November 9, 2010

Stop Saying That Most Audiologists Are Greedy and Overpaid!

Dealing with Audiologists can be frustrating sometimes, no doubt. Some may not be the right fit for you. I have changed Audiologists several times over the past few years.

But, I disagree with this notion that Audiologists are mainly out to make money and that they are all pocketing huge amounts of money. This is not true for all Audiologists. Most got in this business because of their love of helping others and their interest in hearing related issues. From talking with many Audiologists, it turns out that most do not get paid much, unless they constantly push hearing aids onto their clients and make a lot of sales. Personally, I think they should make more money or be able to make some extra money from selling hearing aids, because they are the ones who take the time to consult with us and to fit and program our hearing aids.

Do you realize how difficult it can be to become an Audiologist, at least in the United States? They have to go through a lot of training and schooling, similar to medical doctors. And, most Audiologists I know, unless they work for hearing aid manufacturers constantly pushing hearing aids, don't make more than $60,000, especially starting out. That is not a lot of money for years of intense training.

If you are going to get mad at people making lots of money off of you, get mad at the hearing aid manufacturers and pushy hearing aid dispensers.

Please read the following excerpts from Audiologists themselves describing the nature of the job and the pay:

From the Student Doctor Network Forum

"I saw a couple of question from someone about how often you have to sell things in the field. This is a very good question and I wish I would've asked this question myself. Expect to sale! It is apart of the business. Yes, I said business. People with hearing impairment need hearing aids, so of course you need to provide that for them. Unfortunately many practices today (private, ENT and especially hearing aid manufacturers) will push you to sell them because this is how they stay in business. Unlike optometry where they can make money solely from a visit alone, Audiologist CANNOT. You need someone to buy something from you to profit. This means you will find most jobs offering a base pay plus commissions. I will admit this can be good or bad. Bad because it can be stressful and out of your hands whether or not someone will buy a hearing aid from you. Some patients prefer to shop around for the best price. Some will buy an aid from you and return it meaning...no money for you. It can be good because, well the sky is the limit as to how much income you can generate. I made $109,000 at one time working for a hearing aid manufacturer. Excellent pay, but I hated my job with a passion. You often just do basic test, and than sale them the aid. The patient takes it and you never really hear from them again unless they have a problem. I hate working for hearing aid manufacturers for this very reason. It is also VERY sales driven, meaning you have so much pressure to sale, sale, sale. The money just wasn't worth it for me."

"Also...please me aware that unfortunately, too many ENT's and hearing aid manufacturers, Audiologist are very easily replaceable. I encourage you all to look at job ads, especially on places like audiologyonline. MOST of the jobs will hire an Audiologist, OR a licensed hearing aid dispenser, at the same salary. I've often wondered why I didn't just get my license to dispense rather than pay for my masters in audiology. Sometimes a hearing aid dispenser will accept a job at a lower salary on purpose just so they will be hired over you. I have seen this many times. They are the biggest reason Audiologist have such low pay and not as many jobs. If something isn't done about this, the problem will only get worse. An ENT I worked for once thought it was "ridiculous" Audiologist were now switching to a doctorate degree because "why pay someone more money to do something that someone off the street with no education can do for half the price." I believe this is also why so many other health care professionals don't respect audiologist as they should, because someone without a degree can also do the job. Yes, it is true, the degree offers us a wealth of information about hearing loss and vestibular issues, but most ENT's and private practices will only want you to do a basic hearing test. If there is a loss, you give a hearing aid, if there is something more refer to an ENT. I feel that we are way over prepared for the job they will one day do. I got into Audiology because I thought it was more of a medical model, once I graduated I was disappointed that I felt more like a glorified hearing aid dealer at times ."

"Lastly, salary! I will say salary is ok. I only have my masters in Audiology by the way so to me, my salary was acceptable, but never would I get an AuD to only be paid $60,000! That is insane!!! I started off at $46,000 when I got into the field. I now make $58,000. Please be aware that salary does also depend on where you live. My salary is for an Audiologist in the midwest. Cost of living here is ok, so I get by, plus my husbands salary helps ALOT. Thus far with the Au.D being introduced I have not seen that big of an increase. It really does also depend on the job. I know some Audiologist who make more than me, and some less. I have not seen anyone here however that makes more than $65,000. I would say in the midwest the average is about $60,000. That's fine for a masters but not at all for four years of school. I know SLP's making more than some Audiologist and that is just totally unacceptable to me." 

