Medical professionals with hearing loss

Fairly new here to the boards. I was just curious about how many people there are with hearing loss who work in the medical field and methods you use to cope with it.

Hi Patricia;

I’m a (former) nurse practitioner who plans on returning to practice once my children are older. I let go of my license last year as I knew I would be staying home full-time for at least the next seven years in order to raise my children. Being new to the hearing loss world, or at least, new to the world of needing a hearing aid, I don’t know for certain how I will cope when I return to work as I don’t yet know if I have a progressive loss. Assuming my hearing doesn’t get too much worse before I return to work, I intend to use whatever hearing modification devices are needed at that time. My audiologist is a bilateral hearing aid user and she is quite confident that I will be able to return to work in the medical field even if my loss is progressive. I will likely require an amplified stethoscope. I’ve always used a good cardiology stethoscope, but since I now have a mild hearing loss in my good ear, whereas previously I didn’t have any loss in that ear, I think by the time I return it will make sense to get an amplified scope of some sort. If need be, I’ll also ensure I have access to an electronic BP machine, which shouldn’t be too difficult.

In terms of facilitating communication, I plan to take a speech reading course as soon as one becomes available in my city, which should happen sometime later this year or early next year. I’m also going to start taking ASL this fall. Long ago, I was conversationally proficient at sign language (ASL, not signed English), but since I haven’t used it much, I’ve lost most of that ability. I hope my hearing loss never progresses to the point of needing to use ASL on a full-time basis, but I also want to be prepared just in case it does. Besides, as a medical professional, it never hurts to have a second language!! Other things I’ve considered, in terms of communication, are CAPTEL for my office and CART for meetings, but only if/when they become necessary.

What sort of medical professional are you, and how do you cope with your hearing loss? Do you require any modifications in your workplace at this point, and if so, have you found the experience positive? I’ll be interested in learning your thoughts.


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I’m a pharmacist who work in an ICU most of the time, and decided to get aids though my hearing loss is mild. I had problem hearing when nurses call my work cell phone from their Vocera (couldn’t hear clearly because of the background noise and static), and had to ask them to call from regular phone so that I can understand. This would irritate some nurses because they always need meds STAT. Also while attending walking rounds I would miss some questions or couldn’t hear some info because often people who are not on rounds talk louder than the rounding group, and vent machines and vital monitors would ding or beep. My hearing aids have been really helping with clarity and a bit of volume boost. I’m hearing better at home, too but they really help me on my job :slight_smile:

I still try to clarify if I couldn’t understand or not sure, sometimes that irritates nurses or doctors, but better be safe than sorry.

I should have shared a little bit more about myself. I am an RN. I work in rehab. Patients range from middle age to geriatrics for the most part. I have bilateral otosclerosis with associated tinnitus but fortunatly not the vertigo or nerve loss that can go along with it. I had my first stapedectomy in the left ear nearly 20 years ago followed by emergency redo r/t develpment of a fistula 4 days later. I had my right ear done 7 years ago. After talking with my ENT and then consult with a specialist at Wash U in St Louis I made the decision not to have surgery again because the risk for complications in revisions is just too high. That left me with the only option being hearing aids which I have had for almost 2 weeks now.

Technology is an amazing thing and has reduced the challenges of hearing impairment to some degree. I have been using an electronic scope for 10 years or so. Currently it’s the littman 3100 which I was pleased with until I got my hearing aids. I was hoping that I would be able to use it with my CICs but that didn’t pan out. I’m really not comfortable having to remove my aids so frequently because of the risk of damage or loss. Way too much money invested! I’m more than likely going to give the new Thinklab One a try. It has the ability to link through a streamer directly into bluetooth enabled hearing aids. I also over the years have adapted to watching people closely for facial responses and body language to help with understanding. Maybe lip reading to some degree.

The bigger challenge with hearing loss to me is the response you get from people and I’m sure that the response isn’t limited to those working in the medical field. Too often their first response is that you are rude because you “ignore” them or that you are inattentive. Like you indicated Goldfish, people get irritated when they have to repeat themselves. It amazes me how they don’t consider it somewhat “rude” to talk to you while they have their nose buried in a chart or try to have a conversation with you when you are obviously on the phone. I’ve also come to the conclusion that a lot of people aren’t all that comfortable with facial contact during conversations.

For a long time I never told anyone about my hearing loss. But I got to a point where (maybe associated with my own frustrations) I decided it’s actually better for me to be upfront and let people know that I have a hearing problem. I think my co-workers in some ways were more excited than I was when I got my aids.

Enough about me :slight_smile:

BTW Kerry…I really admire your decision to dedicate yourself to raising your children. You won’t regret it :slight_smile: And by the time you are ready to re-enter the work force, who knows what advancments there will be in technology. I’ve often said that being hearing impaired really stinks but if there’s a perk it’s that you can get some really cool toys!

