How Are Audiologists Different From Hearing Instrument Specialists?
If you have recently been diagnosed with hearing loss, you would know what it is like to be completely confused about a condition that you know very little about. Visiting doctor after doctor and having tests done on you may be a daunting experience, but surely there is light at the end of the tunnel. As scary as it may seem now, your quality of life will undoubtedly improve after you have received the right treatment for your hearing loss.
One of the many questions that people ask about hearing loss treatment is which hearing healthcare professional to see. Just like in any other field, there are different kinds of practitioners concerned with hearing loss treatment. You need to gauge which professional is most likely to meet your unique needs. Here are some differences between an audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist (HIS).
Training and education
The major difference between an audiologist and a HIS is their level of training and education. An audiologist has at least a Master’s Degree in Audiology. Some audiologists also have Doctorates in their respective field. This means six to eight years of training in audiology. On the other hand, an HIS or dispenser typically has a college degree that trains for vocation and applied skills rather than research. In many states, HIS only need a high school diploma for them to get a license to practice.
Scope of practice
The next major distinction between an audiologist and an HIS is their scope of practice. An audiologist is authorized to work with a wide array of people, ranging from infants, adults and elderly to people with special needs. They are trained for full diagnostic evaluations of the patient's entire auditory system, from the outer ear to the brain. This makes it very important for you to see an audiologist if you don’t know what the cause of your hearing loss is. Since audiologists are concerned with the pathology behind hearing loss, they are the medical specialists who deal with figuring out the root cause of hearing loss.
An HIS, in contrast, is strictly concerned with carrying out hearing evaluations for the purpose of fitting hearing aids. If your sole purpose in visiting a healthcare professional is to get hearing aids fitted, then seeing a HIS will be right choice for you. Unlike audiologists, HIS can only work with the adult population for their hearing loss needs. HIS are not allowed to diagnose hearing loss or other pathologies and can only perform testing for the purpose of programming a hearing aid.
However, one of the most important aspects of success in the field of medical science is experience and attitude. Despite having lesser formal training than audiologists, some HIS can have a long spanning experience in the field that makes them very efficient at what they do. They are the right choice for someone who needs to get hearing aids fitted, but not the right choice for someone who has never had a diagnostic evaluation done to determine the cause of their hearing loss.