Who will I meet when I go to a hearing clinic?

We know it can take some time between when someone thinks they have a hearing problem, and when they make an appointment at a hearing clinic to have their hearing assessed. With this blog, we hope to inform you about which types of hearing health care professionals you may meet at your audiological appointment. We thought we would take away some of the mystery and explain to you who will be conducting your hearing test when you do book an appointment, and what credentials they have.

“My hearing clinic has an Audiologist…what training to they have?”

At hearing clinics in Ontario, you will meet one of two hearing care professionals. The first is an audiologist. An audiologist can hold a two- or three-year Master’s degree of Clinical Science, or of Science, in Audiology, under the umbrella of Communication Disorders. An audiologist who has trained in the United States, or who has furthered their education following their Master’s degree may hold a Doctor of Audiology degree.  Requirement for entry into the Audiology program is an undergraduate university degree (typically 4 years) prior to beginning the Master’s program or four-year Doctor of Audiology degree available in the United States. They are able to work at hearing clinics that see adults and children. Conducting hearing tests as well as prescribing and fitting hearing aids are very different procedures on adults versus children of different ages. Audiologists may also work in hearing clinics of other sub-specialties such as tinnitus management or vestibular (balance) disorders. In order to practice in Ontario, audiologists must be registered with a regulatory body to protect the public. The regulatory body in Ontario is called the College of Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists of Ontario, or CASLPO for short. Other healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, nurses, and physicians also have regulatory bodies to ensure best practice protocols are in place and that the public is protected. They must meet strict criteria every year to maintain their status as a working, regulated audiologist. CASLPO also provides an online list of registered Audiologists, including the name/location/phone number of the hearing clinic(s) they work at.

“My hearing clinic has Hearing Instrument Specialist …how is that different?”

The second hearing care professional you could see at a hearing clinic is a Hearing Instrument Specialist (HIS). An HIS holds a two- year college diploma, that focuses on testing hearing and recommending and fitting hearing aids on adults only. While audiologists can prescribe hearing aids, hearing instrument specialists can only recommend hearing aids, and must have an audiologist or physician sign off on their prescription in order to proceed with the fitting and dispensing. Requirement for entry into the program is a high-school diploma. The scope of practice is narrower than an audiologist; however, they are able to be the sole clinician at a hearing clinic that services hearing aids, and offers assessment and basic hearing aid services. Hearing instrument specialists do not have a regulatory college that protects the public, and must only be members of an association.

Who you will meet at The Hearing Room

The three clinicians at The Hearing Room are all audiologists, with Masters of Clinical Science in Audiology. No matter what hearing clinic you start your hearing healthcare journey with, make sure you are comfortable with the professional there, as you will be working together for years to come!