By Robert Castleton Wormus
I’m 76 years old and have been retired from Audiology for fifteen years. In retirement, I write a daily science journal, numerous social media blogs, poetry, novels, anecdotes, adventures, and prognostications about the future. It’s my avocation, and now I want to add my two cents about Audiology.
Clinical audiology, I have no doubt, will continue to be the frontline healthcare paradigm for the identification, assessment and rehabilitation of hearing loss and balance disorders. It’s more than inevitable, it’s intuitive. The demand for clinical audiology will continue to climb as the population ages, and as current and future sophistication in electronics, technology, and fitting methodologies escalate. Clinical acumen in Audiology (psychoacoustics) and expertise in aural rehabilitation are not threatened by robotics or automation.
Of course, we’ll still have the over-the-counter gimmicks, threats, and sleazy salesmen; think of it as free advertising!
But that’s not what I want to address. Literally, the only downside of my entire career in Audiology was the overwhelming identity crisis that our field of audiology suffered – and is still suffering.
An Identity Crisis in Audiology?
As a researcher, I decided to research the identity crisis in Audiology. Using introspection, (retrospectively) I first delved into why there is an identity crisis in the first place.
What is audiology? Why did I spend an inordinate amount of my valuable clinical time defending myself, and the profession of audiology? Why was there an incessant need to describe who I am, what an audiologist does, and where we ‘fit’ into the overall healthcare delivery system? Does a teacher have to do this? A doctor, a dentist, or a rocket scientist? Of course not – but an audiologist does.
What I discovered from my research was interesting, provocative, and irritating.
A Google search – “what is audiology?” – revealed myopic textbook definitions of Audiology and what an audiologist does. The only definitions were those of clinical audiology and clinical audiologists.
The so-called historians of audiology obviously were:
- Not audiologist
- Not historians
- Had their own agendas (judging from the context).
The definitions focused more on what a medical doctor is and what an audiologist isn’t.
This is what I want to address. The history of Audiology, as well as general information about its scope and who practices it, must be rewritten, and peer reviewed by audiologists. This will be discussed further in Part 2.
Robert Castleton Wormus got his first Master’s Degree in Special Education of the Gifted late in 1964. He enjoyed being a ‘professional student’ for as long as the scholarships and fellowships lasted, which included an AA degree from El Camino, a BA degree in Educational methodology from CSU@LA, a certificate in Astronomy, a minor in experimental psychology, a California teaching credential in Education, Special Education, Speech Pathology, Audiology, the directorship of the CSU@LA’s Associated Clinics, and finally three California licenses in Audiology, Speech and Language Pathology.