Just as no two patients are identical, the same can be said of clinics. Some clinics are indepentantly owned and operated, some are owned by hearing aid manufacturers, some are part of a franchise, and some only deal with one manufacturer. Different clinics have different dispensers with different educational backgrounds. None of this is bad per se, but we feel it is important that our patients understand who is doing their testing. There have been many times when a patient has said to us "well, I THOUGHT they were an audiologist" only to find out afterwards that the tester was, in fact, a practitioner. Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Not all clinics have audiologists, some only have hearing aid practitioners. Some clinics have neither audiologists nor hearing aid practitioners but dispensers that are only interested in selling hearing aids. Different dispensers can and do have different policies in regards to costs of evaluations, what is included in their evaluations, products they dispense, and limited trial periods. Ask the right questions and if it doesn't feel right, or you are only getting a "hard sell" - know when to walk away and look elsewhere. The following can help with understanding the main differences between those providing hearing health as it relates to Saskatchewan:
(also known as an ENT – Ear Nose & Throat physician)
An otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon is a Doctor of Medicine who specializes in disorders of the head and neck, particularly those disorders related to the ears, nose and throat. The word “oto-rhino-laryngology” comes from the Greek words – “oto” for ear, “rhino” for nose and “laryn” for throat. Over the years, otolaryngology has expanded its area of expertise from the ears, nose and throat to a “regional” specialty of the head and neck and includes subspecialization in otology, neurotology, rhinology, sinus disease, laryngology, plastic surgery of the head and neck, tumour and cancer surgery of the head and neck, pediatric otolaryngology and allergic disorders of the upper respiratory system. An otolaryngologist has approximately 13 years or more of university training. To receive a fellowship from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, they must complete university, four years of medical school and five or more years of specialty training. At the end of this time, he or she must pass a certification examination to receive designation as an otolaryngologist. Some individuals pursue a further one or two years of subspecialty training. In Saskatchewan, to be seen by an otolaryngologist you must first be referred by a family physician. Additionally, otolaryngologists in Saskatchewan do not dispense hearing aids.
(source: Canadian Society of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery)
(also known as Clinical Audiologist, or Doctor of Audiology)
Audiologists are hearing health professionals who identify, diagnose and manage individuals with peripheral or central
hearing loss, tinnitus, vestibular and balance disorders and other communication disorders across the lifespan. Audiologists have a minimum of a Masters Degree in Audiology and spend an average of 7 years at university learning their profession. More recently others have completed a Doctorate in Audiology which adds an additional 2-3 years of post-graduate training. Audiologists are the only specialists trained to provide aural rehabilitation, perform audiological assessments, and provide recommendations for treatment. They examine your overall hearing and prescribe and fit hearing instruments and work with both pediatric and adult patients. Audiologists are also trained to provide counselling to individuals who are learning to cope with the practical and emotional repercussions of hearing loss. In Saskatchewan, you do not need to be first referred by a physician to be seen by an audiologist. Additionally, audiologists prescribe hearing aids, are governed by a regulatory body, and must meet regulatory requirements to practice.
(source: Speech Language Pathologists and Audiology Canada)
Hearing Aid Practitioner
(also known as a Hearing Instrument Specialist, Dispenser, or Technician)
Hearing aid practitioners work with adult clients, in businesses that sell hearing aids and assistive listening devices. They test hearing ability, select appropriate hearing aids and/or assistive listening devices for clients to purchase, and provide ongoing counseling and support to clients for their hearing and communication needs. In Saskatchewan, you do not need to be first referred by a physician to be seen by a hearing aid practitioner. The majority of practitioners complete a 2 year diploma program, however, some dispensers in Saskatchewan are dispensing with a 30 day or 3 month correspondence course.
(source: Grant MacEwan University)
Eastside Audiology is proud to say that we have 2 Doctors of Audiology, one Clinical Audiologist, and one Hearing Aid Practitioner on our staff. They went to school for a long time and they deserve to "toot their own horn" as it were. We think it is important to understand who is providing your care. At Eastside Audiology we believe education is extremely important. Be wary of those with minimal education but "lots of experience". If you have a difficult loss you will want to have the best care providers available to you. When you combine both education AND experience we believe you have a winning combination