From I Hate My Job: American Academy  of Audiology:

Aside from passing the licensure exam one needs to undergo series and often painstaking demands for certification of this and that in order to become a legitimate audiologist. For instance, in India a full-pledged audiologist can only start practicing if he’s a member of Indian Speech and Hearing Association (ISHA) or the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI), otherwise they are bound to work in private clinics that caters speech and hearing services. The case is also the same in Canada. Audiologists are not allowed to work in certain provinces unless they register to a provincial regulating body in audiology.
Generally, in the United States anyone who aspires of becoming an audiologist needs to pass a national exam, acquisition of 375 hours in clinical internship, and an entire year of service as a non-resident staff of a particular hospital. And not only that, majority of the states in America supports continual education requirements, attested by the decision to make it a doctoral course whereas   before a Masteral degree in Audiology was enough.
What can be frustrating about this job is audiologists are mistakenly known as hearing aid dispensers. No offense meant but the requirements for the latter are less rigorous that even a high school graduate with 2-year experience in hearing aid can qualify doing this job. What’s more ironic is that audiologists are required to hold a Hearing Aid Dispenser license to legitimately dispense hearing aids. Had all the requirements they went through did not prove yet their qualifications to practice audiology?

Dianez commented:

Others that need a lot more [counseling, guidance, help, advice, etc.], are not getting it because the audiologist doesn't know sign language, doesn't have an indepth knowledge of the social and educational effects of deafness, has a narrow view that restoring hearing is the end goal of his profession, etc. Audiology is certainly a changing profession. I hope.

I think it is important that people who are deaf or hard of hearing (whether just recently acquired a hearing loss or not) understand that it is important to seek out information that your audiologist probably could not help you with or have the knowledge or understanding to help you.

It would be  helpful to have deaf and hard of hearing people who are "hearing specialists" or very knowledgeable about deaf and hard of hearing issues work at audiologist offices and hearing aid centers. We should have signing deaf adults and/or interpreters there to help communicate with clients who prefer to sign. They could be counseling, providing unbiased information, support, and understanding. I know that if I were to ever get tired of working in the school system, I will propose this idea to some hearing aid dispenser and audiologist offices. I would not mind providing extra support to those wondering what to do and how to feel about the information the audiologist just gave them. Like Dianrez, I hope the audiology is a changing profession.

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20 comments:

  1. Audiology as a profession should be held to the same standards as physicians, opthalmologists and psychologists...that their profession be completely separate from selling and dispensing medicines, devices, etc.

    Unfortunately, a lot of the time it isn't. Part of the salary is made up by selling. Also, there are fields where the program of study is just as long and demanding, but the salary is just half that of the audiologist.

    The status of the audiolgist is often determined by their patients. Those that buy devices and disappear are saying all they need is the device, not the services, counseling, therapy or handholding. Others that need a lot more, are not getting it because the audiologist doesn't know sign language, doesn't have an indepth knowledge of the social and educational effects of deafness, has a narrow view that restoring hearing is the end goal of his profession, etc.

    Audiology is certainly a changing profession. I hope.

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    1. As an audiologist with a doctorate degree and has been in the field for 20 plus years, I can say that my focus is always has been on the patient's unique individual needs. Some patients want and need more counseling, education and hand holding while others just want the hearing aids and think the office visit should be 10 minutes. I have my patient's routinely return for 6 month checks but more frequently if they are having trouble hearing in various enviornments. I spend a great deal of time counseling them in the various environments they may struggle. I also counsel them regarding assitive strategies that may help them where the hearing aids themselves are limited. Also a great deal of time is spent educating patients and their families regarding realistic expectations. I have a very loyal following and have built up a good sized practice over the years. I am a salaried audiologist with an above average salary and prefer not to make a commission or bonus. I believe this allows me to focus on the patient and and their unique needs and as such fit hearing aids from basic to very advanced depending on the patient's needs. There are however, a number of audiolgists and dispensers out there where the sale is their focus and that is unfortunate. I would add that while it would be great to have a knowledge of sign language and deafness counseling or rehab, most of our patients fall in the category of mild to severe losses which would not necessarily need those services. I will say most audiologists give away a lot of services for free. There are many tests, counseling etc.. that is not reimbursed which leads to higher costs for hearing aids to make up for those services that can not be billed. I am not saying I do this, but I will say there are many times I spend much more time with a patient and will only be reimbursed for a hearing test which for medicare is about $38. This may be 45 minutes of time which is really under paid for the time spent. Fortunately, my pay is not related and therefore I can spend the appropriate time with each patient

