For me, Audiology was a hidden gem, a real needle in a haystack. Something that came into my life completely unexpectedly, and changed everything. It was the grandest most meaningful moment of serendipity, which gave sudden clarity to the outlook of my future life; the veil had dropped.
Before I found Audiology, I felt very lost; literally stumbling through life on my two left feet. I didn’t have much motivation or anything that really pushed me or even called me. From a young age my heart was set on becoming a doctor, but after pushing myself to study the required A levels I wasn’t convinced it was a career I could cope with. However, something about the role really inspired me. I wanted to be able to aid people, helping them in a positive impactful way. I wanted to make people smile and leave feeling happier and lighter. Additionally, I wanted a role in my life that I would be happy to wake up to everyday, really committed and dedicated; I can now say that I have found that role.
Audiology made a frequent appearance when I was searching for a degree other than medicine; first, a classmates’ sister was an Audiologist, then later, whilst researching careers in the healthcare field, and again when comparing healthcare degrees universities were offering. I didn’t have much knowledge of the subject, but felt the urge to discover more, hence I attended an open day at Aston University. Sitting in that room listening to Claire’s story of what pushed her into Audiology, was the moment I felt that Audiology is my vocation. I rang my parents straight after, telling them I knew what I wanted to study, and THAT was the first moment I began to really find and understand myself.
I have just completed my first 11 weeks as a first year undergraduate Audiology student at the University of Southampton. Saying it, still feels very surreal. The time has truly flown by, but it’s been the best 11 weeks I could have ever imagined.
“Happiness means finding a moment of joy in ordinary hours.” (Sunim, 2012)
I wholeheartedly agree with Sunim, as my ordinary hours at university have given me an abundance of joy. Audiology is everything I thought it would be and more. It’s been very insightful, in particular, the realisation of the type of person and Audiologist I aspire to be. But also, I have already learnt so much, and grown so much just in the space of a few weeks.
There have been some challenges along the way. The world in the middle of a pandemic, has certainly had its toll on university life. Though we are a small group on this course, we’ve only met a handful of our classmates face to face, as we are currently working in bubble groups. This certainly made it difficult to make friends and get to know our peers. Not to mention, we have all had to adjust to online learning, which has been very new and different for not just us students, but for all our lecturers and members of staff. However, I find it can be very easy to complain about our struggles, which sometimes don’t have to be as bad as we make them out to be. Working in breakout rooms may not be for everyone, but it was a good way, in my opinion, to be able to meet and work with everyone on my course. In addition to this, social media proved a great tool in contacting and collaborating with our peers, creating a group chat for all of us to be able to stay in touch and update one another was definitely a good idea. Online learning has also been fun, and actually made things a lot easier for us. Having recordings available to watch all of our sessions and discussions, as well as demo videos specifically created by our lecturers, on how to conduct an appointment and vital procedures such as otoscopy and pure tone audiometry, were extremely helpful. These are amazing resources of learning, and ones which we can go back to as many times as we would like.
Some skills I have learnt so far, prioritised conducting a patient centric appointment. Learning how to use and handle equipment e.g. a tympanometer correctly is invaluable. Questioning techniques, to get a patient to open up to you and feel comfortable speaking to you, are imperative. Certain skills we may already have, but did not know how to utilise to the best of our ability. These could be as simple as being a good listener; it was David Luterman who rightly said, “we need to listen more.” (Luterman, 2010).
Patients want to feel heard, and it is our job to make that time to hear them. These simple things, can help in building a strong rapport with patients, and help our appointments be a lot more beneficial for them.
Finally, finding Audiology has been a journey of self-discovery. Moving away from home, and spending so much of my time in my own company, has certainly made me more aware of the type of person I am, and the type of person I want to be moving forward. I feel very grateful for where I am today, and I am extremely excited for the future, for which I have so many ideas. I cannot wait!
1. Sunim H, 2012, The things you can see only when you slow down: How to be calm in a busy world, Penguin Life
2. Luterman D, 2010, Ruminations of an old man: a 50-year perspective on clinical practice, 1st Ed, Taylor and Francis Group