During this last academic year, being a student audiologist has been extremely overwhelming, but it has also been a rewarding and valuable experience. I have had to cope with the immense pressure of full-time placement, attending study days at university, meeting the deadlines of several assignments and completing final year exams, alongside the pressure of covid-19. The pandemic itself was a monumental strain on students as we had to deal with what was going on in the world around us as well as focus on our academic studies which was extremely challenging.
However, despite all the challenges, I took every opportunity to learn from my seniors both at university as well as on placement in order to become an outstanding clinician in which patients laid their trust in. Over the last 7 months I have gained knowledge in various areas within the field of audiology specifically vestibular and paediatrics. I have grasped the in-depth knowledge of several tests from caloric testing to visual reinforcement audiometry, this has given me the opportunity to carry out different tests, learn the reasoning behind why each test is carried out and the benefit each test has for the patient. During my study days at university I was able to put into practice what I had learnt in the online lectures, as a result of this I was able to participate and help carry these tests out amongst my colleagues therefore improving my skill set. I hope to physically carry out the numerous tests within the vestibular and paediatric field independently in the near future so that I have experience in both of these areas.
During the start of my placement my aim within the first few weeks was to be up to date with the current BSA procedures and departmental procedures as it was vital for me to have the in-depth background knowledge to successfully carry out appointments. To begin with I only felt comfortable doing small sections of an appointment for example, pure tone audiometry (PTA) in one appointment and then history taking in another appointment. I was hesitant to carrying out a full appointment in the starting weeks of my placement, as I wanted to avoid making any mistakes as I had never worked with real patients before. However, my supervisor reminded me that as a student it is acceptable to make mistakes as we are on a learning pathway and learning from our mistakes will make us outstanding clinicians. I took the advice on board from my supervisor, and I gradually gained confidence to do more in appointments, eventually I was doing whole appointments independently. This experience has allowed me to develop as a clinician as it has given me the courage to carry out appointments in my own unique style. The more patients I saw the more I became confident with doing different clinics such as direct referrals, reassessments, fitting appointments and repairs. I have developed my own flow on how to carry each of these appointments out and I ensured that each appointment was tailor-made for my patient.
Before starting placement, I knew communication was a key skill that I needed to be competent in because majority of my patients that I was going to see would have a hearing loss, therefore being clear and speaking to my patients in a jargon free manor was vital. From the start I was always vocal with my patients and I integrated techniques such as teach back to get the most information from my patient in order to help them with their assessment appointment and their rehabilitation plan. Over the last 7 months I have concluded that having good communication with patients allows them to put their trust in you, which gives you motivation as a clinician to help the patient in the best way that you can. Additionally I have realise that it is important for a patient to understand the following, the outcomes of the appointment, how each test will be carried out, explanation of their results and their treatment plan and in order to effectively deliver all this information to the patient, outstanding communication is vital at every stage.
To conclude, 7 months ago I did not see myself as a clinician, yet I am now beginning to see myself as a clinician rather than a student. I hope to carry forward my strengths and work on my weaknesses, my aim is to work on all the skills that I have learnt during placement and integrate them within my future career as an audiologist. I also believe that it is equally important for me to continue my professional development during my career as well as keeping up to date with procedures and new research as audiology is constantly changing.