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  2. I went to my audiologist today. When I made my appointment with my regular audiologist, I was told that she no longer works there. Real bummer, I really liked her. She took her time, explained everything to me and made me feel like she was helping me. All in all it has been a great relationship - but now she's gone. So, I met my new audiologist today, whose is a major partner in the firm (large firm). I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. A couple of adjustments, added FM +mic program so I can hear better in class and out the door I went. I got an idea why my "good" audiologist isn't there any longer - maybe too much time with the clients. Got to keep that line moving and see as many clients per day. Oh well - since I am going through VR - guess I have to take what's given to me.

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  3. I had an audiologist that DID try to earn as much money as he could off his clients. He'd have parents take their kids for ABR's when it wasn't necessary (taking advantage of the Medicaid system basically), sell used hearing aids for full price, purposely screw up earmold impressions/have earmolds made more frequently for clients than necessary (new molds every 2-3 months for older kids), etc. Our local office finally caught onto his schemes and he's moved back to his hometown (last I heard, he's working at a senior citizen's center... hum). Hell, he was FIRED from the Audiology department at our state's university for his scam. But my current audie is awesome!

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  4. My daughter's audiologist is amazing. He spends so much time making sure that her settings are correct, going so far as to do extra steps that he KNOWS he will not be paid for, because even though the CI companies have "presets", he believes that kids get better results the other way. He takes the time and effort, even though he isn't being paid, because he cares enough to want the kids to hear better.

    When we were in St. Louis, we saw another audi. They were connected to a very good school. They changed Miss Kat's programming strategy, and when we asked why, they said "Well, that's what we use." So, Miss Kat's regular audi called the implant company, searched through data and research, and even spoke to adult users, to find out if he should be changing the settings he uses. Again, no one is paying him to do that, he just cares.

    He has a AuD.so he has spent a lot of time and money devoting his life to audiology, and I know for a fact my daughter would not be where she is today without him.

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  5. Mine never charges me for new tubes. He's OLD and way past his retirement age. He continues to do his job as an audiologist because he cares. I never had an audiologist that was greedy. I'm sure there's some out there. But, it don't mean they are all greedy.

    Candy~

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  6. Same thing for me, Candy. My audiologists were great in helping me and getting the things I need for my hearing (e.g. mold, tubing, repairs, etc). This whole "greedy audiologists" farce as of late is really ridiculous if not laughable.

    *shakes head*

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  7. There's nothing wrong with people earning an honest living by providing services to deaf and hard of hearing people. "D"eaf people often accuse audiologists, speech therapists, cochlear implant manufacturers, the AG Bell Association, and others for being in it just for the money. Those same "D"eaf people also think it's very wrong for professional organizations like the American Academy of Audiology or, again, the AG Bell Association, to have a paid lobbyist or to receive donations from corporations or foundations that support their causes, which said "D"eaf people perceive as "anti-deaf" and "anti-ASL."

    How about "D"eaf people getting SSI or SSDI for years and years and years? How about them getting free college educations, up to PhD and even an MD? How about "D"eaf people getting discounts for transit cards or free admissions to state and federal parks?

    but back to audiologists. Some of us have bad memories of painfully tight headphones pressing against our delicate ears, and of being assaulted with pure tones that made our head ring like a bell and our eyes cross. Some of us get our annual dose of frustration not being able to understand a single one of those same old words (baseball, airplane, toothbrush, ice cream, etc.).

    but others of us love our hearing aids and look forward to getting them. My school has a fabulous audiologist with an Au.D., who is an RID certified interpreter, fluent in ASL, and has many "D"eaf friends. She not only serves the kids in my school, she also serves the staff by making them new ear molds, fixing tubes, signing her name on discount transit applications, and all for no charge.

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  8. I absolutely love my audiologist, and I feel really lucky that I have somebody who really cares. I really admire the people who take the time to study and fulfill all of the requirements to become an audiologist. There are always going to be bad apples but we shouldn't judge the profession based on them.

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  9. We appreciate you telling the truth about Audiologists and that they are qualified to help those with a hearing loss. As Audiologists, we know how difficult the job is and how frustrated patients can be because they don't understand the process. Like Megan says, there will be bad apples in any profession, but that doesn't mean that the profession should be stereotyped as a whole.

