They may all be audiologists, but ask the professionals of Alliance Audiology why they like hearing healthcare and you’ll get three different answers. Dwight “Ike” Valdez M.A., FAAA is a self proclaimed “techno geek” who likes working with gadgets. Eliza Evans M.S., FAAA says audiology combines her passions of working with people and the science of anatomy. Nicole Bettencourt Au.D. was born with hearing loss and knows she can relate to the patients who walk through the door.
Besides the unique combination of personalities, the audiologists have close to 125 years experience in the hearing health profession. Libby Young, M.S., FAAA, the senior audiologist with more than 40 years experience, taught Eliza’s clinical fellowship and recruited Ike during his fellowship year.
“The four of us are a good match,” Eliza said. “Nicole can give us perspective from a person with hearing loss, Ike is the techie and Libby was one of first audiologists in the state. Everyone has an area of interest we can tap into.”
The combination works well for their patients, too. “Our mission statement is that we care about our patients and want to listen to them,” Ike said. “Each person that comes in has their own set of experiences, their own perspective on life and how they are performing with their current hearing levels. We try to take them from that point and help them understand how their hearing loss is having an impact and walk them through the process of better hearing.”
The audiologists agree that the stigma of wearing hearing aids is one of the most challenging aspects of working in hearing healthcare. “We have people who aren’t ready for hearing aids,” Ike said. “Our philosophy is to educate them, to be a resource to them and teach the family to know what to do with their hearing issues.”
Conversely, the best part of their job is helping someone improve their quality of life through better hearing. “It’s quite a lovely feeling to have someone say ‘I can go out to lunch with my friends now and hear what they say’,” Eliza said.
Ike recalled a patient who scheduled an appointment when he realized he wasn’t hearing well. “I tested his hearing and showed him he had a moderate hearing loss. He opted not to treat his loss, but came back the next year because he thought his hearing had changed. It hadn’t – but he’d been promoted at work and just couldn’t handle the phone, conference calls, face-to-face, and wining and dining clients. When I put the hearing aids on him, his face lit up and he said ‘this is like going from black and white to being in color!’”
The Concord audiology practice is also involved in community outreach. They are underwriters for the local public radio station, involved with the chamber of commerce and participate in the state health fair on aging.
“A lot of businesses out there are coming to audiology from a money angle,” Nicole said. “It’s nice to make money and profit from what you’re doing, but no one here is in it for the monetary gain. We’re in it to educate people, help them hear better and ultimately have better quality of life.”