Why see an audiologist?
Audiologists are the primary health care professionals who assess, evaluate, treat and manage hearing loss.
- evaluate hearing loss
- prescribe, fit and dispense hearing aids and other assistive listening devices
- provide hearing rehabilitation training such as listening skill improvement
- assess individuals with tinnitus (noise in the ear such as ringing)
Audiologists must have a graduate degree and, in Ontario, must be registered to practice with the College of Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists of Ontario (CASLPO).
At South Windsor Hearing Centre we take a comprehensive approach to assessment of your hearing sensitivity and lifestyle needs.
The Differences Between Audiologists and Hearing Instrument Practitioners (HIPs) in Hearing Health Care
The Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPO) has published a document outlining the differences between Audiologists and Hearing Instrument Practitioners. The following is an excerpt from this document:
The academic and clinical training of audiologists and hearing instrument practitioners differs significantly. For audiologists, the minimum educational requirement in Canada is a master’s degree or equivalent; which typically consists of 2-3 years of education after achieving a baccalaureate degree. Depending on the type of bachelor’s degree earned, an applicant to a master’s program in audiology may be required to do additional university coursework prior to admission. In addition to coursework, master’s students in Canadian audiology programs must also complete a minimum of 350 hours of supervised clinical practicum. This typical 5-7 years of baccalaureate and graduate degree university education prepares audiologists to exercise their profession using a high-level of independent clinical judgment and critical thinking based on evidence-informed practice when assessing and managing patients with audiologic disorders.
For hearing instrument practitioners, there is no standardized minimum educational requirement to practice across Canada and the credentials for hearing instrument practitioners vary significantly between provinces/territories. There is also no agreed-upon standard across Canada in the areas of regulation/registration; requirements for postsecondary education related to hearing health and hearing-aid dispensing; on-the-job training or demonstration of competence prior to licensing. Depending on the province/territory, an individual considering a career as a hearing instrument practitioner may or may not be required to pursue formal education and may complete a self-study program (which can be achieved in a few months) or a college or university diploma or certificate program. Some programs require a high school diploma for admission, while others evaluate applicants on a case-by-case basis. The college or university diploma or certificate programs are typically 2-3 years in length and focus on hearing testing and hearing-aid technology.
Scope of Practice
Both audiologists and hearing instrument practitioners conduct hearing tests for the purposes of dispensing hearing aids and other assistive listening devices. Despite sharing this similarity, the hearing instrument practitioner’s scope of practice is narrower than the audiologist’s. Hearing instrument practitioners will test peripheral hearing for the purpose of selecting, fitting and dispensing hearing aids and other assistive listening devices. Hearing instrument practitioners are typically not permitted to provide services to children (age range defined differently in various provinces/territories) as their scope is generally limited to adults and is reflected as such in regulation, where it exists.
Audiologists are uniquely qualified to assess, identify, diagnose (restricted in some provinces) and manage individuals with peripheral or central hearing loss, hyperacusis, tinnitus and balance disorders; and to select, prescribe, fit and dispense hearing aids and other assistive listening devices. Audiologists also receive extensive training in counseling and (re)habilitation, which extends their practice beyond the selection and fitting of amplification. Audiologists are trained to perform these services for all ages – from newborns to adults.