Healthy Hearing conversation | Mary Carson Au.D.
Dr. Mary Carson of Clarity Audiology and Hearing Services says she feels fortunate and grateful to have chosen audiology as a career. However, it’s the residents of Ellicott City who may benefit the most from her answered calling. Thanks to the passion she has for the field and her commitment to “doing well by doing good,” her patients not only hear their best, they’re also participants in improving the hearing health of others worldwide.
That’s because Dr. Carson belongs to the Entheos Audiology Cooperative, a group of audiology professionals dedicated to sharing best practices among themselves as well as providing hearing healthcare services domestically and internationally. Entheos is committed to reconnecting audiologists like Dr. Carson to the meaning of what they do and highlighting those efforts in the community. Locally, Clarity Audiology uses the cooperative resources of the Cooperative to provide services to residents in need. Internationally the hearing center is collecting used hearing aid donations from patients for Dr. Carson to use on an upcoming mission trip to Guatemala to provide hearing aids to children.
Technology meets the golden rule
“We try to treat every patient with the respect and care we would provide to our own family members,” Dr. Carson said of her patient care philosophy. That includes offering a wide variety of products to meet patient’s unique lifestyle and budget needs. “We think it’s really important to keep patients up to date with best technologies available and continue to see them back routinely to make sure hearing aids are meeting prescriptive targets and any changing lifestyle needs,” she said. “We provide follow up care for up to five years. We don’t just fit them and say 'goodbye'.”
Dr. Carson believes real ear measurements (REM) and speech mapping are among the most important technologies in hearing healthcare today. “It’s been super impactful for making sure the hearing aid is doing exactly what we need it to do. Without that we are fitting blindly,” she explained. “It’s important we take measurements on every patient at every adjustment to make sure we are meeting prescriptive targets for the different input levels.”
Room to grow
After graduating from Towson University with her clinical doctorate seven years ago, Dr. Carson went into private practice using assets she purchased from a small audiology practice that was closing. In early 2018, Clarity Audiology will move to a larger office space more than double the size of their current office. The expansion provides more space for her growing practice as well as the infrastructure to take on nonprofit work.
“I really love the freedom of being able to create my own procedures and protocols to provide patients with the best care possible,” she said. “We can create the schedule and allow for more time for different types of appointments. For patients that require more care, we have a lot of flexibility that way. I also love the challenge and variety of wearing so many hats -- business development, marketing, staff development. I am grateful to be in the position I’m in now.”
Communication is priceless
Her patients are grateful for her care, too. One of her older patients who has been with her since she went into private practice travels two to three hours to see her. Although he is battling stage 4 lymphoma, he recently invested in new hearing aids and an assistive listening FM system.
“I received the most amazing thank you email from him saying how grateful he is,” Dr. Carson related. “He said ‘without your time and care, I would’ve been condemned to suboptimal hearing for the rest of my life.’ For however long anyone is here, communication and our ability to hearing and connect is so important. I’m thankful to be able to provide him with the best hearing possible.”
Service and care
Dr. Carson is concerned the new OTC Hearing Aid Act could devalue hearing healthcare professionals and create barriers for those who could benefit from their care. Still, she’s glad for the exposure the discussion will bring to the issue of hearing health. “That’s definitely a positive thing,” she said. “I certainly want to be able to provide access to hearing healthcare for everyone. I think we need to be very cautious and make sure it’s not taking practitioner and the professional fitting and care out of the equation. It’s super important that patients are still receiving the proper care and best practices regardless of technology level (of the hearing devices).”
Despite the struggles and challenges, Dr. Carson said audiology has been a very rewarding cause for her. “I’m very grateful for having a meaningful, positive impact in the lives of my patients,” she said. “Secondly, as a business owner, I take pride and joy to make a meaningful, positive impact in the lives of my employees as well.”
Small business owners like Dr. Carson not only contribute to the local economy, they also provide experienced, professional hearing healthcare. If you have hearing loss, find a qualified professional in your community by searching Healthy Hearing's online directory and begin your journey to better hearing today.