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What They Didn't Tell Me In Grad School (formerly " Are Audiologists Generous?" )

HearWHAC hearwhac at netins.net
Sun Aug 17 21:46:13 EST 1997


Susan M Lopez wrote some very penetrating, honest words from her heart:
> I interviewed for the job. <snip snip>
> They offered
> 30K and full benefits.  I said OK and signed on the dotted line.
> It was horrible.  There were no patients.  No eqipment.  I didn't like my
> supervisor.  The ENT was a great guy, but he only sent me about 3 patients
> a week.  I had been told the hospital wanted to start selling hearing
> aids...turns out, they had no clue the start up costs would be so high to
> do anything "decent" (real ear, impedance, etc.).  They had a booth, and
> audiometer, and me.  I quit after two months.  I decided I would rather
> deliver pizzas. 

Susan, my family has been in the hearing aid industry more than 50 years
and it is a wonderful world, believe me. (My Father often said, "You
don't have to be crazy to sell hearing aids, but it helps.") I, too, am
very concerned about the future. I am mainly concerned about what is
going to happen to the hearing impaired. Let me share some of my
concerns with you and maybe we can find a solution.

1) I have poor eyesight. Both of my grandmothers went totally blind, so
I am very sensitive about it. I go to an eye specialist that a) I can
call "doctor," 2) who has been very highly trained by outstanding
professors who are recognized specialists in their field and 3) s/he has
spent years in a residency program being observed by practicing eye
specialists. Yes, the vision impaired are given excellent care by very
competent people.

2) I have more than 3,500 friends who have poor hearing. My family has
worked very hard for more than 50 years to serve these people well. We
attend many seminars every year to learn new techniques in fitting
hearing losses, we invest many thousands of dollars each year in new
equipment. (This month we are spending more than $2,000 on the latest
upgrade to our 6500Z that will allow us to do the latest real ear
verifications for non-linear hearing aids. Next month we hope to
purchase three new portable real ear/hearing aid test devices that will
also verify by real ear measurements the performance of non-linear
hearing aids (close to $25,000). These will replace three real ear
machines that have been "state of the art." My two sons (third
generation) manufacture hearing aids and they are very picky about
quality!

3) I believe I have made a very major mistake and your post just might
verify this! I have placed my faith in our university audiology programs
and I'm afraid this may be a mistake! I have chosen to only employ
audiologists in our practice! (I am not an audiologist -- too old -- my
masters degree is in another field.) Two of our three audiologists have
been in practice for many years. Both are "self taught." 

4) The students graduating from our university audiology programs today
are absolutely unsuited for the real world! Is there a solution? Yes, I
believe the problem could be solved:

A) Get rid of 200 graduate audiology programs! A very, very large
segment of the population has vision impairments that must be treated
regularly by a medical specialist. (I see my Opthalmologist every year.)
There are only a few Opthalmology programs in the US. A very, very tiny
segment of the population has hearing loss. (I believe that only 8
hearing aids are sold in the US each year for every 1,000 persons. This
is one of the highest and best figures of any country in the world.) We
have hundreds of audiology programs, none of which are any good! (Story:
I went to a graduate school in another profession that had only 90
students in its three year program. I took summer courses at another
graduate school that had more than 300 students. There was no comparison
between the two schools. A graduate school with only 90 students cannot
have as many excellent faculty members as a graduate school with 300
students.)

SO, THE FIRST PARADIGM WE MUST GET RID OF IS "A GRADUATE PROGRAM WITH
LESS THAN 75 AUDIOLOGY STUDENTS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO EXIST!"

B) You were not taught this in graduate school, but hearing aid dealers
are pretty good people. I contend that if you ever have a car break down
in a strange community in the middle of the night and you need help,
look in the "Yellow Pages" under hearing aids and call any of the
dealers and you will find they will help you. 

SO, PARADIGM TWO - "BELTONE AND MIRACLE EAR SALES PEOPLE ARE CROOKS!"
Get rid of this paradigm!

