Hi, my name is Kirsty. I’m an audiologist for Greater Glasgow and Clyde. I’ve been working for NHS for around 12 years now, after qualifying from Queen Margaret Uni in Edinburgh. I first found out about audiology in sixth year of high school. I was looking through different prospectuses to decide what I wanted to do. I just stumbled across it and went to the open day, and it just felt like a good fit.
My NHS journey started when I qualified in 2010. I pretty much immediately started working at Inverclyde Royal [Hospital] and was there for about a year or so, until I was fortunately offered a job a bit closer to home and I have been there ever since. So I've been lucky to be able to stay in the same department for over 10 years now.
I knew when I was at school that I wanted to be part of the health service, I just wasn't sure what role I wanted to do, so once I had read about audiology it just seemed like a good fit for me. A lot of it came down to the fact that there was a lot of vacancies at the time and there still are, so that's obviously a big plus – when I was looking at a course – that there was a pretty definite job opportunity at the end of it. That it was an outpatient role that was Monday to Friday based was pretty appealing as well, just for looking ahead into the future for family life.
Things that have helped me to achieve my kind of career goals really come down to the fact that I have a really supportive team and a forward-thinking team lead. She has always been very encouraging of us if we want to try other things, or if there's something that we want to move into she's happy for us to give it a go, and if we need any training and things to help us get into that. So that's really what's helped us to kind of keep moving forward as a department.
The bread-and-butter work for audiology tends to be doing a lot of hearing assessments and then from then we decide what needs to be done. If the person needs a hearing aid, or help with tinnitus, or help with their balance, it all starts with the hearing assessment and then we move forward from there.
One of the most important skills for us in our job is communication. Effective communication is huge for us. A huge number of our patients are in the kind of elderly category, sometimes then their cognition isn't perfect, or they might have mobility issues or dexterity problems. We've really got to factor all that into their appointment to make sure that it's the best kind of tailored service for them. Our main responsibilities really come down to that as well. Our main responsibility is always the patient and making sure that you are diagnosing what is going on with them and treating them appropriately or making sure that you're sending them to somebody that can treat them appropriately. We've also got a big responsibility to our colleagues and just supporting each other.
I didn't know anything about healthcare science before I started. I went straight from school at 17 to uni and knew nothing. What I like most about my job is really, you know, there's a fair bit of job satisfaction that comes with audiology. You're making quite a significant change to somebody's life if you're helping them to hear better, or if you're reducing their tinnitus or improving their balance. You know, that all sends somebody home in better stead than what they came into for.
The advice I would give to people that are looking into any kind of healthcare science role is just have a good look through all the different courses and pick something that appeals to you. You know, it has to be something that's going to interest you because training to do a job like this, you're not just doing it for like a short-term job, you're doing it because you want to do it for a long time. So have a look into the things, like I mentioned before, about how it appealed to me because it was a Monday to Friday job, and it was outpatients, and I didn't have to do night shifts and things like that. That all matters in the long term for people's lives.
My future career plans are really just to continue to grow with my role. It will invariably change as the years go on with technology and changes to the health service, so just to keep working with my team to move things forward.
I think there's quite a lot of things that would surprise people about audiology. Sometimes it feels a wee bit like it's the kind of forgotten health service. A lot of people ask me what audiology is when I tell them that that's what I do, so maybe the fact that we work with people with balance problems would surprise people and it's not just about hearing aids. It might also surprise people that we fit hearing aids to people of all ages and not just to elderly people. There is quite a lot to the role.