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The Difference Between an Audiologist and a Hearing Instrument Specialists


When looking for a place to have your hearing tested for the first time, or when looking for hearing aids, you may notice that there are many places that you can go. You will see that some places employ Audiologists, as is the case with Advantage Audiology, and some employ Hearing Instrument Specialists/Dealers (HIS/HID). How do you know which one is the best for you?

  • Audiologists are health care professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage patients with hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders. Audiologists have advanced levels of education and are required to have a Master’s or Doctorate level degree. Graduate program areas of study include diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders, anatomy and physiology, normal and abnormal communication development, genetics, ethics, physics, pharmacology and more. Audiologists must also complete many hours of supervised training during and after their graduate studies. They are trained to diagnose and treat all types of hearing loss, and to determine when a patient needs a medical referral. Audiologists are trained to counsel patients in regard to the level and type of hearing loss, of how hearing loss impacts daily communication, and on a variety of communication strategies. Audiologists are trained to advise patients on the use of Assistive Listening Devices when hearing aids are not enough. Many Audiologists seek continuing education to provide the best and most up to date care for patients.
  • Hearing Instrument Specialists are not required to have the same high level of educational degrees as Audiologists and they provide services only for the testing, selection, and fitting of hearing instruments. In the State of Colorado, they are required to have passed a national exam by the National Board for Certification in the Hearing Instrument Sciences. Hearing Instrument Specialists must be 18 years of age and have a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Both Audiologists and Hearing Instrument Specialists must be licensed in the State of Colorado by the Department of Regulatory Agencies. However, Hearing Instrument Specialists are limited to testing hearing solely for the purposes of dispensing hearing aids. They are not trained to complete diagnostic hearing evaluations, balance assessments, or tinnitus evaluations. Audiologists are academically and clinically trained to identify a wide variety of pathologies and underlying medical conditions that can affect our hearing and balance system. With this knowledge, the audiologist can then work with an ear, nose, and throat doctor (otolaryngologist) to assist in the evaluation and treatment of those medical conditions. Patients seen at Advantage Audiology have the benefit of direct referrals to our physicians when it is necessary.

So why choose an Audiologist with Advantage Audiology?

At Advantage Audiology we employ highly trained and certified Audiologists. Our Audiology staff are educated in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders, anatomy and physiology, normal and abnormal communication development, genetics, ethics, physics, pharmacology, and more. Advantage’s Audiologists consider all of these aspects of communication in addition to your own individual listening needs when assisting you with the selection and fitting of amplification devices.

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