If you have hearing loss, chances are good your familiar with an audiologist. Audiologists, as a refresher, are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating hearing loss and other auditory and balance disorders. Most audiologists work with patients but some are dedicated solely to bettering the field of audiology. These audiologists are known as research audiologists. 

Unlike audiologists who see patients, research audiologists engage in, as the name implies, research. They are data-driven individuals who spend a lot of time on analysis and publication of their research findings. Research audiologists often focus their research on specific diseases or treatments.

The mission of a research audiologist is to seek out and obtain basic knowledge about the nature and behavior of the hearing, auditory and balance systems, then share that information and knowledge in order to help others diagnose, prevent, manage and rehabilitate such disorders.

What goes into research?

A lot of time, effort and patience go into an audiologist’s research. All research begins with a hypothesis. From there, a research audiologist will ask questions and then seek out a test or way to gather results that can help answer the question. If the research has been conducted well, the audiologist can publish their results, helping fellow audiologists – especially those who are practicing with patients and have less time to dedicate to research – within the field.

A typical day

It would be wrong to assume that research audiologists don’t see patients at all. In fact, research audiologists see patients, typically on a daily basis. However, the types of patients they see are usually specific or have very unique issues, often relating to the audiologist’s research question or hypothesis. Seeing patients provides opportunities for research audiologists to gather data in a hands-on way.

Additionally, seeing patients helps research audiologists keep up with their practice.

Should I see a research audiologist?

Patients of research audiologists can benefit from the audiologist’s focus. Often times, these audiologists will ask more thorough questions, depending on their hypothesis or focus. However, some research audiologists have such narrow focuses that the type of patients they see is very limited. Nevertheless, they can provide unique experiences for their patients. The first step is to contact an audiologist in your area and discuss your symptoms with them.