By Erica Koehler, Au.D., ReSound Global Audiology
Take a moment to imagine all of the professionals that you encountered during your time as a student, and beyond. Now think of all of the pieces of advice, tricks of the trade, and bits of knowledge that you received from each of them. Seems nearly impossible, right? Well if that is the case, don’t worry, it’s not a sign of poor memory, it’s a sign of a well-rounded professional. The best audiologists are always learning.
The relationship between the hearing technology industry and university students facilitates the give-and-take process of learning and teaching. As audiologists in the industry, we share a common interest with students, and that is information gathering. We are always seeking information and applying our learnings to better serve the future of the profession. Having been a student extern and now employee at ReSound, I have experienced both sides firsthand.
The Global Audiology teams in Copenhagen, Denmark and Glenview, Illinois, both support universities through teaching and educational presentations. In this capacity, we are able to meet the next generation of audiologists and hear their ideas. We often gain a new perspective on the field of audiology and what students, the future of the profession, believe should come next from the industry. When talking with students, we are asked thought-provoking questions that prompt further investigation and sometimes shape the way we do our jobs. Students definitely keep us on our toes!
One example comes to mind. After a talk about directional processing, a student asked, “if the mics are not placed on a horizontal plane, is the processing in the hearing instrument able to compensate or is the directive lost?” I could not answer this question right there because I honestly wasn’t sure, but I did admit that I had seen hearing aids with mic placements that were more vertical than horizontal. I gave my thoughts on the matter, but promised to get back to the class about it. This led me to the acoustic department back at the office where I learned more about the mics and what is and is not possible in how they can be placed to still maintain a relatively good directivity index. In this case, I was asked a question as the instructor, but actually ended up learning something because I had to investigate the answer for the student. Once I found the answer and forwarded it on to the class, I made certain to include this in future talks on this topic. The student was able to ask this question as she knew the answer was attainable from an audiologist working in industry, who would have access to technical product information. Had I been from a different occupational setting, the student may not have thought to ask that type of question. A great question was asked and we all learned from it.
To continue to build these relationships, ReSound has formed an outreach team with the goal of sharing our knowledge of hearing aids, accessories and the hearing aid industry with students. Students are able to learn hearing aid technology from those who “live and breathe” hearing instrument technology and assist in its development. If students are interested in experiencing research and development, we offer internship and externship opportunities that provide a unique experience and insight into an often overlooked career opportunity. The world of hearing aid research and development can provide a unique experience for any audiology student, no matter where they see themselves working after graduation. I have heard students comment that they feel much more comfortable with real ear and test box equipment after their time here. Others say they didn’t realize how complicated hearing aids were and are surprised to see how much time and effort goes into creating them. Another great takeaway is the ability to see the business side of audiology. As much as we thrive on patient care, the reality is that most institutions that employ audiologists are businesses.
When industry professionals and university students come together, it’s a “win-win”!