"Audiology" is the study of hearing and hearing related disorders. An Audiologist is a "hearing health care professional" who identifies and assesses individuals with auditory (hearing) and/or balance concerns, problems or disorders. (Re)habilitation of hearing loss can be administered by an Audiologist through fitting of hearing aids and/or Assistive Listening Devices (ALD’s). You can find Audiologists in hospitals, community health centers, private practice offices, schools, universities and some doctors’ offices.
"Speech Pathology" involves the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders that relate to speech, language, swallowing, fluency, voice, and communication. A speech pathologist helps people who struggle with speech disorders because of developmental delays, stroke, brain injuries, learning disabilities, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and other problems that can affect speech. People who experience problems with stuttering, speaking clearly, swallowing, and other tasks that make speech challenging can receive the services of a speech pathologist in order to overcome such obstacles. By using standardized tests and assessment tools, the speech pathologist has the ability to diagnose specific problems of each patient. After diagnosing the problem, the speech pathologist devises a treatment plan that suits the needs of each specific patient that needs assistance.
An Audiologist is someone who holds a Masters degree in his or her field from an accredited university in order to just practice the profession. By virtue of their education, they are considered to be the most qualified professional to assess and make a non-medical diagnosis (e.g. type and severity) of hearing impairment. They can assist the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) physician in identifying certain pathologies of the ear and auditory system but Audiologists cannot diagnose the individual’s cause of hearing impairment.
To become a speech-language pathologist, you can earn a bachelor's in communication sciences and disorders or a related discipline and then enter a graduate program in speech-language pathology. If you didn't take general communication sciences and disorders coursework during your undergraduate years, you can enter a 1- to 2-year post-baccalaureate program to complete the required prerequisites for graduate school.
To practice as a speech-language pathologist, you must complete a 2-year master's or a 4-year doctoral (SLP.D.) program in speech-language pathology. The PhD in speech-language pathology is typically acquired for in-depth research into a particular area of interest.
Hearing Testing. Audiologists use specialized equipment to obtain accurate results about hearing loss. These tests are typically conducted in sound-treated rooms with calibrated equipment. The audiologist is trained to inspect the eardrum with an otoscope, perform limited ear wax removal, conduct diagnostic audiologic tests and check for medically-related hearing problems.
Hearing loss is caused by medical problems about 10% of the time Audiologists are educated to recognize these medical problem sand refer patients to ear, nose and throat physicians (known as otolaryngologists). Most persons with hearing impairment can benefit from the use of hearing aids, and audiologists are knowledgeable about the latest applications of hearing aid technology.
Speech-language pathologists work with people who cannot produce speech sounds or cannot produce them clearly; those with speech rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering; people with voice disorders, such as inappropriate pitch or harsh voice; those with problems understanding and producing language; those who wish to improve their communication skills by modifying an accent; and those with cognitive communication impairments, such as attention, memory, and problem-solving disorders. They also work with people who have swallowing difficulties.
Speech, language, and swallowing difficulties can result from a variety of causes including stroke, brain injury or deterioration, developmental delays or disorders, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, cleft palate, voice pathology, mental retardation, hearing loss, or emotional problems. Problems can be congenital, developmental, or acquired. Speech-language pathologists use special instruments and qualitative and quantitative assessment methods, including standardized tests, to analyze and diagnose the nature and extent of impairments.
Speech-language pathologists develop an individualized plan of care, tailored to each patient's needs. For individuals with little or no speech capability, speech-language pathologists may select augmentative or alternative communication methods, including automated devices and sign language, and teach their use. They teach patients how to make sounds, improve their voices, or increase their oral or written language skills to communicate more effectively. They also teach individuals how to strengthen muscles or use compensatory strategies to swallow without choking or inhaling food or liquid. Speech-language pathologists help patients develop, or recover, reliable communication and swallowing skills so patients can fulfill their educational, vocational, and social roles.
*Thirty-six states have continuing education requirements for licensure renewal.