Studying Audiology at Aston University was one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences that I think that I will ever have. The course was exciting, varied and certainly tested me in ways that I never expected it to.
Beginning University was certainly a shock to the system. I quickly learned that the first year of Audiology did not align with my expectations of the ‘typical university first year,’ where the majority of students will do just enough to get by. Although our first year didn’t count towards our final grade, it became apparent to me that the practical and theory sessions that we were having, built the foundations required for the following two years. Balancing this high work demand with a part time job and the temptations of the exciting university social life was demanding, and definitely taught me the importance of managing my time.
My second year of university was the year I enjoyed the most. I felt like I had found my feet in Birmingham. This was characterised by improving relationships with course mates, tutors and also friends that I had made outside of university. It also probably helped that I could wash my own clothes now and could put together a couple of meals to keep me away from Tesco meal deals for dinner. Having the opportunity to practise appointments with patient actors, and also criticising scientific literature allowed me to see myself as not only a clinician, but a healthcare scientist that could better my practice in more ways than perfecting various Audiological tests. A specific memory of this year that marked a huge increase in my confidence, was the day that I took on the daunting task of looking down the head of Audiology’s extremely bendy ear canal. After several attempts, I was able to obtain a full view of her ear drum. After this, I noticed an extra bit of spring in my step and felt that I was ready to take on whatever the Audiology world had to throw at me.
The final year of Audiology was almost completely taken up by placement. I decided to take on the challenge of completing a placement with Boots Hearingcare. I made this decision partly because I had experienced a lot of NHS placements already, and also because I was interested in finding out what the extra technology the private sector had to offer. This year was a sink or swim year to say the least. Having to travel to 4 different locations every week for a 32 hour a week placement, settling down in a new city, writing my dissertation, keeping up with lectures and preparing for my final practical assessments was a huge challenge. I am very grateful for the support that I received from my personal tutor throughout this time and also my amazing placement supervisor who went above and beyond to make sure that I was coping with the workload. My experience with Boots Hearingcare, although different from the NHS, was invaluable. Getting the opportunity to observe 4 different Audiologists every week in an ethically driven commercial clinic broadened my perspective of the Audiology world. I was able to practise using state of the art hearing technology and enjoyed being able to fine tune my appointments to the patients’ needs. Although this experience came with its ups and downs with regards to my confidence as a clinician, I would not change it as I have developed greatly as an Audiologist and as an individual.
Finishing the course was a significantly rewarding time. Especially after being rejected from the same Audiology course on my first attempt due to not meeting the grade entry requirements. Achieving a First-Class Honours result in all 3 years of my degree and then being awarded the BSc Scholar Award for the highest marking dissertation was something I could never have expected, and an achievement that I am very proud of. The overwhelming lesson from my university experience is the importance of hard work, perseverance and self-belief in all aspects of life.
Due to living with a vulnerable Adult, I have made the choice to put my Audiology plans on hold for the time being. I am currently enjoying working for the Office for National Statistics as a COVID-19 data collector. My plans for the future include trying to obtain some paediatric experience in the NHS after a very enjoyable week of specialised placement, and hopefully advancing to become a Band 6 Audiologist.
Timon Wasilwa, BSc