C) Back in the days when the only place you could get a hearing aid was
from a hearing aid dealer, you would find that about half of them were
female and the other half were male. In the old days, all of the
training seminars, conventions, etc. were attended by 50% women/50% men.
The officers of the National Hearing Aid Society and state societies
were usually 50/50 gender balanced! One of the scariest things (for me)
right now is watching audiology become 95% female! I'm really not a
sexist, but females do work for less and the male ENT's (ever hear of a
female ENT, they are rare - my daughter-in-law chose not to become an
ENT because of the raunchy sexism in their profession) do hire "sweet
young things" based on how short they wear their skirts. (I kid you not,
several years ago an ENT in our city wanted to share an audiologist with
us and this was his criteria for hiring!)

SO, PRADIGM THREE THAT NEEDS TO GO - "RECRUIT ONLY FEMALES INTO
AUDIOLOGY PROGRAMS"

D) The universities are GUILTY of keeping audiologist's income down!
This dates from back in the old ASHA days when the "ivory tower people"
idealized that hearing aids should be sold at "invoice cost"! I have
long thought that the kids that always did poorly in math in school were
the ones that became professors in the graduate audiology programs. Let
me give you a simple math problem:

How much money should an audiologist earn? (Or, How much money do you
want to earn?) Write it here    $___________ How much do you have to
earn on each hearing aid sold if you sell 200 hearing aids in a year?
$_________ This is very simple math that is not taught in the
universities. (Annual Income divided by number of hearing aids sold in a
year equals amount of net profit needed per sale.)

If you answer $80,000 (I would hope this would be a minimum - I want the
person who takes care of my hearing to be worth more than this!), you
would have to average $400 net profit on each hearing aid sold. And this
does not include the cost of the hearing aid, the rent, the secretary's
wages, the insurance, the equipment (see above), etc. will add to the
cost.

PARADIGM FOUR, "UNIVERSITIES SHOULD TEACH THEIR STUDENTS TO SELL HEARING
AIDS CHEAP!"

E) You were not taught anything about business in your graduate school
program. (Accounting 101, 102, How to Read a Balance Sheet/Profit Loss
101, 102, etc.) That's like sending you out naked! Undoubtedly this is a
result of the fact that most, if not all, faculty members in the
university audiology programs have had no real world SUCCESSES
dispensing hearing aids. (In fact, I suspect many of them have failed,
if the truth were known.) Somehow, this is going to have to change if
the graduates are going to succeed in real life!

PARADIGM FIVE THAT MUST GO: "DON'T TEACH ANY PRACTICAL SUBJECTS IN
GRADUATE SCHOOL - ONLY THE THEORETICAL AND ABSTRACT STUFF"!

F) Audiology is at a cross-roads without any direction signs. The
universities have failed.  I only hope that someday I will get to call
the person who prescribes the hearing device to aid my impairment
"doctor" just like I presently call my eye doctor. And I hope that
person is as well trained - by competent, SUCCESSFUL persons! And this
is not going to happen until we close more than 200 audiology
departments and limit the number to no more than three GOOD ONES - each
with a student body of a minimum of 75 students and 15 SUCCESSFUL
faculty members who have made it in the real world! We need to get rid
of the losers. And I do want to see the day when the hearing impaired
can call the person who takes care of their hearing "Doctor" and it is
not some phoney-baloney thing they got out of a box of Cracker Jacks
(misspelled deliberately). I want the AuD to really mean something!
(This entitlement nonsense is a bunch of crap. Whoever heard of a "self
assessment" questionaire that reports "experience" as having anything to
do with competency. I would have no problem with AuD's being granted on
a basis of competency examinations, but not by plunking down your $750.
The hearing impaired deserve more than this, believe me!

WOW! I believe this may be a new record for bionet.audiology. I sure
hope Jeff doesn't set up a new rule that Paul can't post more than 25
words at a time in the future. <g>

Paul Woodard ;-)

Oh yes, something else my Father said many times was "Our job is to help
the hearing impaired and to try to get along with the rest" and also,
"I'm not going to let any audiologist tell me how I should run my
business." And he didn't. That's how he survived!



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