Hearing & Balance Doctors

What is a Doctor of Audiology?

What is a Doctor of Audiology?

What is a Doctor of Audiology?

by | Nov 1, 2015 | News, Patient Resources

At Hearing & Balance Doctors, we employ only doctors of audiology. It is one thing that makes our clinic great and sets us apart from other clinics in the region.

People sometimes ask us, “What is a doctor of audiology?”

A doctor of audiology is a professional with a clinical doctorate – similar to an optometrist or a dentist – that specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of hearing and balance.

In order to become a doctor of audiology, one typically majors in the hearing sciences as an undergraduate in college.

After obtaining a 4-year undergraduate degree, the audiology student attends a 4-year doctoral program. This doctoral training includes extensive clinical training under professional supervision and a year-long residency/internship.

It also involves rigorous scholastic training and research. Upon graduating, the student receives a doctor of audiology degree, abbreviated Au.D.

How long have audiologists been around?

Audiology is a relatively new profession. It has its origins in treating soldiers with noise-induced hearing loss after World War II.

For many years, audiologists received master’s-level training (4 years of undergraduate work and a 2-year master’s program).

In the mid-1990s, schools began transitioning to a 4-year doctoral program. In 2007, all audiologists were required to have a doctoral degree to enter the field.

Audiologists with master’s degrees were allowed to continue to practice with their master’s degree or to receive additional training and “upgrade” to an Au.D.

In addition to doctors of audiology and master’s-level audiologists, there are other individuals that deal with hearing aids.

Hearing Aid Distributors

Hearing instrument specialists are individuals that sell hearing aids at hearing aid shops or “dispensaries.”

The level of clinical competence can vary greatly with hearing instrument specialists.

They are not qualified to assess or treat dizziness or tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and they are not doctors (although they often portray themselves as such).

The qualifications necessary to become a hearing instrument specialist (and to sell a hearing aid) also vary from state to state. In many states, the requirements include a high school diploma (or equivalent), a certain number of hours of clinical observation, and passing a hearing aid dispensing examination.

Advanced Audiological Care

At Hearing and Balance Doctors, we pride ourselves in providing the highest quality of care to our patients.

As part of that commitment, we employ only the most highly trained professionals to diagnose and treat hearing and balance disorders: doctors of audiology.

Come meet with our doctors today and experience the difference!


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Dr. Ryan Whitaker

Dr. Whitaker joined Hearing & Balance Doctors of Utah in 2009. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Brigham Young University in 2005 with his Bachelors of Science in Audiology and Speech Pathology. He then received his Doctor of Audiology from the University of Arizona where he minored in Cognitive Neuroscience (the study of how people perceive sound). While at the University of Arizona, he specialized in evoked potentials, specifically researching Cortical Auditory Evoked Potentials and the Acoustic Change Complex. He gained clinical experience at Tucson Ear, Nose, and Throat; St. Joseph’s Hospital Balance Center; Arizona Hearing Specialists; and the Center for Hearing Impaired Children. Dr. Whitaker was raised in Orem, Utah with three older sisters and a younger brother (who is also an audiologist). His grandfather was a cartoonist for the Walt Disney Studios where he drew Donald Duck and many characters in Peter Pan, Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland before starting the BYU Motion Picture Studio. Dr. Whitaker is married and has three sons. He is passionate about college football and also enjoys hiking in Southern Utah, reading, and traveling. He has traveled extensively through South Asia including Thailand, India, Nepal, and a church mission to the Philippines.

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