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To AuD or not to AuD; perhaps a BSc!

unitron at sentex.net unitron at sentex.net
Fri Nov 22 17:21:44 EST 1996

I've been reading lots of hate mail etc on the AuD and I have an opinion 
on the matter myself that my really make the ---- hit the fan.  I think 
the entry to AuDiology should be the BSC, like physiotherapy and 
Occupational therapy.  Lets face it, we are not as exact a science as 
optometry which has the 4 year doctorate.  Consider the bulk of our 
field which is the fitting of hearing aids.  A fitting formula may be a 
matter of philosophy; it is not correct or incorrect like a vision 
prescription is. Optometrists most often are trying to refocus light on 
to an intact retina, which is like fitting conductive hearing loss. We 
are trying to do with a hearing aid what the natural outer haircells do 
in the cochlea.  This is like the optometrist trying to restore normal 
vision by refocussing light on a retina that is all scratched up!  Our 
fitting formulas for hearing aids are like trying to pick up needles 
with mittens on. 

An AuD for our field may be a bark up the wrong tree.  With the Masters 
degree we do not really have 6 to 7 years of study for Audiology; on the 
contrary, we have about 3 years, all of them segregated at the graduate 
or near graduate level.  Why not take these 3 years early on right away 
at the BSC level?  In this way I think Larry Humes at the U of Indiana 
is correct by focussing on the BSC.  This degree should have courses 
like Acoustics, Bioacoustics, Psychoacoustics, etc during the first 2 
years, with several hearing aid classes further on.  Electrophysiology 
can also be included, with a final year of clinical practicum.  This way 
the newly-minted Audiologist is ready to begin in clinical practice 
right away without the extra CFY year.  

We presently make the Audiology/SLP major a concentration like a major 
in philosophy or history or math, and then pile it on in a 2 year 
Masters degree course.  I think we should take a close look at a 
concentrated 4 year BSc degree crammed with courses in Audiology and 
call that person an Audiologist.

I realize that this view runs smack dab into the face of what ASHA 
has fought for years, namely, the establishement of a profession 
where the minimal entry degree is the Masters degree.  But what is 
the use of studying politcal science, history, etc in a liberal arts 
degree and getting a major in communication Disorders - and then going 
on for the Master's degree where we finally get to really study the 
profession?  Why not study the relevant clinical and academic topics 
right away?  Have physiotherapy and occupational therapy really suffered 
as professions because they did this?  I think not.  

The BSc could become the designated degree for ANYONE who wishes 
to fit hearing aids, including the fabled "Dispenser" who may 
have no degree whatsoever.  A BSc makes the road somewhere in 
between the Masters degree and the correspondance training 
offered by many Dispensing curricula.  

Perhaps the person who wishes to specialize in further areas should then 
go for the MSc or even the AuD for another 2-3 years.  That person would 
SPECIALIZE in say cochlear implants, implantable hearing aids, 
otoacoustic emissions, vestibular research, or anything!!  In short, we 
could do what the profession of pharmacology does: offer the BSc 
and then the Pharm D.

I just wanted to express an opinion on a matter that is volatile and 
also a matter for which an easy solution is hard to find. Sometimes the 
truth is halfway in between.  Sometimes the answer isn't A or B but C.  
Enough of my nattering epistle. Thanks for reading.

"NoBart" or tvenema at unitron.com

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