Prospective AuD or PA much technology in AuD?

Discussion in 'Audiology [ Au.D ]' started by LostStudent11, Aug 2, 2015.

  1. LostStudent11

    Aug 2, 2015
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    Hi, I've recently graduated with my BS (human development) and I'm interested in applying to AuD programs. I would like to know what a typical day is like for an Audiologist. I've also read that the profession is dependent on technology... I'm not the best with computers so I'm wondering if it would be very difficult for me..I'm in my early 20's and I can use social media, PowerPoint, Excel, etc, but if something stops working, I don't know how to fix it and it's very frustrating for me. How technical is the job? If the computer is not working, will someone help you, or are you expected to fix it?
    I spent years thinking I would become a PA, but I'm having a hard time finding healthcare experience (I was possibly thinking of specializing in psychiatry, since I have a strong interest in mental health). For healthcare experience, I tried to complete CNA and phlebotomy programs, and both ended badly and I didn't end up with certification.
    I'm a bit socially anxious and didn't realize how uncomfortable I would be touching people. I'm thinking that audiology might be less stressful for me (and wouldn't have to touch people quite as much?)... but I haven't shadowed anyone yet so I don't know. The PAs and audiologists I have reached out to have never replied to my request for shadowing. It is making me feel very hopeless because I feel lost and worthless not knowing what I want to do. I enjoy helping people and I'm good at one-on-one interactions, but I am not as outgoing as most of other medical students I have met. I'm also very sensitive, and have been told by some medical professionals that you need to have a very thick skin... (but I've been in food service and have taken verbal abuse from people and did alright..I'm good at smiling and being nice even when they're insulting me, but I might cry later, haha).
    I've also read a lot of concerns over salary, and that's another reason why I might be safer with the PA profession. However, I also read that audiologists work less hours and are not on call like PAs, so that may be better since I would like to have a more relaxed schedule when I have a family. Any tips are greatly appreciated!! Thank you I'm so lost!!
  2. intothevertigo

    2+ Year Member

    Jan 21, 2014
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    Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
    Hi LostStudent11... I think if you are considering doctoral level programs, which are large commitments, it would be important to get experience in the field prior to applying. Can you take an Intro to Audiology course somewhere? Perhaps the faculty from a program with undergraduate communication disorders courses could help you connect with an audiologist who would allow you to observe. That would be a good starting point.

    Audiologists work in many settings, but as a whole, I do think technology plays a large role in what they do, both in diagnostics and treatment. There are many different types of diagnostic testing (and many pieces of equipment) that may or may not be appropriate for any given patient. Each patient is kind of like a puzzle, and you have to figure out what tests can help you determine what is going on with them. And each test is not as simple as just pressing a button. And if results are atypical, you would need to be able to figure out whether something was incorrect in the way you were testing, with the equipment, or was a true result.

    On the treatment side, hearing aid work is a huge part of what many audiologists do, and those come with a TON of troubleshooting. Say a patient brings in their hearing aids and they say it isn't working -- you would need to attempt to figure out what was wrong (unless you want to send out every pair of hearing aids that come in back to the manufacturer, but that certainly isn't efficient). Is it plugged with wax? Is the receiver bad? You learn over time how to troubleshoot them and figure out what the problems are, but if you don't enjoy doing that type of stuff it would be something to consider.

    Finally, you do definitely have to touch people. You would do otoscopy to look in their ears, which can get pretty up close and personal, and you would frequently be placing insert earphones into their ears, bone conduction vibrators on their head, etc. There is a lot of ear wax involved. It may not be as much touching as a PA though... hard to say as I have no experience in that field.

    All of the above reasons are many of the reasons I love the field, but you would need to figure out if it would be a good fit for you. Try and find some of the per-requisite courses and take those, get to know those faculty, look for observation hours that way and that may help you figure out what your next step should be. Good luck!

  3. TheEarDoc

    TheEarDoc Audiologist
    7+ Year Member

    Dec 28, 2010
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    You learn how to troubleshoot hearing aids and software. It just takes practice. It depends on where you work how independent you have to be with computers/software/etc..

    If you could not do CNA or phlebotomy then PA is definitely not for you. I did nursing for awhile and trust me you get used to being covered in other people's bodily fluids. Nothing really phases me anymore when it comes to healthcare after going through nursing school.

    In audiology you still have to have thick skin, especially in the VA or when working with Medicaid patients. I've been spit on, yelled at, cussed at, stuff thrown at me, and my life threatened a few times. I've never been physically attacked yet, but it's never out of the realm of possibility. Also I've been slobbered on a lot by pediatrics, covered in snot, vomited on during VNG testing, and dug some pretty nasty stuff out of ears over the years.

    Work less hours? I still work over 40 hours a week. My salary is pretty good for audiology standards in the VA, but I have a lot of other administrative stuff to juggle besides just patient care. PA's do make more, and they are not always on call, just depends on what specialty you work in. Many specialties are 9-5 style clinics so you won't be on call.

    Given what you stated about yourself, I cannot see you doing nurse practitioner or PA. Audiology might even be a stretch. Some people are not cut out for healthcare and that's ok. I would never advise pursuing a career for the money though.
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