Zita - Audiologist, NHS Lothian

My name is Zita and I'm from Dublin. I've been an audiologist for four years and I work in adult and paediatric audiology.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? 

I don’t really know, I don’t think I had any specific plans. I always wanted to work with people. So I think it all just fell into place.

Why did you decide to become an audiologist?

Primarily, I decided to become an audiologist to help people and improve people’s quality of life. My undergraduate degree was History, and then I studied Speech Therapy. During that course, we had a lot of audiology modules and spent a lot of time observing audiology clinics. I found myself enjoying clinical work in audiology more than SLT. So, I transferred to do an MSc in Audiology in Edinburgh.

Can you describe your job in a sentence?

It’s difficult to put it into a sentence! It’s working as part of a team to improve the patient’s quality of life.  I'm always trying to get people to change their attitude to their hearing loss and hearing aids, particularly in the adult audiology department. I’ve found a key aspect is to help people become more positive about their hearing loss. I make sure they feel confident with how to use their hearing aids and have an awareness that they can improve the person's quality of life. There’s a lot of negative associations with hearing aids. It's vital the person leaves the department with a positive outlook on hearing aids, otherwise they may not get on well with them.

What opportunities are there to develop your skills and experience?

There’s a lot of opportunities within the department. We have clinicians who specialise in different areas such as hyperacusis, visual reinforcement audiology, performing auditory brainstem responses. So there’s the opportunity to observe these clinics initially. Once you've obtained some foundation skills, you can start thinking about what area interests you and that you would like to specialise.  Outside of the department, there’s many different conferences and workshops you can formally apply to do. 

What have been your greatest career accomplishments to date?

I don’t know if I have a single greatest career accomplishment. There are a few patients, that their quality of life has really improved, and their attitude really changed to hearing aids. There’s a few that stick in the mind a wee bit more.  Seeing someone who was very negative towards hearing aids and then seeing them get on well is a fantastic feeling. There are some patients who just really came on leaps and bounds.

What makes you smile during your job?

I think speech testing is a great one. You’ve done the hearing test, you’ve fitted the hearing aids and you test to see how well they hear without any visual cues. It always makes me smile when I programme up the hearing aids and the patient hears speech really well, especially when they have a severe hearing loss. Seeing the improvement from when they arrived at the beginning of the appointment and were struggling to hear a normal level of conversation to then hear the quiet level conversation.  It’s a great feeling.

What is the most difficult situation you faced in your career as a healthcare scientist?

The most emotionally challenging aspect of the job is when there is deterioration in someone’s hearing and you have to give them that bad news. That can be tough.

Time constraints can also be an issue. You have to use appointment times wisely. Sometimes I would like to spend more time with the patient but you’re limited with appointment times and you have to be realistic.

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a healthcare scientist

Do your research. Get in touch with some departments and ask to observe clinics. Then look into universities that have an audiology course. I find working in both adults and children to be great, as you get a bit of variety. I also enjoy working in the two departments is really good. It means every day is different and interesting.