If you're in the market for finding a brand new hearing health practitioner, or if this is your very first time seeing a hearing health care professional, it can seem a daunting task at first. Like finding a general practitioner, you'll want to be sure that you've found a hearing health practitioner that listens to you, treats you with respect and is a veritable expert in his or her field. There are many ways to go about the process. Here are some steps for finding a great audiologist or other hearing health professional:
Do your research
Often, the best place to start is to look for referrals among friends and family members who live in or around your community. If a particular name keeps popping up, you'll know that this person is popular for one reason or another. But make sure to ask your sources why they like this particular health care professional. Is it because he or she is inexpensive? Or is it that she or he is very friendly? Find out each person's particular reasons.
If you've moved to a new community or do not have family in the surrounding area, ask your primary care physician to refer you to a hearing health provider that she or he trusts. Again, ask your doctor why he or she recommends this person. It's a good idea to know - there's a difference between your physician saying "We play cards together" or "I've heard great things about her from several of my other patients - they say she does a great job explaining things clearly."
Another must in the age of technology is to use the internet, which can be an especially important resource if you don't yet have a physician or other connections in your community. One great resource is Healthy Hearing, a site with comprehensive information about all things related to hearing loss and hearing aids. On healthyhearing.com, you can also locate a hearing center, clinic or hearing aid store near you, as well as read reviews of local practitioners.
What to look for
When choosing an audiologist or other hearing health practitioner, here are just a few things you should look for:
As discussed above, word-of-mouth recommendations are a very powerful tool - often much more effective than using anonymous review sites. If you hear over and over from family members and friends that a specific hearing health doctor puts them at ease - in an often very stressful situation - then this person might be a very good choice.
It's OK to have a discussion with your hearing health care provider about where that person got his or her degree, or how long they have been practicing. You likely want someone who is experienced, though that is definitely not a prerequisite to determine how comfortable they'll make you feel.
Personalized care means both the provision of services specifically for your needs as well as good bedside manner, which means being friendly, open and wiling to listen and explain things to you. Regarding personalized services, a good example is that if an audiologist is fitting you for a hearing aid, he or she should let you know that everyone's hearing is different and be willing to work with you for your specific needs.
Questions to ask yourself after your appointment
After your first appointment, make sure to do a quick assessment of the health care professional to see if you felt comfortable around him or her and if the person was really listening and responding to you as a unique patient. Ask yourself, did the clinician:
- Let me ask questions?
- Listen carefully to my questions? Or did he or she interrupt or seem impatient to have his or her turn talking?
- Ask me questions?
- Make me feel comfortable?
- Show respect for me in his or her actions, speech and tone of voice?
- Spend enough time with me, or did I feel like I didn't get adequate time to voice my concerns and ask questions?
- Ask about my preferences?
- Answer my questions using terms I understood? Did he or she rephrase or change word usage when I didn't understand?