My path to become doctoral student in Audiology

When I was 10 years old and on an 18-hour car ride to Disney World my parents continually brought it to my attention that if I blasted my CD player I was going to damage my hearing. While at Disney, I asked my father if he would go on one of the rides with me, but he refused on the grounds that his vertigo wouldn’t let him. I did not understand what that meant other than it caused my dad an uncomfortable dizziness. When I arrived home I decided to verify if what they were saying was true. To my amazement they were right, blaring my music could permanently damage my inner hair cells. I also found that vertigo is a type of dizziness due to a vestibular system disorder that causes nausea and trouble standing or walking. It was then that I realized I had an interest in the structure and function of the ear and a desire to help people like my dad. 

My fascination was sparked even more in high school when they offered American Sign Language as an option for a foreign language credit. In the class, our instructor showed us videos of children hearing their mother’s voice for the first time after cochlear implantation. It brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. What stood out to me was how one surgery and one device could completely change someone’s life. I knew then that I wanted to be someone who could open the door for people with a hearing loss.

In college, I expanded my knowledge of Communication Sciences and Disorders by completing my observation hours and participating in extensive labs. Completing my observation hours has allowed me to witness the joys and difficulties of working in the clinical setting. Observing hearing screenings, making ear mold impressions, and watching the programing of a patient’s hearing aids made me realize that the clinic is the place for me. I had the opportunity to witness the patience it takes to test children who are fussy as well as experience the joy of seeing someone hear sounds they hadn’t heard in years. These experiences prepared me for the responsibilities expected in a clinical setting.

Working at a private practice as an assistant allowed me to get hands on experience with amplification devices. On a daily basis I would inspect hearing aids to make sure they were working properly by cleaning them, changing the batteries, tubing, and receivers, as well as performing listening checks. I would also check in new hearing aids/ear molds that had been received, process the orders, and send in new orders. I would complete the hearing aid fitting paperwork for the Audiologist and input the audiometric information for programming. This experience made me want to become even more knowledgeable in the specifics of amplification devices. Moreover, watching Dr. Oliveira interact with her patients has taught me that audiology allows me to work with all age groups, help people on a daily basis, and build a connection with my patients in order to communicate more effectively.

Attending Lamar University has allowed me to expand my knowledge with amplification devices as well as working first hand with patients of all ages in a clinical setting. In addition I’ve had the opportunity to work with patients in other settings such as schools and the Special Olympics. Volunteering at hearing screenings has taught me how to work better with children when it comes to testing and conditioning. At health fairs I’ve educated people about hearing conservation and to be aware of noise exposure at loud levels. My interests for balance disorders, cochlear implants, and amplification devices has continued to grow as I’ve acquired more knowledge and experience in my field of study. Becoming an audiologist has always been more than just examining patients with hearing and balance problems, it’s about finding out what the patient wants and needs then assisting them in achieving their goals such as wanting to hear better, communicate more effectively with loved ones, live a more active lifestyle, or just be able to hear the television at normal listening levels.

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