An audiologist is a medical professional who focuses on the auditory system, while Hearing Instrument Specialists (HIS)measure hearing loss and recommend the ideal aid devices for patients. Both professions help those who need hearing aids and other assistive listening devices, but have different scopes of practice. Here’s a short guideline to help you understand their lines of work:
Scope of Practice
Audiologists have a bigger and more comprehensive scope of expertise in the field of hearing. They study patients of all age groups – from infants to adults, and also the mentally disabled. They can understand individuals who can’t explain their hearing status properly. They go through trainings to handle different cases, such as hearing aid prescription and counseling.
Hearing Instrument Specialists (HIS)are limited to working with adult patients, so they’re ideal for common hearing loss conditions. They undergo training to test hearing abilities and fit hearing aids. They refer patients to other health care professionals, especially if the hearing conditions are beyond their scope.
Audiologists have professional degrees (Doctor of Audiology, or Au.D.), which involve four years of academic and clinical education, including a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree. HIS only need a few educational requirements to sell assisted hearing devices, such as licensure exams, apprenticeship with a licensed hearing aid specialist, and at least a high school diploma. This also differs depending on the state they practice in.
Which Professional to Choose
The degree of hearing loss, age, and other health factors determine which professional to consult. Infants, children, and people with mental disabilities need to visit an audiologist, while those losing their hearing abilities because of aging can consult both an audiologist and an HIS. Most HIS only perform basic hearing tests, so it’s better to consult with an audiologist.
Before buying assisted hearing devices, make sure to visit at least one hearing professional to know more about your condition. This way, you’ll get the necessary prescription for your hearing loss.