An Interview with an Audiologist
Audiologist and Business Owner,
While she first had interest in becoming a teacher, by her teenage years, KarineBossé had decided that a career in either audiology or speech-language pathology was a good fit for her. She decided on audiology and worked for 8 years in the field before life took her overseas to New Zealand. There, Karine continued to work in audiology but the focus of the clinic she worked in was more about hearing health than her previous experience. When she returned to Canada, she did not want to lose this appreciation for hearing health so she opened her own clinic, Echo Audiology, so she could continue to serve patients with a focus on education and counselling.
In this interview, Karine tells us what it is like to be an audiologist and gives more details about her career in this important health field.
What is your job description?
Audiologists are health care professionals trained to evaluate hearing loss and related disorders, including vestibular disorders (balance) and tinnitus (ringing in the ears), with the help of a variety of tests and procedures. They also counsel patients and help them through the rehabilitation process.
Like most health professionals, audiologists often end up focusing on specific areas of practice throughout their career. Personally speaking, I have gained a lot of clinical experience in the private sector, evaluating patients’ hearing ability and working on the rehabilitation of their hearing through the help of hearing aids and assistive listening devices. However, I would say that three-quarters of my job is educating and counselling my patients.
What are your main tasks?
Audiologists have a lot of tasks in their work day. Here are ten tasks that come to mind.
- Taking a patient case history
- Performing hearing evaluations
- Referring patients to appropriate health professionals as needed
- Counselling and educating patients and their family about various topics (hearing loss, tinnitus, hearing aids, etc.)
- Prescribing, dispensing, troubleshooting, repairing and cleaning hearing aids
- Prescribing assistive listening devices
- Writing reports (medical or other)
- Administrative tasks
- Record keeping
- Supervising the staff (being a business owner)
What education is required for audiologists, and what education do you have?
To be an audiologist in Canada, you need to have completed a Masters’ Degree in Audiology. Then you need to complete the provincial requirements to work in your province of choice. There are further qualifications that you can complete, but this is what’s required in Ontario.
I have a Double Major Undergrad in Psychology and Linguistics, a Masters’ Degree in Health Sciences in Audiology. In addition, I have my National Canadian Certification under Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC) and the Ontario provincial certification under The College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists (CASLPO). Having worked in New Zealand, I have also completed the New Zealand Audiological Society’s (NZAS) National Clinical Certification as well.
What skills are useful for audiologists?
Having strong communication skills is probably one of the top assets for an audiologist. Patients rely on you to guide them through their concerns. At the same time, it is also crucial for a clinician to relay the information correctly to patients and guide them in the right direction.
More helpful skills for audiologists:
- Strong listening skills
- Strong problem-solving skills
- Ability to analyze information
- Ability to troubleshoot a problem
- Being caring and supportive
- Strong counselling skills
- Being flexible
- Ability to educate and relay information
- A willingness to learn new information, especially when it comes to technology
What equipment is used in audiology?
- The Aurical Equipment (audiometer, impedance machine, video otoscope, real-ear measurements or REM verification)
- Otosuite software
- Cleaning tools
- And more.
What is it like?
What is your workplace like?
Now that I own my clinic, Echo Audiology, I was able to create the work environment that I always wanted. The clinic is very clean and modern looking, with blues and greys that create quite a relaxing and Zen atmosphere. We are a boutique hearing clinic, so we created a clinic where it feels very inviting for our patients.
When it comes to scheduling patients, I created a schedule where we can spend more time with patients compared to clinics I was previously employed at. This gives us a chance to educate and counsel our patients appropriately. It also helps build a relationship of trust and understanding with them. What’s important to know is that Audiologists end up having a long-term clinician-patient relationship simply because of the nature of the work. In my experience, patients who were most successful with the rehabilitation of their hearing had access to great services. That’s where our focus is at Echo Audiology.We also cater to French and English patients, children and adults, and are wheelchair accessible.
What are your work hours like?
An audiologist who is employed by a company will work a typical 35-40 hour week. As a business owner, my work week can range from 50-75 hours. At Echo Audiology, we have also opened our schedule for occasional evening appointments to better cater to our patients’ needs.
What is the workload like? Describe a typical work day if one exists.
