Van Doorne Hearing Care | Hearing Center Interview
Karen Van Doorne Nagelkirk, Au.D., FAAA loves helping people hear better so much, she had a difficult time with retirement.
“I retired in 2008 because I thought I was done with audiology – but I didn’t like retirement at all,” she said with a laugh. “I came back (to the profession) in 2010, bought a building, paid cash for all the equipment and started up a practice with my son.”
Dr. Van Doorne, who said she was first attracted to audiology for the mix of physics, technology and interaction with people, has been practicing for 39 years. Her son, Craig Van Doorne, B.S., BC-HIS, works with her. Dr. Van Doorne attributes Van Doorne Hearing Care’s 99 percent patient satisfaction rate to the mix of “wisdom and technology” she and her son bring to each patient.
“I love solving problems and, at this stage of the game, I have wisdom, which translates into better fittings,” she said. “Craig is very tuned into technology. It’s a nice mix.”
Van Doorne Hearing Care’s philosophy of patient care is to treat every client that walks through the door as if they are the first client the staff has ever seen. “Every person is different,” Dr. Van Doorne said, “so it’s important to listen to them very carefully and get it right the first time.”
She said her favorite aspect of being an audiologist, besides the people themselves, is solving problems. “Every day I say the same thing,” she said. “I want to be the person who solves the problem for that person. Ultimately, it’s about solving communication issues and making them happier so they can go on with their life.”
Occasionally that means being patient and persistent, like the time she fit a 3-year-old girl whose hearing loss was so severe, she had no language. “She wouldn’t let me put the earmold in her ear,” she said, describing how the young child acted out by hitting, kicking, screaming and crying. “I sat there with it in my hand for half an hour. Finally, she walked over to me and put her ear by my hand. Her mother said she loves her hearing aids now and doesn’t want to take them off. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do to be successful with each individual.”
Dr. Van Doorne is a hearing loop advocate and has written a book about how to buy a hearing aid that she distributes in the community. She also gives presentations to senior groups and school-aged children about decibels and how to protect hearing from noise-induced hearing loss. She said the advent of receiver-in-the-ear technology, hearing loops and Bluetooth connectivity are the three most significant changes in technology she’s seen since she became an audiologist.
“My joy is changing the perception of hearing loss one person at a time,” Dr. Van Doorne said. “Hearing loss is a healthcare issue, it’s not a purchase of a product. All of our continuing education is geared toward learning how to make that first impression a good one, keeping up with technology, and functioning with best practices, and in an ethical manner so it’s easy for them to do business with us. Our commitment to people is different in that regard because we believe we owe them that.”
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