I am not in the medical field, but I do know two retired doctors with hearing loss: one retired because of it and the other retired for other reasons. The one that retired because of the hearing loss actually had designed a stethoscope years ago that had a hearing aid built into it and his audiologist put the whole thing together so he could hear the sounds he needed to hear(this was prior to electronic stethoscopes). Unfortunately, today his hearing is very bad even with HA’s and he is in the early stages of alzheimer’s disease, which his wife told me precludes him from a CI. The second doc’s hearing is also pretty bad, but he practiced until he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, had surgery and decided to retire 7 years ago. He never used an electronic stethoscope, but recently told me he probably should have. Doc #1 told me the reason for his retirement was not wanting to hurt or even kill someone in the OR because he didn’t hear something. My own mother was a nurse from 1944 to 1989 with a ten year break in the middle when I was born. She had hearing loss and bad tinnitus, but would never get HA’s because in her words " HA’s don’t work" and she based this on the fact that her own mother had hearing aids in the 40’s until she died in 1962, because of Otosclerosis and struggled to hear with the HA’s of the time. Mom died two years ago from stroke induced dementia at age 87, which was made worse because she couldn’t hear. I’m glad to see there are nurses who are doing something about their hearing loss, although when my mom retired her hearing didn’t seem to be bad enough to require HA’s

Patricia, I think you will have to go from your CIC aids to a BTE with a streamer to use a Bluetooth stethoscope. I also think being honest with those you deal with concerning your hearing loss is the best thing to do. I have done this ever since getting HA’s and it makes people be a lot more forgiving if you don’t respond to them or ask them to repeat something.


The beauty of the Thinklabs One is that it isn’t your tradition stethoscope. Totally unique. It’s basically a one piece unit that has been taken off the tubing. Instead it has a jack that you can plug earbuds or a headset into. Or I can use the cable that comes with it and connect it to my streamer. Looks awesome but expensive. But then the littman I’m currently using wasn’t cheap either. If you get a moment check out the website and you’ll see what I mean.

Regarding your mom and the doctors you know, I guess you’ve seen the articles linking hearing impairment/tinnitus with other diseases. Maybe one of these days insurance complanies will get the message and figure out that providing for hearing aids might just increase the chances that they will be shelling out even more less money later.


I’m really fascinated with the Thinklab stethoscope. It seems like something I will want to check out in the future. This is why I love this forum!!! There are so many people with so many experiences to share that I always learn something when I’m here:)

If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll know that I’ve often worked with marginalized populations, which, in my city, includes a disproportionately large percentage of HOH and d/Deaf people. It never failed to amaze me that hearing aids are considered “non-essential”! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve advocated for patients to receive funding for hearing aids, only to be told that they just need to learn ASL. But then when I asked if funding would provide my clients with an interpreter so they could function at a job, the answer was always no - that if they required an interpreter, they would need to pay for it themselves. Ugh. It will be interesting to navigate the system when I return to work.

Digressing a bit here, but in my city there was a huge news story a few months ago about a local politician who started using a hearing assistance dog to alert her to the many things she wasn’t hearing due to a progressive hearing loss that is now profound bilaterally. She works in the provincial government. The week that news story first aired, I was looking online at the responses to the article and newscast. There were a pile of people who wrote about their frustrations that hearing loss isn’t really recognized as a legitimate “problem”, nevermind a disability. I’m hoping that having one local member of parliament with significant hearing loss may at least raise some awareness about the issue of hearing loss and some of the needs of the HOH/(d)Deaf community.

Similarly digressing, there is a Deaf doctor in our city who just graduated. She uses ASL and an interpreter. She uses an electronic BP cuff, a stethoscope that provides a printout of what it hears (not sure what that is but it sounds amazing?!) in terms of breath sounds, bowel sounds, etc. She made it very clear that she’s hoping that more hard of hearing medical professionals will “come out of the closet”. It sounds like she may be an excellent role model and advocate for HOH and d/Deaf medical professionals in our city. I hope to meet her someday soon.

I haven’t yet had to deal with colleagues as a HOH person, so that will be interesting when I return to work. I can tell you that when I told a former colleague of mine that I was getting a hearing aid, her response was “Do you think you’ll be able to work again?” I was dumbfounded. Completely. Dumbfounded. If I had been a quick thinker, I would have asked her if she felt she would be able to work if her vision continued to worsen. She has very thick glasses… Anyway, ignorance is exactly that. Ignorance.


Unfortunately, insurance companies are like governments: they never think about tomorrow, just today, so I would be shocked if they ever passed any rules or laws regarding HA coverage. As for my mom, after her second mini stroke she was given an initial diagnosis of early stage Alzheimer’s disease by the neurologist that she was seeing and i believe it was so they just had to throw drugs at her. I kept telling my sisters that she didn’t have alzheimer’s but stroke induced dementia, because you don’t lose what my mom lost overnight with alzheimer’s, but they kept telling me the doctors know more than I did. It was about six months before she died that the new neurologist diagnosed her with stroke induced dementia, but told us basically that too much water had gone under the bridge to do any kind of therapy or retraining because six years had passed from her last stroke.

