Hearing is a precious gift; when hearing loss develops, it is important to contact the best, most qualified hearing healthcare professional available to meet your needs. In New York State, this can be a confusing issue. The following is a list of three professionals most often providing hearing health services. This list represents the minimum requirements of each category; obviously some professionals may choose to exceed these minimums.
So…Who’s Who In Hearing Healthcare?
OTOLARYNGOLOGIST/Ear, Nose & Throat Physician:
This individual is a Medical Doctor (M.D.) who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of all diseases of the ears, nose, and throat. The Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) physician also performs ear, nose, throat, head, and neck surgery. Minimum requirements for an Otolaryngologist include:
- 8-10 years college coursework and internships earning the Medical Degree (M.D.)
- 2-3 years college coursework and internship specializing in ear, nose, throat, head and neck surgery
- New York State License to practice medicine/surgery
- Certified/affiliated by national academy/organization (American Medical Assoc., Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, etc.)
An audiologist is a para-medical professional (not an M.D.) providing diagnostic audiological testing of the ear, hearing, and balance mechanisms. An audiologist also provides hearing rehabilitation services such as lip-reading training, aural rehab, and hearing aid dispensing. Minimum requirements for an audiologist include:
- 6-7 years college coursework and internships earning a Master’s Degree in Audiology
- New York State License to practice audiology
- Certified/affiliated by national academy/organization (American Academy of Audiology, American Speech and Hearing Association, etc.)
HEARING Instrument Dispenser/Dealer:
This individual is involved with the sale and fitting of hearing aids. They can provide a very basic and limited form of hearing testing (for amplification purposes only and usually free of charge since they are not licensed to perform such tests). Minimum requirements for NYS hearing aid dispensers:
- 18 years of age
- Registration of their business with the state (registration issued upon payment of registration fee, without and other requirements related to professional experience or competency in the field of dispensing hearing aids.)
- Some dispensers elect to meet requirements and receive certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences
With so much at stake, don’t settle for anyone less than the best hearing professional to fit you with your hearing devices.