How I got here
Being an audiologist in a High Street opticians
Audiologist and partner at Amplify Hearing, Christina Porter (pictured), speaks to OT about her varied role and working across a number of High Street optical practices
When the time came to research university degree course options, I looked into audiology mainly because it was an area that I had experience in.
Hearing loss is in my family; my gran had it so I grew up around that. When looking into the course and learning about what being an audiologist involved, I found it very interesting.
I enrolled at the University of Bristol on a four-year BSc degree.
The course was inspiring and really varied. As well as covering all of the anatomy and biology, we also studied the psychology of hearing loss and learnt counselling skills.
I have enjoyed a varied career since qualifying as an audiologist.
Initially on qualification, I locumed in the NHS and worked across several different hospital departments for around a year. After that I joined a national hearing aid company, which has standalone hearing aid retail outlets on the High Street. A couple of years later, I moved into a technical support role with a hearing aid manufacturer, before moving to Amplify Hearing where I have been for two years.
I speak to patients who have never had a hearing test before, yet they attend for a regular eye test, which is a well-known thing to do. Therefore, being more present on the High Street is a great way to raise awareness
A typical testing day for me begins at 9am. I work across a number of High Steet optical practices, some of which I visit on a weekly basis, others I visit once a fortnight.
Average appointments run between half an hour to an hour. We do a lot of new hearing test consultations for people who have never had a hearing test before. I may also have follow-up appointments with patients who have recently been fitted with hearing aids.
I think optometry and audiology are a good fit of services to offer under one roof because it is convenient for patients.
The opticians that I work in are very customer service focused so patients are aware of the high level of service they will receive. For me personally, it also works because it provides me with a very varied working day. I work with optometrists, opticians and support staff and from feedback I receive from colleagues, it adds another dimension to their role as well.
What I like most about being an audiologist is the patients.
I enjoy talking with and getting to know patients. Hearing can affect people in so many aspects of their life and hearing loss has many ramifications. Patient interaction is what I enjoy the most. I have worked in a number of different roles since qualifying and have always been fulfilled. I have a lot of friends who are audiologists and I can’t think of anyone who has worked as an audiologist and left the industry. That tells me that it is a good industry to work in.
I have a lot of friends who are audiologists and I can’t think of anyone who has worked as an audiologist and left the industry. That tells me that it is a good industry to work in
In terms of the next steps in my career, I would like to expand on what I am doing now, but also play more of a mentoring role to future audiologists.
There is a new national apprenticeship for audiology currently being established and being a mentor to a newly-qualified audiologist, for example, would be great.
Early diagnosis is key to identifying and treating hearing loss.
However, hearing loss is a very gradual and unnoticeable condition. Most people don’t realise that it’s happening and normally it’s other people around them who point it out. More audiology services moving into High Street opticians helps provide people wider access to hearing tests. I speak to patients who have never had a hearing test before, yet they attend for a regular eye test, which is a well-known thing to do. Through my experience, I believe the patient journeys in both optometry and audiology are distinctly similar. Therefore, being more present on the High Street is a great way to raise awareness. If we can get more people aware of hearing loss and its effects, that is a great thing.
- As told to Emily McCormick.