Saira Hussain is the Teaching Fellow at HEA at Aston University and with the new term well underway she has shared her thoughts on what new Audiology students can expect from their first year at uni...
What to expect in Year 1 Audiology?
So you’ve chosen your degree and embarking on a career in audiology. You’ve read up the modules you’ll be undertaking (along with their codes!) But how does your first year of the course prepare you for the rest of your studies?
(Please note, this may vary amongst the institutions delivering the course).
Routes into audiology have changed over the years, through apprentice style training, to a 4 year degree, to now a 3 year full time Healthcare Science degree. These changes have meant supervisors, trainers and professional bodies have changed their roles as well.
As part of this course you will cover aspects of audiology, neurophysiology and ophthalmic and vision sciences. This is to provide an overview of the patient experience and have a greater understanding of the patient journey through a range of healthcare departments.
You’ll start to learn about audiology processes and clinical skills. Students will be made aware of the regulatory and professional bodies (and what the differences between the two are!) You will get hands-on and practice otoscopy (looking in and around ears), performing a hearing test and more. You will be supervised during these sessions and will practice on each other, with staff and potentially patients too (all under supervision in a safe environment).
You will also learn about the anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology of the ears and hearing (in other words, the structure, pathway and processes). You will also learn about the impact of hearing loss and your role as a future audiologist.
As part of the course, you will get to undertake a range of placements. In your first year this will primarily be in an observer capacity, but this may be your first experience of meeting real patients. For many, it reinforces your understanding of the role and what to expect in the future. You may get to see a range of appointment types (from initial consultations to fittings to follow ups). You may also get to see the variety of patients we see, in terms of ages and backgrounds.
You’ll also get a chance to speak to members from the team and ask them about their experiences too. From personal experience, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting members of the team, asking them how they got into audiology and what they enjoy about it. If someone has been working 30 years in the same profession, which was proof enough for me that it was an exciting and an evolving field to be a part of!
University is a different way of learning to previous education. It has a large focus on independent learning; you will still have group tasks and presentations, but the onus is on you. This is a great skill to develop, especially in your future role as an audiologist. It will be your patient to see and more often than not you may see them for future appointments too (e.g. if you saw them for their first appointment, you may get to see them again for their hearing aid fitting for example).
It can take some time to adapt to university life but organisation is key. It’s important to note deadlines and use the university resources available to you, e.g. the library etc. You will receive feedback from a variety of sources, such as written assignment feedback but also verbally through clinical skill sessions.
The student experience
As this is a vocational course, your experience may differ from friends and flatmates at university. I know it did for me, explaining why I was travelling a few hours away for placement opportunities, to my fellow housemates was a regular occurrence.
You may have placements outside of term dates (perhaps in your final year), and you may have patient contact and therefore the expectation of being a professional starts very early on. There are student expectations of professional practice from regulatory and professional bodies and therefore it’s important to be aware of how you represent yourself both on and off campus. This doesn’t mean you can’t let your hair down, but you have to be mindful when wearing any uniforms or ID badges.
Although it seems like a lot of responsibility, it’s actually a great opportunity that your other peers may not have. You’ll get to meet patients, practice your skills, and develop in your role – all before you graduate and qualify!
Once you’ve gotten your head around the terminology, the practical skills, and general university life, see how you can enhance your experience (and CV) by pursuing extra activities. Read my previous blog 'Advice for the Audiology undergraduate' to find out more about striking that balance.
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