How to Choose a Doctor of Audiology Degree + Online Option

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This article will discuss the Doctor of Audiology degree program, some of the courses that are taken during the program, and what career doors will open upon graduation. It will also provide details of an online Doctor of Audiology program that you may want to consider.

What Is a Doctor of Audiology?

The Doctor of Audiology, or Au.D. degree, qualifies someone to become an audiologist. The program develops highly skilled professionals who can diagnose, rehabilitate, and deliver various other services that relate to balance, hearing, tinnitus management, and other audiological issues. Graduates will be able to diagnose any hearing loss and fit devices to assist with hearing. A strong emphasis of the Au.D. is on clinical learning experiences. That said, there is also a strong research element of this program.

Before 2007, a master’s degree in audiology was required to practice as an audiologist, but this has now been replaced by the Au.D. In certain states, further licensing requirements are also in place before someone can become a clinical practitioner. During the degree, you will generally have to undertake clinical and didactic instruction, as well as an externship, which is comparable to a medical residency.

While each school can set its own curriculum, it is common to see at least some of the following subjects as part of the core:

  • Assessment of Audition and Auditory Disorders
  • Hearing Aids and Amplification
  • Audiological Assessment
  • Amplification
  • Speech and Hearing Science
  • Diagnosis of Hearing Impairment in Infants and Young Children
  • Advanced Aural Rehabilitation
  • Vestibular Assessment and Management
  • Educational Audiology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Auditory Anatomy and Physiology
  • Electrophysiology of Audition
  • Audiological Assessment and Rehabilitation

Why Earn a Doctor of Audiology?

With an Au.D., you will be able to evaluate patients who have problems with their balance, hearing, or ears in general. Based on these evaluations, you will be able to diagnose them, and determine and administer the appropriate treatment to improve their hearing and quality of life. There is often a strong focus on the treatment of tinnitus, which affects many people, and also in the fitting and dispensation of hearing aids.

Furthermore, you will be able to provide counseling to people and their families on proper listening and communication skills, including lip reading and sign language, as well as hearing technology. Lastly, you will likely be involved in studies about hearing loss and hearing loss prevention.

You will also learn how to use a wealth of devices needed to test balance and hearing abilities. This will allow you to measure levels of hearing loss, and also to identify the root causes of the problem. Based on this and psychological information, you will determine proper treatment methods, such as cochlear implants and external hearing aids. Additionally, you may also be part of a multidisciplinary team that teaches lip reading and sign language, for instance. You will also treat patients who have balance problems, such as vertigo. As part of this, you will also teach exercises and physical movements that can help relieve symptoms.

Sometimes, and depending on the degree, audiologists specialize in certain population groups, or on educating the public. Others focus specifically on workplace hearing loss. Mainly, obtaining a doctorate degree increases job security and enhances your chances of taking on a position of leadership, which can give you a great deal of personal satisfaction. Furthermore, salaries are very good, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics having reported median earnings of $75,980 per year for audiologists as of May 2016.

Online Option for Doctor of Audiology

A.T. Still University

A.T. Still University (ATSU) offers a post-professional doctor of audiology program, although they have stopped accepting new applications as of June 30, 2016. This is because the degree is in the process of being developed so that it can once again become relevant to current legislation and professional needs. The degree has been designed to help practitioners improve their scope of practice, mainly to ensure the future of audiology and that the profession as a whole is protected.

Once redesigned, the program is expected to be of greater relevance to global students. It is expected that enrollment will soon become available again. It will be delivered through the Arizona School of Health Sciences and will be available 100% online. Students will be able to access new skills and knowledge to improve their clinical practices, while remaining employed at the same time.

The curriculum is designed around the needs of each individual student and his or her personal interests. It is delivered through asynchronous learning by a team of highly experienced faculty members. Graduates are respected for their leadership in practical skills, and also in their experience as scholars to further develop the profession as a whole.

ATSU is one of the most respected universities in the world with regards to audiology education.  It is recognized for its excellence by the Audiology Foundation of America (AFA), which has also enabled the school to start the AFA Balance and Hearing Institute on site. This provides opportunities for scholarship, community outreach, and more.

The core curriculum of the degree includes:

  • Professional Roles and Responsibilities
  • Auditory and Vestibular Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology
  • Infection Control
  • Tinnitus
  • Advanced Acoustic Immittance
  • Otoacoustic Emissions
  • Introduction to Auditory Evoked Potentials
  • Advanced Auditory Evoked Potentials
  • Specialized Electrophysiological Evaluations and Intraoperative Neurophysiological Monitoring
  • Assessment and Management of (Central) Auditory Processing Disorders
  • The Dynamic Human Ear Canal
  • Hearing Aid Verification and Troubleshooting
  • Assistive Listening Devices
  • Advanced Hearing Aid Technology
  • Cochlear Implants
  • Audiological Management in Heritable Syndromes
  • Pediatric Audiology
  • Auditory/Vestibular Pathologies
  • Radiography in Auditory/Vestibular Diagnosis
  • Pharmacology and Audiology
  • Counseling and Aural Rehabilitation
  • Early Hearing Detection and Intervention
  • Educational Audiology
  • Prevention of Hearing Loss and Disability
  • Vestibular Evaluation Procedures
  • Vestibular Rehabilitation
  • Advanced Vestibular Evaluation Procedures
  • Practice Development: Business Planning and Accounting
  • Regulatory Aspects of Healthcare Practice
  • Practice Development: Marketing and Advertising
  • Practice Development: Personnel Management
  • Introduction to Continuous Quality Improvement
  • Ethics and Leadership
  • Preceptor Training
  • Hearing Loss and Healthy Aging
  • Investigative Audiologist

Upon completion of your Au.D., you can work as an audiologist, an audiology researcher, or an audiology educator in offices of health practitioners, in private practices, in offices of physicians, in private, state, and local hospitals, in private, state, and local educational facilities, and in health and personal care stores.

Summary

By obtaining a Doctor of Audiology degree, you can greatly increase your career options. New regulations also decree that a doctorate degree is required in order for you to practice as an audiologist. By completing this degree, you can work clinically, improving the quality of life of many people across the board. You can also decide to focus on research, or become an educator to ensure there will be new audiologists to look after the next generation.

Additional Resources

References

Sady Brown
Written by Sady Brown
Sady Brown is Editorial Strategist for Nogre.com