Whilst I was doing my A-levels, I had a work experience placement at an Audiology department. The experience gave me a detailed insight into the skills and work required of an audiologist. It was not until I met many different patients with a hearing loss that I truly understood what it means to be able to hear. A sense that most of us take for granted, that helps us to understand each other and the world around us. The importance of it is only realised when we can no longer hear clearly. Working in a profession where you can see the difference you make to patients, by helping them to hear better was very appealing to me. After this experience, I went from not knowing what I wanted to study, to being enthused to study Audiology. It is hard to explain how I made the decision at the time, but it just felt right, something clicked, and I knew Audiology was the career for me.

In my gap year I researched the course further and decided to volunteer with Action on Hearing Loss (now known as the Royal Institute for Deaf People) as a hearing aid support volunteer. My role was to retube hearing aids, give out batteries and provide information and support to patients. It was a role I thoroughly enjoyed and seeing the positive impact it had on my patients was so rewarding. In 2017, I successfully applied to study Audiology at the University of Leeds.

My 3 years at university have been wonderful and I can’t believe it’s all over. I had the chance to explore a new city and be independent whilst living away from home. Studying in a small group meant that I could approach my lecturers whenever I needed help and support. Challenging myself by becoming a student ambassador and helping out at interviews has made me grow in confidence. I have enjoyed all aspects of the course and throughout the degree, placement is what I looked forward to the most.

After my placement in first year, I was eager to continue studying and work in Audiology. It was an opportunity to work within a team and put my newfound knowledge and skills to the test. Learning the theory and putting it into practice on placement was one of the best ways to learn. The excitement I felt each time I learnt something new, overcame one of my fears or had positive feedback from patients and staff was what kept me motivated. Placement has improved my professional skills and has taught me so much. I feel privileged to have worked with and learnt from so many amazing audiologists.

Towards the end of my final year, the university decided it was no longer safe for students to attend placement, due to COVID-19, and my placement ended earlier than I had expected. In what has been such a difficult time for many, I count myself very lucky as I had more time to focus on completing my dissertation and assignments and I was still able to complete the degree. Not even a pandemic could stop me getting a degree in Audiology! I am excited for my future in Audiology and I am looking forward to helping patients to hear better.

Aisha Awan

University of Leeds