University of Akron Audiology and Speech Center | Hearing Center Interview
Erin Miller, Au.D., who came out of a background in music, has been the Coordinator of Hearing Aid Dispensary for the University of Akron Audiology and Speech Center for the past nine years. In addition to providing clinical services, she also works with the students.
“We really are able to spend the time necessary to help patients achieve outcomes and obtain good quality of life,” she said. “Here, our patients have the best of both worlds – the opportunity to work with doctoral level students along with the licensed audiologist who supervises them.
The University of Akron Audiology and Speech Center provides comprehensive diagnostic testing, fits assistive listening devices and hearing aids, and provides other services for individuals who want to protect their hearing.
“I became a hearing healthcare practitioner because communication is what connects us with other people and I wanted to help others with hearing loss continue that connection,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine someone not being able to hear music or communicate with others.”
Interaction with patients is one of the favorite aspects of her job. “The other thing I enjoy is that the profession is constantly changing,” she said. “It never gets boring. There’s always something new.”
Dr. Miller said the University of Akron Audiology and Speech Center focuses on providing patients with the information they need to make healthy decisions.
“Our patients are really smart about healthcare,” she said,“ and each one of them is unique. It’s not a one time appointment, it’s a journey. They’re not just going to get a device and leave. We want them to understand how we work with them to become successful.”
One of her biggest challenges is helping patients and other professionals recognize that better hearing is more than just wearing a hearing instrument. “We work with them and provide more information, training and rehabilitation in order to make them successful,” she said. “Some who come in have great amplification but didn’t receive the rest of the information. It’s more than just the device we’re fitting.”
One of Dr. Miller’s favorite hearing device success stories involves a four year old girl she fit with hearing aids when she was only 3 ½ months old. “It’s not often we’re able to fit them that young,” she said, “but her parents were very persistent. It’s amazing to see her now – her speech and language is above her normal hearing peers. She comes in and says “Dr. Miller, I’m so happy to see you.” It’s very rewarding to know you’ve had that kind of impact on someone’s life.”
University of Akron Audiology and Speech Center students assist the staff with hearing screenings at health fairs through out the community. They also host a hearing health awareness group at the library and provide hearing health information at other campus events.
Dr. Miller, who has been practicing for 28 years, said digital hearing aid technology is the most significant change in hearing technology since she joined the field – and she’s learned not to judge a book by its cover.
“It’s easy to think older patients wouldn’t be interested in technology, but they get it and they get it easily,” she said. “We have some 50 year olds who don’t want to deal with new technology and some 80 year olds who say “bring it on, let me see everything you’ve got.” We tell our students you have to deal with the patient themselves and not deal with any other factors.”