Written by: Kat Bakhmetyeva
At ESHC, interns are a vital part of our practice. College students join us from all over the country to gain hands-on experience in Audiology, Speech, and Marketing. They learn, work and attend regular educational sessions with our specialists. Last week our interns had the opportunity to explore the latest hearing aid technology, with the help and guidance of Tristan, a hearing aid company representative. The following is a recap of the experience from our Marketing student:
“Our intern meetings take place every Friday, in the ESHC Kirkland office. Currently, the clinic is hosting four full-time interns and welcomes all new employees to attend as well. Every week is different, but today was extra special: we explored and learned about the latest advances in hearing instruments. As a Marketing student, I love to get an inside scoop on the industry I promote every day and apply our clinic’s collaborative approach to learn about each division.
As usual, in the beginning of our meeting, we shared our ups and downs of the week. Audiology and Speech interns talked about interesting cases, I introduced some upcoming events, and the new employees recapped on their latest progress. This time of the meeting is the perfect time to encourage my colleagues in their work and receive some support during the “stretch” days.
As we sat around the table, Tristan began her demonstration of the newest models of hearing aids. There is a huge variety of designs, colors, and looks, yet they all have one thing in common: when worn, they are barely visible. Some colors match the wearer’s skin tone, others – the custom made ones – are practically invisible when inserted into the ear. The design of each instrument is delicate and light, so the wearer wouldn’t even feel it around his or her ear.
It was exciting to realize just how far along hearing technology has come when we learned about how fast the sound gets transmitted in the newer models. Some three years ago, you.would.hear.your.conversations.like.this, with long pauses and elongated words. In contrast, now the delivery speed is comparable to what we are normally used to when speaking. The models we were looking at in particular also come with a handy smartphone app to regulate volume, switch to and from various programs, listen to music and even connect to the TV.
Finally, we got to see the full benefits of the newest hearing aid models through a Virtual Reality experience. I was the first lucky intern to try it out, as my colleagues took photos and giggled at my reaction. I was shown two segments of a dinner party, with a number of simultaneous conversations happening around. As I looked around this virtual world in the first episode, I saw a beautiful chandelier hanging above the table, a fancy dessert on my plate and several people chatting across from me. What struck me right away was the conversations appeared abruptly, with the volume switching from silent to loud as I moved my gaze around the virtual room. As Tristan explained, this is how the older, directional hearing aids work: you are only able to hear your partner if you are looking at him or her directly.
The contrast to this segment came in a few seconds. Suddenly the room was filled with chatter and noise. I realized that I didn’t have to turn my entire body to hear what the speaker on my right had to say, so I continued to eat my virtual dinner and listen to him at the same time. Another conversation began to sound interesting, as the couple in front of me decided to work out their issues. I could really feel the difference from the last “directional” segment when I heard someone call me over from another end of the table, and I didn’t even see him.
While virtual reality is a whole other topic, I am happy to have experienced it in the context of Audiology. This meeting and demonstration of hearing technology gave me a good understanding of what our patients experience. It also provided the incentive for more collaborative work to interns and employees from various disciplines.
We are grateful to be part of these weekly intern meetings, where we can not only discuss our progress, but also continue learning and stretching our knowledge. As I continue to grow as a professional, I will view my internship at ESHC as a prime example of how all internships should take place.”