UK Health Professionals with Hearing Loss
Deaf and hard of hearing people working and training in health professions
Thank you for setting up this site: as others have said, finding relevant information on things like frequencies of clinical sounds and types of stethoscopes has been difficult and audiologists I’ve met have been slightly confounded by such specific requests.
It’s interesting that the philosophy seems to be ‘tell people ( patients) that you are deaf’ – this is what my medical protection group advised, but it feels a bit incongruous to tell people this then pick up a stethoscope, listen to their chest and tell them it all sounds normal.
I have one moulded BTE device which I prop my stethoscope against as I don’t hear much on that side, and so rely on the other ear to pick up the sounds. I have tried one of the modern BTE narrow tube devices ( forgotten your more technical term for these) in my ‘better’ ear, but on resting stethoscope against this, when I came to take the stethoscope away, the hearing aid pinged out across the room, much to my embarrassment!
I have arranged an occupational therapy assessment in relation to my hearing loss and I’m sure the information on this site will be helpful in this meeting, so thank you again
I’m glad you found the site and thanks for your comments.
“Tell people..that you are deaf.” Absolutely! I tell practically everyone right when I’m introducing myself – patients, staff, new aquaintances, on the phone, shop assistants…. Well, not for example if it’s a quick conversation in a shop and conditions seem OK so I can hear. But the slightest bit of difficulty hearing them and I say. Something I learned from others when I went to lip-reading classes. And it really helps. People don’t think I’m stupid or ignoring them and many people do immediately make the effort to speak clearly.
I was nervous initially telling patients but actually it works really well. For the same reasons. And I’ve never had anyone put off by it. Sometimes working across cultures with a bit of a language barrier, some patients look a bit puzzled, but it doesn’t seem a problem. Only two patients have asked me about using the stethoscope and were happy when I explained that heart and lung sounds are low frequency where my hearing is normal. Another asked me something else about being a deaf doctor so I took the opportunity to say I was surprised most people don’t seem worried when I use a stethoscope. He said that he assumed “they wouldn’t let you practise if you weren’t safe so it must be OK.” Whoever “they” might be. But I think that’s a reasonable assumption anyway: at interviews or starting a new post I explain to boss/colleagues. I hope that if I hadn’t someone would ask me and if they thought I was in denial, would challenge me and if really necessary escalate.
It doesn’t come up with patients anyway now that I have an electronic stethoscope. (More convenient that taking out my BTEs to use a normal one.)
Bottom line is: I encourage d/Deaf/HOH health professionals to tell patients and colleagues and everyone I know who does this has found it helpful.
With your open fit hearing aids (I think that’s the ones you’re referring to) you could stick your aids onto your head or the back of your ear: see here. I used to then stopped bothering and just flicked out my moulds leaving the aids hanging over my ears. I think you could do that with open fit though it’s maybe just a tad more fiddly. Even so, and especially because I wear glasses which is something else getting in the way at my ears, sometimes a hearing aid would make a bid for freedom and end up on the floor. I’d just check it wasn’t somewhere we’d be likely to stand on it and retrieve it after examination. I’m upfront about my deafness and aids (so much so I switched to coloured moulds when I happened to move to a different audiology department that offers colours) so I’m matter of fact about it when they go flying.
I have headphones with my electronic stethoscope and vents in my moulds, so now my hearing aids can stay in place. I don’t even have to turn them off as I don’t seem to get feedback. I’m all for things being as quick and convenient in use as possible!
Hope your OH appointment is helpful. It’s understandable that many OH and audiology staff haven’t experience yet in working with d/Deaf/HOH health professionals and if they or you have questions, do feel free to get in touch. I’ll take this opportunity to plug our email discussion group. There are well over 100 members at any one time we can benefit from each others’ experience instead of just me through the website.
Thank you for the comments. In a similar vein, I have hair tied back and the good old BTE NHS aid pretty much clearly visible – I suspect it could be why several patients have raised issued about their own hearing problems.
Could I ask what stethoscope/ headphones you use as I’ve had one or two articles passed on by a helpful audiologist at Boots, but nothing that included use of headset ( they seemed to be more things that would attach to cochlear implants or use some iPhone app to relay sounds to the hearing aid, or some such system that was a bit too technical for me to comprehend)
there’s information about suitable headphones here. I use the “sporta” convertible-style headphones as the ones that come as standard with the Cardionics E-scope, sit a bit too low on my ears.
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