Clinical Practice

Why audiologists should fight to practice their “Why”

As audiologists, we need to be able to do what we do best, and in our own way. The public will see and know the difference.

From the age of 14 until I entered graduate school, I worked as a lifeguard on the side. I was paid to watch people, including one summer when I was a Walt Disney World lifeguard.  My job included not only saving people’s lives, but also providing great customer service for thousands of people every day. I became very good at watching for worst case scenario and then jumping in with 2 feet when the worst case scenario happened.

The tides of Audiology are changing. Some fear that we have met our worst case scenario. Over the past 20 years, we have heard a lot about how the Baby Boomers are coming and how this is a great profession to be in because so many people will need our help. Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones who heard this message. Every large business cell phone and small electronics company heard that message, too. Therefore, we need to stand out and do what we do best — help people hear with best practices and great customer experience.

I didn’t go to school to make money. I knew I wanted to help people. I did not go to business school and the only business training I have is my “Mouster’s degree” from my Disney University College Program. So, if I am in business, and I don’t know much about “business”, why is it working for me and my patients?

My practice is patient centered with the best clinical outcomes possible as our goal, NOT best possible return on the dollar as our goal. I believe a lot of audiologists not only agree with this, but practice in the same manner. Unfortunately, many audiologists are not able to choose how they approach patients, the amount of time needed for proper care and counseling, as well as the pricing structure. This needs to change. As audiologists, we need to be able to do what we do best, and in our own way. The public will see and know the difference.

In my private practice setting, I can choose the allotted time for each patient. I ensure that all hearing aid evaluations and fittings are scheduled with enough time to follow evidence-based practices. It involves:

  • In-depth history taking.
  • Extensive audiological testing.
  • Essential time for follow-up counseling.
  • Hearing Aid Demonstration Fitting followed by 2-4 week demo trial at no charge with 2 visits to see how they are performing, all prior to choosing and purchasing their hearing aids.

I know that my patients not only see the difference, but they also are telling others about the difference. This extra time helps me meet their needs and hearing goals. It also establishes trust. It is rewarding for everyone. The focus in this approach is surrounding patient needs, expectations, and goals. It is not a rushed sales approach where the visit involves me, a new stranger in their life, trying to convince them to buy an expensive pair of devices in less than an hour. I would never buy a car that I never drove, half the people I know say it doesn’t work, and I may have to take a loan out to own. Would you?

Audiologists should continue to keep with their true “Why”. If you have ever read any of Simon Sinek’s books about “The Why”, you will know that people are attracted to businesses who are in business for the right reasons. I am not in the business of making money, and yet my practice is doing very well.

I believe your “Key Performance Indicators” should be more about how many people you’ve helped, and less on how many sales you closed. We need to fight to keep practicing this way so the consumer knows the difference between a hearing aid store and our offices. The vibe is different, the service is different, and the patients feel the difference. Ultimately, the outcomes are positive and we have achieved our goals.

If you have questions about hearing loss and hearing aids, you are welcome to contact me at dheiman@helpingyourhearing.com and www.chicagoaudiologyandhearingaids.com or @hearingdrdawn on Twitter.

 

For further learning, an insightful TED Talk by Simon Sinek on how great leaders inspire action is below.

 

Previous comments
  1. This is an excellent, well written article Dawn, that describes my philosophy to a tee. I truly agree that by staying true to my original reasons for starting my practice in 1996, my practice will provide me with personal fulfillment as those that truly benefit from our services smile, thank us and return to engaged, connected lives. Thanks for writting and posting this.

    1. Thank you, Nancy, for the feedback and Congratulations on building and maintaining a 20 year practice!
      As you know, this is really all about people helping people and being your true genuine self. If you are wholehearted and doing what you know is right, others will feel that positive vibe and see you shine. It’s hard to not want to be a part of that!

  2. Thank you so much Dawn for such a wonderful article. When I’m at a stage where I’m asked for quantity over quality of service this couldn’t of come at a better time. Renews my faith in my career. I’m passionate about my work, as an audiologist for nearly 15 years. I believe in giving 110% to the client. But sadly as you have pointed out, more and more we are expected to be robots…..and minimise the time spent counselling. Which for me is the most important part of audiology and hearing aid fitting. It’s never been about the money for me but job satisfaction, when the client is happy, I know I’ve done my job well. Hopefully together audiologists will change and realise this is the way forward.

    1. You are so welcome, Elizabeth! Thank you for reaffirming this struggle that many are conflicted with. The more we love our jobs, the more we want to “work”. Changing the lives of others is powerful. I think many audiologists frequently change job locations because of burnout. They no longer are passionate about what they do because they are pushed into a box that is defined by those outside of Audiology. This is why I am also passionate about Audiologists working in an autonomous setting, especially in their own private practice.