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Audiologists or Dispensers – Part 2

In Audiologists or Dispensers – Part 1, we introduced corporate and professional business models for hearing health care, and indicated that the level of professional service you receive is linked directly to the business model of the hearing care provider you choose. 

Audiologists or Dispensers – Part 2 details the vastly different academic and knowledge requirements for audiologists vs. hearing aid dispensers, and how these differences dictate the legal responsibilities available to each group. It should be noted that audiologists fit hearing aids just like dispensers, but they can legally do much more for your hearing health, whereas dispensers are fundamentally permitted to sell hearing aids.


Audiologists must earn a Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree. This requires 4 years of undergraduate study in Communication Sciences (speech and hearing) and an additional 4 years of specialized academic work, including high-level training in the prevention, identification, assessment, and treatment of hearing disorders.

Their extensive academic credentials, professional certifications, and licensure, allow audiologists to legally provide a full range of patient-centered care, a set of professional standards that include a thorough patient assessment, comprehensive diagnostic tests, a consultation to discuss treatment options, highly specialized hearing aid fitting and programming, and a process of post-fitting adjustments and counseling.

Profit is certainly important to independent audiologists, but it doesn’t generally dictate the patient process. Many of the diagnostic and counseling efforts that define professional standards of patient-centered care offer low-profit margins compared to hearing aid sales…but these are critical elements of comprehensive hearing care. Take away any of the links from a patient-centered chain and you also disrupt the process of end-to-end care.

Hearing Aid Dispensers

Hearing aid dispensers, (AKA hearing aid specialists) are limited primarily to hearing aid sales. They can recommend, select, or adapt hearing aids and may alter, adjust or reconstruct hearing aid specifications for functionality, such as taking ear impressions for proper fit, but hearing aid sales keep them in business. Hearing aid dispensers can sell hearing aids in many states if they have a high school diploma or GED Certificate, pass a license exam, complete a brief apprenticeship with a licensed hearing aid specialist, and earn continuing education credits (usually from correspondence courses).

Reduced standards for hearing aid dispensers have caused a rapid spread of clinics with superficially trained staff, whose primary lawful focus is limited to hearing aid sales…not audiological services.

The next and following weeks will provide the truth about dispensers, Big Box corporate culture, hearing aid franchise stores, ENT surgeons,  and Online hearing aid sales. You will come to understand business models and their consequences…and you will discover that discount can be very expensive!

Pacific Northwest Audiology Planning A Party

Pacific Northwest Audiology is planning a Holiday Celebration for friends. It’s our way of appreciating those who have been loyal to us, those who want to know us, and the Bend community.  

Please like us on Facebook (here) and give us a call at 541-678-5698 if you are or want to be one of our friends. Note that this is on a “first come first serve” basis, since we have limited seating for the event.

See the invitation below, for details:

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“Unlock Your Hearing” On October 15 With Pacific Northwest Audiology and Starkey

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Pacific Northwest Audiology and Starkey Hearing Technologies will present “How To Unlock Your Hearing” on October 14, 2015, at the Hampton Inn and Suites, in Bend Oregon. This event will be free to the public…with important information on Tinnitus and the medical, emotional, and social consequences of untreated hearing loss, presented by leading Audiologists. The event will include a lunch buffet, special service deals, & a Kindle Fire raffle.

We have Limited seating so you must register at 541-678-5698. Don’t miss out…registration will close on Monday at 5 PM!

See more information on the following video:


36 Million Americans Suffer Hearing Loss …May is Better Hearing Month

Dr. Li-Korotky wants you to know that hearing loss currently affects more than 36 million Americans. Although hearing problems are commonly associated with normal aging, more than half of all hearing-impaired individuals are younger than 65. With the increased use of personal music players (MP3s) and earbuds, the number of Americans experiencing hearing loss at a younger age is growing.

Most Americans consider hearing loss a condition that is simply associated with aging, and don’t know how to recognize the condition or who is qualified to diagnose and treat the condition. In an effort to raise public awareness for the growing number of Americans suffering from hearing loss, the American Academy of Audiology in conjunction with Pacific Northwest Audiology is acknowledging Better Hearing Month this May. As part of Better Hearing Month, Pacific Northwest Audiology in Bend OR encourages consumers to be more aware of their hearing health.

Hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud noises; ear infections, trauma, or ear disease; harm to the inner ear and ear drum; illness or certain medications; and deterioration due to the normal aging process.

An audiologist is a highly educated and clinically experienced health-care professional who specialize in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating people with hearing loss and balance disorders. Hearing loss can affect patients of all ages…newborns, infants, babies, toddlers, children, teens, adults, and the elderly.

If you have trouble hearing conversation in a noisy environment such as a restaurant, are unable to hear people talk to you without looking at them, or have a constant ringing or pain in your ears, you may have a problem with your hearing. The first step in treatment of a hearing problem is a hearing evaluation by an audiologist.

Dr. Li-Korotky has specialized training in many areas, including, but not limited to:

  • Evaluating hearing loss for all age group
  • Prescribing and fitting hearing aids
  • Tinnitus evaluation and management
  • Designing and implementing hearing conservation programs and newborn hearing screening programs
  • Providing hearing rehabilitation training for hearing loss and tinnitus

Although most hearing loss is permanent, Dr. Li-Korotky can determine the best options to meet your hearing loss, lifestyle choices, and budget. These treatment may include hearing aids, assistive listening devices, and hearing rehabilitation.

In recognition of Better Hearing Month, we welcome you to book an appointment online, here, for a free comprehensive hearing exam and consultation.