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Your hearing health care team

Your hearing health care team

When going through your hearing loss journey, there are many medical professionals that you may work with to understand your hearing loss diagnosis and make a plan for moving forward on your journey.

These medical professionals make up your hearing health care team, and it is important to understand their jobs and roles in your life.

Health Care Roles

  • Primary Care Physician (M.D.)
  • Otolaryngologist (E.N.T.)
  • Otologist (E.N.T.)
  • Audiologist (Au.D.)
  • Pediatric Audiologist (Au.D.)
  • Occupational Medicine Specialist (M.D.)
  • Hearing Aid Specialist

Primary Care Physician (MD)

Your family doc.

A primary care physician is trained in the specialty of family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics. This doctor provides patient care at the first point of contact and takes continuing responsibility for the patient.

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Four-year medical school program
  • Three-year residency
  • Board examination

Otolaryngologist (ENT)

A doctor and surgeon who specializes in ENT (ear, nose, and throat).

An otolaryngologist (“oh-toe-lair-in-GAWL-uh-jist”), often called an ear-nose-and-throat doctor, or ENT, is a physician trained in the medical and surgical treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. Otolaryngologists treat hearing loss, ear infections, balance disorders, ear noise (tinnitus) and some cranial nerve disorders; they also manage congenital disorders of the inner and outer ear.

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Four-year medical school program
  • Five years of surgical training
  • Board exam

Otologist (ENT)

An ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor) who specializes in “E.”

An otologist (“oh-TOHL-uh-jist”) is an otolaryngologist who has completed an additional one to three years of specialty training in otology/neurology, studying diseases of the ear, trauma, infection, benign tumors, and nerve pathway disorders that affect hearing and balance.

  • Otolaryngology certification
  • One to three additional years of fellowship training

Audiologist (AuD)

Medically trained, an audiologist can diagnose you, then prescribe and fit your hearing aids.

An audiologist is a health-care professional who evaluates, diagnoses, treats and manages hearing loss, tinnitus and balance disorders. Audiologists are trained to perform hearing tests; prescribe, fit and adjust hearing devices; and, assist with hearing rehabilitation.

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Doctoral degree in audiology
  • Board examination

Pediatric Audiologist (AuD)

An audiologist trained to work with kids.

A pediatric audiologist is a certified audiologist who specializes in working with children: audiologists provide hearing diagnosis, and assist with the rehabilitation of infants and children with hearing disorders.

  • Certified audiologist
  • One year’s work under a licensed pediatric audiologist
  • 550 hours of pediatric patient contact, over the course of two years, within the last five years
  • Board examination

Read more: Ask Anna: What is the difference between an audiologist and ENT doctor?

Occupational Medicine Specialist (MD)

A doctor specializing in workplace health issues.

An occupational medicine specialist is a physician with a specialty in preventative medicine specifically related to the workplace. This doctor protects the health and safety of people in their places of employment and may be consulted in cases of work-related hearing loss.

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Four-year medical school program
  • Two years of non– preventative medicine residency
  • One year of preventative medicine residency
  • Graduate coursework
  • Occupational medicine exam

Hearing Aid Technician or Hearing Instrument Specialist

A specialist who can fit and adjust hearing aids.

Sometimes referred to as a fitter/dispenser, this individual has training in the assessment and evaluation of hearing loss, the administration of hearing tests, and the dispensing, fitting, and adjustment of hearing aids.

  • Varies from state to state but often comprises completion of a two-year program in hearing instrument fitter/dispenser instruction and licensing by the state.
Author Details
The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill Blocker von Bueren and Lisa Goldstein.