What is it like to give others a listening ear?
There is so much more to hearing aids than just helping people to listen better.
Youth.SG met senior audiologist April Chong to find out more about what it is like to help patients with hearing disabilities.
Who: April Chong, 31
Occupation: Senior audiologist and business development manager
Studied: Master of clinical audiology in University of Melbourne
Tell us more about yourself.
After my ‘A’ levels, I pursued a degree in biomedical science at the University of Melbourne, followed by a two-year masters course in clinical audiology.
I am currently a senior audiologist, and I also double up as the country’s sales manager at Sivantos, a company that specialises in hearing aids.
I really love my job. I don’t mind working long hours because it’s my passion.
How and why did you become an audiologist?
Before I graduated in my last semester at University of Melbourne, I was deciding whether to pursue pathology or audiology. I followed two friends, an audiologist and a pathologist, to observe their work before I made my choice.
When I was observing my audiologist friend, I witnessed an Australian old veteran who told my friend that he could hear his grandchildren saying “I love you” with his hearing aids. To me, that was a huge job satisfaction, so I chose audiology.
Describe a typical day at work.
It varies. Typically, I would do clinical support, which is to go to hospitals and help audiologists who are unfamiliar with the new hearing aid technology. I also help them deal with patients who ask a lot of questions about the hearing aids, as they don’t really know how to manage the device.
What is the most memorable experience you’ve had as an audiologist?
There was a kid who was born with Hurler Syndrome. His brain is unable to break down certain chemicals, causing a build-up of toxins. His life expectancy was 5 years. When I saw him, he was already about 3.5 years old.
After fitting him with hearing aids, his mum could talk to him and he could respond. One year later, he was gone.
It was very sad, but his mum was very appreciative. She came back and said thank you, and she was grateful that our team of audiologists did our part to help him.
What are some of the challenges you face on the job?
Time is a challenge. Let’s say I have a plan for three appointments today. Suddenly, I might receive a last minute request. I can say no, but I normally wouldn’t, because I want to maintain the standard of my products. Anyone fitted with my product has to be happy with its outcome.
I also have to sacrifice my personal time. The good thing is, I have a positive husband-to-be and a supportive family who know that I love my job.
How has the industry changed?
There are more local audiologists now, with the new master’s degree course in audiology that is offered in the National University of Singapore.
We still feel that there is a lack of audiologists because we have less than 100 audiologists here.
What advice would you give to youths considering a career in this path?
You have to love people. You have to know that this is not just a job, whatever you do impacts and affects other people.
Education requirements: In Singapore, the only audiology course available is a master’s degree course in NUS. You would need a bachelor’s degree in allied health, science, life sciences or engineering to qualify for this master’s degree course.
Qualities: Patience and positivity. You must also love people.
Salary range: Basic salary for audiologists with a bachelor’s degree is about $2,500. With more experience, the salary increases, ranging between $2,500 to $6,000.
Working hours: 8.30AM to 6PM, but it will usually stretch to beyond working hours.
Career prospects/advancements/specialisations: You can become a senior clinical audiologists, a trainer for other audiologists, or a lecturer in universities. You can even set up your own private clinic after you gain enough experience.
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