A typical workload for an audiologist in private clinic includes a variety of appointments such as hearing tests and hearing aid troubleshooting appointments. At Echo Audiology, our appointments will vary from 30 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on the reason for the appointment. On top of our appointments, we often have other administrative and clinical tasks to get through. Each day varies a little.
Audiologists may sometimes need to work outside of their work hours, whether it is for a patient appointment, writing reports or finishing up clinical notes. We also have to make time for continued education hours, as required by our provincial college.
How is your job different from others working in this space?
Generally speaking, the bulk of my clinical job will be quite similar to the job of other audiologists working in other clinics. However, I have been able to spend a lot more time counselling my patients now that I opened Echo Audiology. As a business owner, I also have a lot of tasks that are not clinic related, but rather more community or education related.
What is your story? How did you get here?
I worked for about 8 years in various fields of the audiology industry before opening my clinic, Echo Audiology. I mainly worked in the Orléans area of Ottawa for a couple of private clinics. At that point in my career, I saw patients on a daily basis and also performed hearing tests for an Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist. Then, I worked briefly as a Field Trainer in the province of Québec for a hearing aid manufacturer. I got to learn about the development of hearing aid technology which was very interesting to me.
My life then took me overseas to Wellington, New Zealand, where I worked in a private clinic setting for Bay Audiology. There was a real focus on health that was so present in my job there and I fell in love with audiology all over again. While working for Bay Audiology, I was asked to be a Managing Audiologist in one of their busy clinics in Lower Hutt, New Zealand.
When my spouse and I decided to move back to Orléans, I couldn’t see any other plan than to open my own clinic and continue to focus on the health aspect of hearing.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I remember wanting to be a teacher when I was very young, mostly because my mother was a teacher. That said, by 16 years old, I knew I wanted to be an audiologist or a speech-language pathologist. I had seen a pamphlet about these professions that described the typical personality traits of these types of professionals and thought it fit my personality well. From there, I geared my studies to get into either the Audiology or Speech-Language Pathology Masters’ program.
What has been the biggest challenge (obstacle) in your career?
My biggest challenge has definitely been to open my own clinic after being away from Orléans for a couple years. That said, it has also been the best decision of my career.
I am thrilled to have opened Echo Audiology and things are going very well! We have had awesome feedback so far from the community. I want to continue to provide bilingual, friendly, quality and comprehensive services to the community, and keep counselling and education everyone about why hearing health is so important.
What is your favourite task or type of work?
I enjoy counselling and getting to know my patients. That said, I think what I prefer the most in my job is my patients’ reaction when I first fit them with hearing aids. Their reaction to how effortless their hearing becomes is quite cool to watch and very rewarding for me.
The Big Questions
What is your passion?
This is a hard question to answer! I have been passionate about various things in my life. For a lot of my teenage years, my passion was probably being a ringette player. If you ask me now, my passion is my work! I love coming to work – and I know not everyone can say that. I consider myself extremely lucky to have figured out what I love to do!
What do you love most about your career?
I love being able to work with patients and make them feel at ease in a setting where most feel quite nervous. It is also interesting to work with technology that keeps improving year after year. I am very excited to see where hearing rehabilitation will be in the next 5 years!
What would you change about your career?
I would love for there to be more funding available for hearing aids and for audiology services in general. Audiology is a rehabilitation field and for the most part, falls under private services for patients. I find it unfortunate that as audiologists, we cannot bill any of our services under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).
There should also be a stronger focus in my industry on the importance of hearing health, rather than always showcasing information about hearing aids. Even though the choice of hearing aid is important, I think choosing a clinic with the right services is most important.
Advice for Future Audiologists
Advice for someone interested in this career?
If you are considering any career, audiology or not, I highly recommend doing volunteering or observation hours within the field. This gets you an excellent idea of what a work day may look like. I also recommend asking questions to professionals in your field of interest.
How will this career evolve in the next 5 (or more) years?
There is a lot of research being done in this industry which will be interesting to follow. That said, I think the most evident evolution we will see in the next 5 years will be with hearing aid technology.
Provide your top career tip.
Never think that you know everything – because you never do! There is always something you can learn.
Provide your top job-hunting tip.
Most audiology jobs can be found under the SAC (Speech-Language & Audiology Canada) and CAA (Canadian Academy of Audiology) websites. However, you can also find some through all the regular job search websites.