Media - Sonova News Room
Practical training for optimal hearing solutions
There is no comprehensive, practical training available to produce qualified hearing care professionals in China. Sonova’s new training center – the Global Hearing Institute, in Suzhou – bridges this gap with advanced courses, and the company is also keen to communicate a new, customer-focused approach in its audiology courses.
Guang Yang focuses her eyes on her colleague’s ear and slowly inserts a thin tube. It’s a role-play, with her colleague taking the part of a customer with hearing loss for whom “in-situ measurement” is being carried out. The procedure measures the volume of sound directly in front of the eardrum so the device can be fitted perfectly. This young staff member from a local specialist audiology store is one of 16 participants attending a two-day product training course at Sonova’s new training center for hearing care professionals in Suzhou. They practice in pairs; a murmur fills the room, constantly punctuated by the gentle white noise that is played while measurements are taken.
China is one of the markets with the greatest potential for hearing aids worldwide, but there is no comprehensive, practical training available to produce qualified hearing care professionals; Sonova is bridging this gap with its training center. “We are extremely well-equipped and can do lots of hands-on exercises,” says Training Manager Henry Dai enthusiastically. “We have a soundproof room for hearing tests, for example, and eight workstations where you can learn how earmolds are correctly adjusted,” Dai continues, before taking a look over the course participants’ shoulders and lending a steady hand as required to help them insert the little tube.
The uptake of training courses by hearing care practitioners has been very strong. A workshop on pediatric hearing solutions was booked out so quickly that we decided to repeat the course shortly afterwards.
Bettina Turnbull, Managing Director of the Sonova Global Hearing Institute
The uptake of training courses by hearing care practitioners has been very strong, says Bettina Turnbull, Managing Director of the center since it opened in May 2017. “A three-and-a-half day workshop on pediatric hearing solutions was booked out so quickly that we decided to repeat the course shortly afterwards.” The course instructor was a female professor from Hong Kong, and the participants came from right across China. “We also invited children to attend so that the participants could immediately try out what they had learned,” says Turnbull.
The courses do not end once formal tuition is over, either: participants keep in touch with their trainers via chat and can contact them if they need advice on issues cropping up back in the workplace.
Turnbull has plenty of ideas for the future. For instance, she wants to partner with the Nanjing School of Electronic and Optical Engineering to offer certified courses for hearing care professionals. And why not encourage universities to hold summer schools at the Sonova Global Hearing Institute? “There will be regular training courses on topics such as cochlear implants, tinnitus and pediatric hearing solutions,” predicts Turnbull. “But we will also be offering brand-specific courses run by Phonak, Unitron and Advanced Bionics.”
Sonova is also keen to communicate a new, customer-focused approach in its training courses in Suzhou. “This is globally unique,” says Bettina Turnbull. “The advisory process and sales negotiations are not taught with such a focus on practical experience anywhere else.” A good consultation must address the question of customer lifestyles – whether they have children and what they would like to go back to doing if they could hear better, for example. “Only through extended dialogue can patients’ needs be precisely identified – and thus the ideal hearing solution chosen,” explains Turnbull.
In parallel, Sonova is establishing an interactive, online audiology academy to pursue the same objectives; it, too, is set to be launched in China. An international curriculum has been drafted for the program which will initially be offered in English and Chinese. “Course participants will be trained to analyze and solve problems using virtual customers who have a clinical history and specific hearing needs,” notes Turnbull. “We want to use both our training course options to perfect our analysis of hearing problems, thereby providing more and more people with professional hearing solutions.”