What is the difference between a hearing instrument specialist and an audiologist?

Adapted from www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audiology

Hearing aid dispensers (Hearing Instrument Specialists, Hearing Aid Dealers) are not to be confused with Audiologists.

Hearing aid dispensers are “apprenticeship” trained and must pass a state licensing written and practical examination in fitting hearing aids. The minimum of a high school license is required. Hearing instrument specialists who are Board Certified by the NB-HIS National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences must have two years experience and pass a National Competency Examination. However, in the state of New Hampshire, Board Certification is not required to fit hearing aids.

The hearing aid dispensers’ primary focus is to sell hearing aids and work on a commission. Prior to 1988, hearing instrument dispensers in the United States fit patients referred to them by Audiologists and physicians who wrote prescriptions for hearing aids.

Audiologists are licensed professionals who hold a master's degree, Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.), or Ph.D. in the hearing sciences. Audiologists have a clinical/educational background that emphasizes diagnostic evaluation of auditory (hearing) and vestibular (balance) systems, amplification technology (especially hearing aids), hearing science, aural rehabilitation and assistive device fitting.

Audiologists may specialize in pediatric diagnostics/amplification, cochlear implants, educational audiology, intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring, vestibular and balance issues, and/or industrial hearing conservation. Audiologists are often in charge of Newborn Hearing Screening programs designed to identify hearing loss within the first 4 months of life.

Audiologists are trained extensively to evaluate and fit patients for hearing aids as treatment for various types of hearing loss. They also are trained in the evaluation and non-medical treatment of tinnitus (noises in the ears).


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