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Transition from Audiology


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Hi, folks! This is not a "what are my chances?" post, rather, a "what advice would you give me? post. I am in my final year of my doctorate in audiology (for all you non-ENT PAs, we are the professionals responsible for diagnosing and treating hearing loss and we also perform balance assessments). I am in the residency portion of my education and I do enjoy patient interaction and the limited diagnostic responsibilities and treatments we provide but I just took my certification exam and literally got every question right. I made a perfect score on the entrance exam for my profession. This, along with some other factors in my residency, has made me realize that the ceiling of knowledge I need for this field is rapidly approaching  I get along with my colleagues but the prevailing mindset is very much a punch in, punch out mindset, aside from a few exceptions.  For a lot of audiologists, this works great. For me, as I do not plan on having children, don't want to start a business, etc., I can see myself stagnating very quickly. I want to be challenged and have always felt a call to medicine in some form. I don't want to be a big fish in a little pond. 

In addition to the above, I have deep doubts about the viability of audiology going forward. Automation is going to rapidly change healthcare and if I were to pick professions which would be decimated, if not destroyed, by automation, audiology would be near the top. The services we provide are very cut and dry. In audiology, treatment means hearing aids and as technology advances, I can see a time when audiologists don't need to exist anymore as the devices become more and more self-fitted by patients and hearing tests are performed by computers. I truly believe medicine is my calling. While I don't regret my audiology training, I am fairly certain that if I do not become a provider in a medical context, I will never feel fulfilled. Med school is not a good value proposition unless you have a trust fund or start at 22/23, and I don't have a need to be the high-flying surgeon with a Porsche, crippling debt, a failed marriage, and no friends, which makes PA extremely attractive. I could see myself thriving as an ENT PA and feel confident that my familiarity with otology through my audiology training would be a big selling point. Switching from selling hearing aids to assisting in mastoidectomies sounds like a dream scenario. 

I have a few questions while I contemplate this transition: is PA market saturation actually a thing? do you think PAs are going to experience a cutback in jobs as automation encroaches on healthcare? is a lack of autonomy something you feel on a daily basis? 

In terms of my particular situation, is switching from another profession a red flag in the application process? Is the PA grass actually greener to a degree where the 2.5 years in school would be worth it? (Keep in mind my salary as an audiologist would be around 80k). Am I an idiot to give up my "Dr" credentials to pursue my interest in surgery and more medical areas?

I appreciate your input!

 

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  • 2 months later...

Take this from an audiologist's perspective... do it.  Do it now, don't wait, don't look back.  I don't mean to disparage my profession, but it is riddled with competing interests and fractured professional organizations that cannot agree on how best to support the profession.  If money and the additional 2.5 years of schooling is not an issue, then this decision is a no-brainer.  You will enjoy far more autonomy, respect, and reimbursement as a PA than you ever will as an AuD.

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On 10/7/2020 at 10:31 AM, DAhope said:

Take this from an audiologist's perspective... do it.  Do it now, don't wait, don't look back.  I don't mean to disparage my profession, but it is riddled with competing interests and fractured professional organizations that cannot agree on how best to support the profession.  If money and the additional 2.5 years of schooling is not an issue, then this decision is a no-brainer.  You will enjoy far more autonomy, respect, and reimbursement as a PA than you ever will as an AuD.

2nd this!!! However, before making jump into PA, educate yourself on the current and future obstacles PA’s are facing. Very poor title “assistant” applicable years ago, not now. Plus the ever increasing NP independence that is frowning like wildfire. Will be every state within 10 years. I work in an ENT office owned by large hospital Corp. While the ENT wants to hire a PA, the management prefers NP due to less oversight and paperwork. Not sure who will win, but right now hospital is considering an newly minted online NP vs. Physicians choice of PA with VERY relevant 10 yr experience. Sad that it  is even a question of which is better candidate. 

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