When Corry Wilcox, M.A., CCC-A, realized hearing was central to communication, she switched her career goal of becoming a high school English teacher to that of audiologist. That was more than 17 years ago.
“It became my mission to help as many people as possible attain better hearing,” she said. “Being a hearing healthcare practitioner means you do a lot of counseling. It’s a privilege when your patients feel they can open up and talk to you.”
As a result, Audiology Associates of Lancaster is a service-oriented center. The staff believes managing a patient’s hearing loss is a continual process and encourages them to come in routinely for maintenance on their hearing aids. Their full service lab allows them to do a lot of in-house repairs, which often reduces the amount of time patients spend without their hearing devices.
“Managing hearing loss is just so much more than hearing aids,” Corry said. “I feel it is my responsibility to educate not just patients but family members on what they can do to ensure the best possible communications.”
Staff such as Ashlee Love, HIS, make that possible. Ashlee, who started as a receptionist, saw the needs of the practice change and volunteered to get her Hearing Instrument Specialist license.
“What makes her a real asset to the practice is her excellent interpersonal communication skills,” Corry said. “Everyone comments on how wonderful she is. She’s the best first impression anyone could ever have.”
One of Corry’s favorite hearing device success stories involves an elderly wheel chair user who wore older hearing aids. He couldn’t hear his wife or daughter and had become very depressed. “I fit him with new hearing aids and when I turned them on, he broke down and started to cry,” she said. “Then his wife started to cry. He hugged me and said “thank you” so many times, I lost count. It was one of those times you say to yourself “this is why I do what I do.” I was so happy and thankful to be able to make that kind of change for him.”
Corry is also visible in the Lancaster community, especially in the local schools. “It’s so important to talk to kids about noise-induced hearing loss,” she said. “It’s hard for parents to always monitor how high the volume is (on their personal electronic devices). Kids are always surprised when I share with them what can negatively affect their hearing. Even a balloon popping beside their ear can permanently damage it.”
Other community outreach includes monthly visits with physician offices to make them aware of new technology and hearing conservation as well as work with Lancaster industry to educate leaders regarding noise reduction and proper use of ear protection.
Aside from the introduction of digital technology, Corry said the most significant improvement in hearing technology since she joined the field has been the success of open fit hearing aids and wireless technology. “It helps us manage diverse hearing loss that we haven’t been able to previously manage successfully.”
What does she consider the best part of her job?
“Truly, the part I enjoy the most is getting to know my patients,” she said. Not just talking about hearing loss but getting to know them and their history. Everybody has a story to tell. Some of these patients I’ve worked with for more than 15 years and we’ve laughed and we’ve cried together. It is always wonderful to help people hear, but getting to know them is a privilege.”