An audiologist is a health professional who can help you with hearing problems. They see people across the lifespan: infants to elderly. They can diagnose and care for people with hearing loss (peripheral or central hearing loss), tinnitus (apparent noise in the ears), some problems with balance (vestibular balance), and other communications problems. Audiologists complete a master’s degree in audiology, have at least 350 clinical hours and must pass a national exam before applying for a license with the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC (the College). They work either independently or as a part of a larger health care team in public health, community or corporate clinics.
Only an audiologist registered with the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC can be called an “audiologist” in B.C.
What does an audiologist do?
An audiologist performs tests to determine your level of hearing loss and make a diagnosis concerning several communication disorders. If you have any of these problems, an audiologist can help with treatment and management. Most audiologists are also registered as a Hearing Instrument Practitioner which enables them to legally sell hearing aids. Some audiologists have advanced certification training to help you with balance problems, or removal of wax from your ears, or to perform cochlear implants.
How do audiologists keep their skills up to date?
Audiologists are required to maintain continued education and must obtain and report at least 45 credits every three years. The College conducts a random audit to ensure audiologists comply with this requirement.
What happens when I first visit an audiologist?
Many hearing clinics promote a free 5-minute hearing screening or hearing check. This is a simple test to determine if there is an obvious hearing loss. It is not an assessment. A full assessment takes about 45 minutes and is normally included in the price of the hearing aid, should you require one or a set. Be sure to ask about the process and the costs involved before you sign any agreement. If you do require hearing aids, be sure the agreement includes all the information you need about the warranty, and serial number of the hearing aids. Follow-up visits are often required. If your hearing problem is more complex other tests will be involved.
How can I find an audiologist?
The College website provides a directory by city entitled ‘Find a Professional in My City’ which is easily accessible from the Public home page.
How do I pay for an audiologist?
An audiologist seen within a public health setting is free of charge to people covered by MSP. Early hearing screening is overseen by audiologists and is publicly funded. If your hearing problem is related to a work environment, or if you are a veteran, first nations citizen or under the care of the MSDSI, you may be eligible for third party assistance. If you have no insurance, you will be required to pay for services and/or hearing aids directly to the hearing clinic.
What if I have concerns about the care I received from an audiologist?
You have the right to expect a professional standard of care from your audiologist. If you think that has not happened, please contact the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC.
Where can I find more information about an audiologist?