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  10. I am an Audiologist who is also currently in school to become an Interpreter. If anyone know of another Audiologist who is also an Interpreter, please email me at jactaylor22@gmail.com.

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  11. I appreciate the comments coming from Audiologists -- helps clear the air concerning my experiences. But I must say that sometimes I feel that I'm seen as a pair of ears with money coming out of them. It disturbs me that when I go for a hearing test, the audiologist refuses to reprogram my aid to match my new hearing profile (unless I insist -- why should I have to insist?). Wasn't my digital aid sold to me (by the same shop) with the understanding that it could be reprogrammed as my hearing changed? I'm told that there are so many better devices available now, but I know that my hearing loss has not yet gone beyond the capabilities of my current aid. It's difficult for me to see my audiologist as someone who is interested in helping my hearing loss -- and not the next sale. I want to remain loyal, and I'm willing to pay for work performed, but I feel as if I'm being pushed out the door... to the next audiologist down the street.

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    1. Hi Philip, I hope you have found a new audiologist in the two years or so since your posting. You should definitely not have to insist on adjustments to your hearing aids if there has been a significant threshold shift of 15dB or more at any frequency (10dB or less is within the limits of test-retest reliability). This is standard practice in New Zealand and I would not dream of sending a client out of the door if their hearing had changed and they were consequently struggling. If time was not available at the testing appointment I would book a second appointment free of charge (we do not charge clients for annual reviews or follow ups BTW).

      Your audiologist should only really encourage an upgrade of your hearing aids if 1)prescriptive gain targets can no longer be met with your hearing aids, 2)they are faulty 3)they are not compatible with an accessory that could genuinely improve your quality of life (e.g. remote microphopne or phone streamer) or 4) your hearing aid is 6+ years old AND shows signs of diminished quality (i.e. does not meet manufacturers specifications as determined by HIT test box measures).

      Sadly, some audiologists may not be familiar as they should be with older fitting software. There are only so many program one can be familiar with, but a little bit of pre-appointment preparation never hurts! Investing in a new pair MAY save you from having to endure poorly adjusted aids. However, in this instance you could always request the involvement of a manufacturer audiologist/sales rep, whose responsibility it is to be a walking encyclopaedia for that brand and should be available to sit in on the appointment and guide the audiologist as needed.

      All the best,

      Audiologist
      NZ

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    2. What Philip described is EXACTLY what I went through at my last visit to the Audiologist clinic that sold me my hearing aids. Original audiologist left, new replacement just wants to sell me new instruments even though I've got plenty of volume left on my current ones. I just want them to adjust my current aids to the new changes noted in the hearing test! But no-- it's "old technology" (although they were top of the line five years ago, costing me $7k then) and she "can't really do much with them." Can't or won't? When I told her I can't afford new aids now, she could not wait to rush me out the door.

      I'll never go back. I just wish I could buy something that I could program myself and not have to be subjected to this treatment by high-pressure salesmen in lab coats.

      Wes

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  12. I love my audiologist and I have to travel 2 hours one way just to see her. She genuinely cares and has gone out of her way to make sure that I am hearing well. I have gotten phone calls to check to see how things are working out. She works as part of a large hospital.
    I just recently had to change hearing aids as my older ones just weren't compatible with my FM system. Currently I am a substitute teacher looking for a permanent teaching job. The FM is a great help to me.

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  13. I am a current AuD student, working on the first of four long years in graduate school. Two observations: 1. The job is extremely complicated if it is done properly (from testing to fitting and programming aids). 2. Sometimes it can be hard for a patient to trust and audiologist, because so much of what they do is highly technical. It's like taking your car to a mechanic. Most people don't know how to work on their car, so when something goes wrong they have to trust someone else to fix it and not overcharge them. But when you find a good one, you stick with them! I know many patients in our clinic that drive 2 hours and have been seeing the same Audie for over a decade.

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  14. The online Audiologist Jobs Zjob4u offers paid for individuals with a lot of new ways to make money from residence, and possesses come to be increasingly popular in a variety of fields involving perform.

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  15. Audiologists will certainly work in various employments. all can operate with the health care industry.Within This industry,
    audiologists will be found in hospitals, physician’s offices, AND audiology clinics. several will probably even own their practice. more information click here

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  16. Most audiologist are idiots.

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Keep it civil.