The following Editorial was published in the August 2016 edition of the
I recently retired after thirty-seven years as an audiologist. It has been interesting to me to see the evolution in the hearing aid field. When I was in my thirties the old school hearing aid dispensers were urging their children to get their degrees in audiology and continue in the family business. Now there are audiologists, me being one of them, urging their children to become a Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist (BC-HIS) and come into the family business. Why the change?
I learned very early in my career that there were many caring, intelligent, and ethical hearing instrument specialists that I learned a tremendous amount from. It always bothered me that so many audiologists were working for the destruction of hearing aid dispensers. I never thought I would see the day where they would work together and am so encouraged to see that happening now.
Numerous articles over the last decade have pointed to the pending crisis in audiology. The crisis is here. There are more audiologists retiring or leaving the field than are graduating from our Au.D.. programs. This, at a time when the US hearing loss population has doubled since 1984 and is projected to reach 53 million by 2050 (Kochkin, 2005).
When the income potential is equal between audiologists and BC-HIS in dispensing practices many will question if the additional years of expensive schooling will be worth it in the long run. Especially when you consider the other market pressures we are seeing such as decreasing average sales prices, big box stores, the lessening number of truly independent practices, and the constant introduction of more Personal Sound Amplifiers (PSAs) into the marketplace. These are all reasons that I recommended to my son, who already had a master’s degree in education, to become a HIS and then BC-HIS rather than going back to school to become an audiologist.
For many BC-HIS dispensers, this is their second career. So they come in with more real-life experience, work experience, and a different perspective than some who start out in the field straight out of an Au.D. program. This can be particularly helpful if they have had previous sales experience. Many audiologists come out of school with a very clinical point of view and assume that if they explain the loss to their patient and recommend hearing aids that the patient will buy because they will do what the doctor says. Anybody who has been in this field for any length of time knows that that scenario is not the norm. Our field has been waiting for years for the explosion of growth from the Baby Boomers. I am smack dab in the middle of that generation and I can tell you that we are different from the Greatest Generation. Baby Boomers tend to be skeptical, not as trusting, and want to research everything before making a decision. Growth is very possible but it is quite likely that you will need to reach out to that prospective client several times after you have your original evaluation to create the relationship necessary for them to choose to buy from you.
I have not been able to understand the push by some audiologists to have audiology techs. who can be helpful but whose scope of practice is much more limited than a dispenser who is BC-HIS. Why would you want an employee that can only help you extend yourself rather than one who can make money for you whether you are in the office or not? Please do not take what I say in this article as being disrespectful of audiologists. There are many audiologists that I have a tremendous amount of respect for. But there are also many BC-HIS dispensers that I have tremendous respect for and with the significant shortage of audiologists it makes sense to me to hire BC-HIS dispensers and just get on with helping people hear better and increase the capacity of your business. If you are finding the hunt for the right audiologist to be like searching for the abominable snowman then I urge you to check out BC-HIS professionals. You’ll be glad you did.
Laura Dennison, AuD, BC-HIS
Director, National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences
The Silent Auction winners at the 2016 Michigan Alliance of Hearing Care Professionals (MAHCP) 2016 Spring Conference, held in Mt Pleasant, MI. at the Soaring Eagle Resort & Casino, April 1 – 2, 2016.
They won certificates entitles them to waive the application fee and exam fee for the Board Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences. (Value $225.00)
Prior to the convention Kyle was in the group that sat for the BC-HIS certification exam (paper base) April 1, 2016.
The Silent Auction winners at the 2016 Minnesota Hearing Healthcare Providers, Inc. Annual Convention, held in Minnetonka, MN. March 4 & 5, 2016. They won certificates entitles them to waive the application fee and exam fee for the Board Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences. (Value $225.00)
Following the convention Jerry and Courtney were in the group that sat for the BC-HIS certification exam (paper base) March 5th.
From left to right:
Jerry L. Meinders, New Ulm, MN
Courtney Mitulichek, Richfield, MN
Scott Lau, BC-HIS, NBC-HIS Executive Council Member, Eau Claire, WI.
The Silent Auction winners at the 2016 Wisconsin Alliance of Hearing Professionals Annual Meeting, January 8 -9, 2016, Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells. They won certificates entitles them to waive the application fee and exam fee for the Board Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences. (Value $225.00)
From left to right:
Samantha Sikorski, Rice Lake, WI..
Joli Robinson, BC-HIS, NBC-HIS Executive Council Member, Rockford, IL.
Ross Gwynn, Eau Claire, WI.
The Silent Auction winners at the 2015 New England Hearing Healthcare Conference, November 19-20, 2015, at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, CT. They won certificates which entitles them to waive the application fee and exam fee for the Board Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences. (Value $225.00)
From left to right.
Judi Bergeron, Beauport Hearing Care, Gloucester, MA.
Laura B. Dennison, AUD, BC-HIS, NBC-HIS Executive Council Member, Shelbyville, KY.
Suzanne Rakov, Brookline Hearing Services, Brookline, MA.
NBC-HIS sponsored two items for the raffle at the Hearing Health Care Alliance of New York (HHCANY). A certificate to take the Board certification at no cost (Hearing Health Care Alliance of New York (HHCANY). (Value $225.00)
Winner Carl Case Jr. and NBC-HIS Executive Council Member Penny Peacock
NBC-HIS sponsored two items for the Ontario Association of Hearing Practitioners raffle at their annual event in Niagara Falls, Canada in May 2015. A certificate to take the Board certification at no cost and $250 Visa gift cards. The raffle added a little bit of fun and excitement to the event.
Mimi Davakos of London Ontario won the certificate for the exam worth $225
Eric Kwan won the Visa gift cards
NBC-HIS presents at the Ontario Association of Hearing Instrument Practitioners annual conference in Niagara Falls, Canada May 2015.