Audiology at Manchester: The lowdown

Elisha Jawaid is an Audiology graduate from The University of Manchester who for the past two years has been working in the independent sector as a Hearing aid Dispenser. It is her job to independently test people’s hearing, advise on hearing care and, where necessary, supply and fit hearing aids and other communication devices. Below, Elisha talks us through the degree programme that helped her to secure such an important job role just months after graduating…

As an audiologist, I am often asked “So what made you want to study ears?” My answer to this has always been because audiology is so much more than just ears! The heart of the profession lies in being able to understand the real-life implications of hearing loss and how it impacts your patient’s world. This can be from helping a newborn hear their mother’s voice for the first time to reconnecting an elderly patient who is feeling lonely and isolated due to their hearing loss.

With the aid of cutting-edge diagnostics and revolutionary hearing aid technology, an Audiologist can empower and support patients, restoring their world one sound at a time. It is truly a special and heart-warming moment seeing your patient’s face light up when you turn on a hearing device. For me, there is nothing more rewarding than sharing the joy of sound.

The University

When I reflect on my time in Manchester, I feel extremely lucky to have been taught at such a prestigious and renowned institution. The University of Manchester has a pioneering and influential background in driving innovation within the world of audiology.

The course itself is led by internationally recognised lecturers who are working at the cutting edge of their discipline within research or senior clinical posts. This ensures a high calibre of teaching whereby course content is rooted within the latest evidence-based knowledge with clear guidance on its clinical application.

The placements

One of the many highlights of the curriculum taught at Manchester is that the course offers a very comprehensive and tailored clinical placement programme. This includes 50 weeks of ongoing practical experience in a dynamic range of clinical settings, including the NHS, the independent sector and state of the art laboratories.

This means you are diagnosing and treating patients within a supported environment right from the offset! This not only helps to build your confidence and communication skills, but also gives you the opportunity to implement what you have learned in lectures in real time, within real clinical situations!

The teaching

As with any degree, there is a certain workload and expectation to be proactive in your learning. Thankfully, though, all of our lecturers had an ‘open-door’ policy, and therefore whenever I felt that I needed further support or guidance, all I had to do was raise my hand in lectures, drop an email or arrange a meeting.

The lecturers at Manchester are not only extremely knowledgeable in their field but are also deeply passionate when it comes to teaching and inspiring students, and this came across in their availability to go that ‘extra mile’. Having been student rep for three consecutive years on the programme, I am proud to say the staff at Manchester are committed to providing the best learning environment and experience for their students.

The personal awards

My personal highlight from the course would be when I was honoured to receive two prestigious awards. In recognition of achieving the highest mark from my cohort, I received the Academic achievement award by the Manchester Academy for Healthcare Scientist Education

I was further delighted to receive the Oticon Student of the Year Award from the British Academy of Audiology. I was nominated for this award by both the University and my clinical placement team, mainly in recognition of my research project on patient-centred care, a topic very close to my heart.

By receiving this award, I was invited to the internationally recognised Eriksholm Research centre in Denmark to take part in their summer programme. In doing so I was lucky enough to meet audiologists from all over the world, sharing ideas and gaining an insight into the rapidly developing future of Audiology.

Audiology and COVID-19

Given the current situation with COVID-19, an audiologist’s job has never been more crucial. With many of our patients falling in what is classified as the vulnerable group, it is imperative that they are hearing well in order to communicate with loved ones safely, alongside being able to hear and understand the latest government guidelines.

I am proud to say that the world of audiology has been quick to react, with our governing bodies issuing strict protocols and guidelines, ensuring we can continue providing essential services in the safest way possible. As always, patient wellbeing and protection is our top priority.

My advice to prospective students

My advice to prospective students considering audiology is to try and get involved in some volunteering, as this demonstrates key skills such as communication and compassion.  

There are also some highly informative and educational online sources you can access. I would recommend looking at NHS Health Careers, the Manchester Healthcare Science (Audiology) page and registered hearing loss charities such as Action on Hearing loss.

Audiology is truly a rapidly growing and evolving field, with huge potential for growth and great career prospects!  If you are looking for a career that is genuinely morally rewarding, with the perfect combination of medical and technical knowledge, then audiology would be the ideal choice for you!

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