“The art of conversation is the art of hearing… as well as being heard.”
A colleague and friend of mine recently shared a photo of our graduating class, 2013 doctors of audiology. I couldn’t help but chuckle, looking at myself in the picture. Young, full of ambition and a touch of naivety; ready to set out on a journey to make the world a better place. I was going to do it the right way, even if that meant doing it my way.
Three years later and here I sit, having just opened my own practice. The journey to this point has been swift, ringing true to the wisdom that so many of my patients have bestowed upon me (life moves fast). Like many young, wide-eyed individuals entering the next phase of adulthood, I found that my calling was not entirely what I thought it to be, much to my dismay at times.
One would think that audiology at its core would be about “helping people”. Surely such a profession would be altruistic and focused solely on improving quality of life of the individuals we took an oath to serve. I wasn’t entirely wrong, considering the vast amount of wonderful audiologists out there wholly dedicated to their craft. But as wiser and more experienced folks can attest, the real world isn’t always so pure.
The ugly side of hearing healthcare is centered around what you might expect, the almighty dollar. As one who did not particularly grow up with means, this was hard to wrap my head around. I watched as myself and colleagues dear to me were slowly molded from doctors of audiology to the stereotype we associate with used car salesmen. “Experts” have stated that such tactics were for the “greater good”; that it is necessary in order to help patients “get out of their own way”.
This leads to my true motivation for founding Wolfpack Hearing Clinic. I have never viewed patients as a means to an end. Whether I feel my recommendation is best for them is… irrelevant. Yes, my education qualifies me as an expert on hearing loss and treatment. It does not, however, qualify me to ignore the voice of patients, many of whom, ironically, just wish to be heard. It’s true that marketing and sales have a place in audiology considering there are still people out there who view hearing aids in a negative light.
But consider the era we live in. It’s the information age and we are naturally skeptical of anything perceived as a “pitch”. I am grateful for it as patients have responded so well to the approach we bring; honesty and transparency. We worked very hard to assemble a team of like-minded individuals who share the same vision. As a result, our patients know that their concerns will be considered and that we do in fact work for them. Our patients know they won’t be pressured into purchasing hearing aids if they’re not quite ready. They know they can trust us to look out for their best interest, not ours.
Like many before me, I look back at my younger years with amusement, though I don’t feel that age has left me jaded. If anything, it reaffirmed that the world is bigger than me, and that the goal of any individual should be to leave the world a little better than it was before. Professionally, the same naive principles I had as a student remain. That is, the good of the patient stands above all else. Our vision is reliability, competence, forward-thinking, and values. We stand for what audiology was meant to be.