It’s kind of funny that most insurance companies do have policies you can get that covers eyeglasses, but very few have policies that cover HA’s. I would bet that if glasses cost $5-6,000 very few insurance Co. would offer the insurance though. Visual problems are a visible handicap, but a severe hearing problem is an invisible one. However, if the governments of countries got involved with helping people who need HA’s get them, the cost would go way down as it does with the buying power that Costco, the VA and the UK has through the NHS. Don’t know about the Canadian Govt. but the US Govt. would probably be too stupid to negotiate a reduced price and pay more than market for the HA’s they would buy and send us even further into debt.

But seb, you are talking about a government that spends thousands of dollars on making sure they have just the right toilet seat to set their tushy on and many more thousands of dollars to make sure they get the best star trak spoof in their conference and I could go on and on about the exemplary job our government does in allocating funds to the most benefial services for it’s citizens (you are catching my sarcasm here right?) Ok…making a vow to stay non-political in this forum.

LOL!!! It doesn’t seem the Canadian government is much different. I, too, will refrain from further political comments…

Oh, common now, if we don’t make our voices heard we will never get anything changed. Put pressure on these idiots that have gotten themselves elected by the voting public who seem to go into the voting booth and blindly pick someone without knowing what they stand for and what they plan to do if they are elected. We now need to make their lives miserable until they give we the people what we need and want and stop giving them and their friends what they want and don’t really need.

I wish there was a “Like” button on this forum, Seb! For the record, I DO actually go into the voting booth having done research on the candidates. The problem is, as we all know, that they often make great promises during their election campaigns but then don’t follow through with their promises once elected. That said, my local MLA has been very consistent at following through and actually listening to her constituents!

Returning to the original topic of this thread, does anyone know what’s going on with the “Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Loss” website? I’m not a member, but when I’ve googled their website recently - in the last few months - nothing has come up. In my opinion, the loss of that organization would be a significant loss to the HOH and d/Deaf medical community. Maybe they’ve moved to a Facebook page? If anyone has insight, I’d like to know.



I found their site by going through the Hearing Loss Association of America website (, click on support, scroll down to Careers/Employment and (AMPHL) is the 1st on the list. There is also Exceptional Nurse and Nursing Explorer are in the same section. I clicked on AMPHL and it took me to the site and it was up and running.

Tells me that user registration is currently not allowed. It looks like they are in the process of revamping their website

Thank you for the information on the AMPHL website, seb and Patricia. I wonder why I couldn’t find it using Google? It never occurred to me to try going through the HLAA website. Then again, I’m Canadian so I’m not all that familiar with HLAA.

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You are now! It’s not as active as this site, but it’s ok, nothing great, just ok.

Hi everyone,
I am a Respiratory Therapist and work in a busy hospital & I’m waiting on my 1st set of hearing aids. I just recently went to have my hearing tested because on occasion I either barley heard someone or didn’t hear someone speaking to me & at home I have the T.V volume to high & as hubbie what did they say . I am very nervous about the first time I will be wearing my BTE hearing aids do I come out and say something or do I let people ask me about them. I am also worried about losing them or dropping them because they are so expensive & using them with my stethoscope which is a Littmann . I have spoken to my audiologist about my concern using my Littmann & she said she would check into a couple of things but the rest I just don’t know.


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You can waste a lot of life worrying about what other people think dear :). We all have handicaps of some sort, just some are more obvious than others. Your co-workers have no doubt noticed that you have hearing issues and probably have had concerns, voiced or not, about your ability to do your job. How you handle it will probably vary depending on how well you know each of them and how comfortable you are with them. I’ve had nothing but positive reactions from people I work with.

Littman makes good scopes. I’m currently using an electronic 3100 but will soon be moving on to the Thinklabs scope because of the inability to use the littman with hearing aids in. I share your concern about loss or damage r/t having to take the aids out when I need to use my scope.

I would tell everyone that you work with or know that you are getting HA’s before getting them, it will make it a lot easier on you the 1st time you wear them as far as your being self consciousness or nervous goes. Trust me on this one, very few if anyone will notice that you have HA’s, the only ones that will: are children(they don’t mis much), other HA wearers and those that are looking at getting HA’s and that is about it. Even after I started wearing HA’s people I told that I was getting aids would come up to me and say “I thought you were getting HA’s” and I would tell them I did and then they would ask " where are they?" and with a couple of them I had to take one out and show them because they still didn’t believe me. So don’t worry to much about it, if you wear glasses you can probably remember what it was like the first day you wore them, with people asking questions and giving compliments about them, well wearing HA’s is nothing like that because people don’t look at your ears when they talk to you, so they probably won’t see or notice them.

As for loosing them or dropping them: They will be pretty secure in and on your ear, but you will find yourself checking if they are still there the 1st couple weeks of wearing them just to make sure, as long as your not doing anything crazy like wrestling in them they should stay put. If you want them to be really secure you could opt for a custom earmold, that will make them really hard to lose. Dropping them is another story, I always put mine in or take them out while I’m over a carpeted floor, a bed or something soft, just to make sure they don’t hit the hard floor, when I first got mine I took it out over a hard floor and dropped it and had to send it in for repair, so I don’t take chances anymore. It’s all a learning experience but you will adjust pretty quick.