Stretching My Doctorate…

Rebecca Berger, Doctor of Audiology

I am very proud of my AuD (Doctor of Audiology) designation. I often have to explain what it means. I have advanced degrees in Audiology. I am not just a technician that fits you with a hearing aid… I am trained in the theory and practice of how my equipment works, how hearing aids work (and don’t work!), the interaction of the hearing aid with various types of hearing loss, the interactions of various drugs with hearing as well as a myriad of other hearing related information. I also am trained to recognize the physical causes of your hearing loss that might require you to see a physician and possibly a specialist such as an ENT. I participate in yearly continuing education to maintain my license, advance my knowledge and keep current on the latest technology and practices that I can use to help my patients.

When a patient mistakes my degree for a medical degree, I am quick to correct them. I am not qualified or licensed to dispense specific medical advice outside my defined limits. I am not able to write prescriptions for medicines. I often recommend a visit to a patient’s family physician for further evaluation if I feel that there is a health issue that needs to be addressed in conjunction with the hearing loss. That said, I’ve been pressed into other roles this past month!

Lions Club Shelter at Centennial Park

I am a member of the Plymouth Lions Club. On Labor Day Weekend, I was one of the volunteers serving food, or more accurately, acting as cashier, for the Lions Club Fundraiser at the Blueberry Festival. A festival-goer came to the pavilion and asked if they could have a seat as they were not feeling well and the heat was affecting them. Seconds later, I found myself holding them, slumped in my arms, as they passed out and vomited. I took control, organized help to get her settled and directed calls to get her medical attention.

Pulaski Memorial Hospital

Our satellite office is at Pulaski Memorial Hospital in Winamac. I am there two days a month. On a recent day there, a staff member came into my office, distraught over a patient. I sat with them and comforted them until someone from the hospital could help. I often feel like a marriage counselor when dealing with spouses with hearing loss, but this was a bit outside my realm!

I’m sure my years of working with the Medical Doctors who were my previous employers helped me deal with these issues. Doctors Brooks, Kletzing, Saine and McTigue were all compassionate professionals, dedicated to their patients’ care. They set a great example and I respected them all. I was glad that I was able to step up in these recent situations when others were unable to do so. But it has also reaffirmed my understanding that everyone should have some basic emergency medical training. My Doctorate didn’t apply here, but my compassion and basic knowledge let me be a Good Samaritan when one was needed.