Mia did a Level 5 FdSc Hearing Aid Dispenser Apprenticeship at De Montfort University. Read all about what the role involves and how her apprenticeship has helped her
How did you get your job?
I gained good GCSEs in English, maths and science and a science at level 3 which met the entry requirements for the apprenticeship. When I was first looking into the hearing aid dispenser programme, I needed a company to take me on for placement throughout the course. I used LinkedIn to reach out and make connections with potential employers, and after some networking I made contact with my current employer.
What's a typical day like as a hearing aid dispenser?
My day includes hearing tests, diagnosing hearing loss, hearing aid fittings, repairs or adjustments, through to procedures such as wax removal. I'm constantly interacting with different patients with different needs. The majority of my day is spent in clinic face to face with patients, but I'm also involved in my own patient management behind the scenes as well as general admin work.
What part of your job gives you the most satisfaction?
One of the highlights of my job is watching the reaction to someone being fitted with hearing aids for the first time, coaching and guiding them through sounds they perhaps haven't heard for years and being there at each step throughout their journey. Fixing a hearing aid for a patient can make the world of difference to them - people are always so grateful, even if it's just a simple repair. On the other hand, you can't beat the satisfaction of a successful wax removal.
What are the challenges?
A hearing clinic can present challenges that sometimes require me to think outside the box as each patient we see has different needs. As hearing is subjective to the individual, good communication and rapport with my patients is key. The working environment can be quite fast paced, keeping you on your toes.
In what way is your apprenticeship relevant?
It prepared me for both the theoretical and practical aspects of the job. It provided me with the knowledge I needed, but also helped me put the knowledge into practice, as audiology is such a hands-on environment. As my lecturers were all qualified audiologists involved in different areas of the industry, whether they had a research background, NHS, paediatric or vestibular experience, this gave great insight into much valued knowledge across the spectrum of audiology.
How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?
Since starting my journey as a hearing aid dispenser, I have now progressed on to running my own clinics, but I am now also exploring more senior clinical roles having recently completed training in clinical leadership with my company. I am now the clinical lead of audiology for the two locations I work across. I'd love to continue developing my expertise within audiology through my day-to-day clinic space, but also by exploring further areas that may be slightly outside of my comfort zone. In my current position there is flexibility to expand responsibility further, even up to directorship of the business.
What do you wish you'd known before you started your job?
I wish I had been more aware of the possibilities for a career in audiology. I didn't realise the extent of the field, but also the demand for the services and the significant impact you can have on a patient's quality of life.
Also Specsavers have a minimum to be able to practice in hearing aid dispensing. The minimum is to hold a HCPC accreditation obtained by studying either a FdSc Hearing Aid Dispenser or BSc in Audiology.
What advice do you have for anyone else considering becoming a hearing aid dispenser?
- Don't hesitate to get stuck in and get some real life experience. Reach out to your local Specsavers store and ask about work experience in the audiology department.
- Use online resources to get some extra context and detail about roles within the audiology world. There are lots of roles that can lead people into audiology or the hearing aid dispensing apprenticeship as a career such as trainee audiology practitioner or hearcare administrator. Take a look at what Kyle has to say about his experience of an audiology apprenticeship with Specsavers.