield population in a state. You cannot join and become a provider because if you do so, you will be operating at a financial loss - limited to a tiny fitting fee, after which you must provide "free hearing tests and free follow up care" for several years, after which you cannot charge more than $35 a visit. No balance billing to patients. Existing on diagnostic fees along is not an option, reimbursement seems to decrease each year for specialty tests such as ABR, vestibular, audiologicals. There is a huge surplus of new AuD graduates, many whom call looking for per diem work because they cannot attract enough patients for their new practices. Or AuD students interviewing, shocked because they cannot command the salary that "their education entitles."

    Patients cannot be seen directly by an audiologist and have their hearing tests paid for by Medicare. Direct access is unlikely to EVER happen. Audiology professional groups are at odds with each other; AAA vs. ASHA, ADA vs. AAA. With such infighting, no wonder no progress has been made with lobbying. If as a profession, people cannot agree, who in DC is inclined to listen to what is, a drop in the fiscal budget anyway?

    If you look at Audiology professional magazines, the general theme of many articles is "survival" and "how much longer before we are extinct". There's a very good reason. Big Box stores like Costco can buy hearing aids at a third of what an audiologist in private practice can......we cannot compete. Consumers pay attention to the bottom dollar. CVS service delivery is definitely coming. Help wanted ads read "Audiologist or hearing aid dispenser". They would really prefer the cheaper hearing aid dispenser.

    As to being called "Doctor"; unfortunately, if you work with MD's (who secretly, no matter how progressive they may seem, are snickering because they view you as a technician anyway), the majority do not like the title being used, and are quick to point out that they can hire a technician anyway, because after all, you just do audiograms anyway (very true-many a doctoral student has said "I got my Master's/ doctoral degree to push buttons?). They stop doing vestibular tests because they don't get payment, balance centers close and don't justify operating costs. But, they keep the audiologist because they can bill Medicare for testing and they hope for hearing aid sales.

    There will always be specialty pockets that will remain "safe" - Veteran's Administration, Pediatrics, Cochlear Implants, possibly educational audiology (shrinking school budgets mean fewer staff, more paperwork, less diagnostics and patient care). But may have abandoned clinical practice very early, probably a wise move. I mean, just take a look at all the Sales Representatives at hearing aid companies. Many have an AuD. The full scope of practice potential is seldom realized for many audiologists.

    There are other fields where your work and money will serve you better. You will be in the hock to loans for a very long time, with salaries very low compared to what you spent.

    Full time salaries in hospitals, etc. are not amazing. For as much money as you put into an AuD, take a look at ASHA and AAA's annual salary reports. Cost benefit analysis = not worth it.

    Sorry to be a downer, but I am here in the trenches. If you are a good writer, marketing in healthcare in business. Or for clinical work, nurse practicioner CRNP, OT or PT, or SLP. Lots more options, all those fields have good potential for per diem work for life/family balance.
    Sorry to be so reality based. . . . .but you can still chart a new course.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
    ha3405 likes this.

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