Imagine packing up all your belongings, leaving behind your hometown and moving across the country. That’s exactly what Sam Johnson, ’21AUD, assigned to his clinical rotation at the Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI)
, decided to do in order to pursue his dream.
Johnson graduated from California State University, Northridge in 2013. During his time there, a professor piqued his interest in the audiology profession.
“I had a professor who was an audiologist and he would lecture for three hours’ straight while never looking at slides,” Johnson said. “You would think that would be boring but for me, it was really inspiring, and I was always fascinated.”
Soon after graduation, Johnson went on to work as a hearing aid dispenser.
An audiologist is licensed and trained to diagnose, treat and monitor all aspects of the hearing and balance system. Hearing aid dispensers are licensed and trained to perform basic testing with the sole purpose of fitting a person with hearing aid devices.
“As a dispenser, I found that there would be questions that I didn’t have the answer to and I would have to refer patients back to their doctor,” Johnson said. “Finally, I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t I go back to school and become the doctor?”
Johnson is now a first-year student in the University’s Osborne College of Audiology (OCA)
. During the first semester, OCA students observe at PEI and by their second semester, they are already practicing hands-on skills and conducting basic hearing tests. During their fourth year, students in the program have a one year externship
, usually completed at a single site.
For Johnson, working with patients at PEI has helped reinforce his passion to learn.
“Now I’m able to learn why things are done. As a hearing aid dispenser, I learned how to do things, but I didn’t always understand the why,” he said.
Upon graduation in 2021, Johnson plans to go into private practice as an audiologist.
“As an audiologist, it’s about more than just hearing aids,” he said. “Ultimately I want to be in a position where I can help patients with their complete hearing and balance needs and improve their quality of life.”