Ben Gillett is an audiologist who is studying on our MSc Advanced Audiology Studies (Paediatric Pathway) course. Here, he talks about his job, why he decided to take the course, and how it has helped both himself and the department he works in.
What I do
My current role is as the clinical lead for paediatric audiology for our service that covers Exeter, Mid and East Devon.
I plan and deliver the children’s audiology service for the area, and my workload is varied and often complex in terms of the children I see. I undertake a full range of testing from newborn to adult (0-24 years) including testing and diagnosing hearing loss in babies referred via the Newborn Hearing Screening service with diagnostic ABR.
We help families come to terms with a permanent hearing loss and the possible implications for them and their child, alongside other health professionals.
We fit hearing aids to babies/children and review these regularly, ensuring early appropriate amplification is in place and maintained throughout their time with our department. Behavioural testing methods vary according to the child’s age and development from VRA through performance testing to PTA.
I also liaise with and contribute to the local CHSWG and paediatric audiology interest groups.
How I got here
I started training in house in 2003, studying on block release and working in the department. I qualified in 2005 with a DipHE in Audiology and a BAAT practical assessment.
At this point, I had no interest in children’s services and was purely involved with adult audiology services. I found children unpredictable and, to be honest, terrifying.
As time progressed, I found adults to be routine, as they can usually tell you what the issue is. Conversely, I started enjoying the unpredictability of children and having to figure out if hearing was the issue for any developmental issues they were experiencing.
My clinical experience with children increased and my learning and expertise improved. My roles became more paediatrics-focused, and my skills improved mainly through in-house training from experienced colleagues.
Studying at Manchester
I am now in a situation where these experienced colleagues have left/are retiring and, in terms of the department, I am aware that we have had a lack of up-to-date learning.
I want our department to be delivering evidence-based practice in an efficient and timely manner, and was aware that without current learning, I can’t be assured that this was currently the case.
I chose to study at Manchester due to its excellent reputation and the fact that the MSc course has modular elements. I was able to tailor this to my interests and needs and learn at a pace to fit in with funding and time constraints.
The CPD online element has been extremely flexible and useful in terms of my job and family flexibility. Also, cover for clinics and other work responsibilities have been minimised, along with travel costs for the department.
I am studying as many paediatric elements within the course structure as possible to inform and ensure my practice, both at present and going forwards is effective and appropriate. I also want to disseminate this learning to the rest of the department, for their practice.
I have completed the Effective Amplification for children and Language Acquisition modules, and am currently studying the Developing Deaf Child module. Teaching has been of a high standard and delivered in an easy to access format, with clear objectives and how to achieve the stated requirements.
Online learning has been flexible and comprehensive with regular contact with lecturers and excellent tutorials, lectures and advice/extra contact where required.
It is reassuring to know that we have not needed to make substantial changes to practice, and that we can confirm current protocols while ensuring children and families are getting the best service we can currently provide.