In this article, we will be covering...
People’s ears, noses, and throats are often body parts that are more taken for granted than the other, more critical ones. The recurring health conditions lead to more serious results like chronic sore throats, sleep deprivation, and hearing loss that affects 280 million people.
Instead of managing these issues on your own, it is best to consult medical professionals such as an audiologist, an ENT specialist, and a speech-language pathologist who are experts in these fields.
Comparing Audiologist vs ENT vs Speech-Language Pathologist
Audiologists, ENTs, and SLPs share similar characteristics, but they have distinct variations in terms of their training programs, treatment focus, and other aspects of their careers.
In a nutshell:
- Audiologists detect auditory abnormalities and conduct hearing tests
- Speech-language pathologists specialize in communication problems, assisting patients in managing and resolving issues that impair their ability to communicate with others.
- ENT specialists focus on administering surgery or treatment for the eyes, nose, and throat.
All three professions require professionals to complete a graduate program as a requirement for professional practice. Graduate programs also open doors to career development opportunities.
Choose graduate programs with scholarships and financial aid options to help you reduce high graduate degree costs!
Let’s dig deeper into these professions and find out how they differ from one another!
The two origins of the word audiology are audio and logy. “Audio” means “to hear,” and “logy” means “the study of.” Essentially, audiology is the study of hearing; as balance also depends on the inner ear, this aspect of the science is also included. It is a field of research that involves specialized knowledge and innovative techniques, focusing on diseases related to hearing, balance, and related senses in the medical sense.
Audiology employs cutting-edge technology together with medical knowledge. Audiologists are those who work in the field of audiology. Audiologists are in charge of treating and rehabilitating balance and hearing impairments.
Audiologists hold doctorates in Audiology from recognized audiology schools and gain training to treat a variety of patients across all age spectrums, including older adults and newborns.
Conditions That Audiologists Treat
- Balance disorders result from disruptions to the inner ear equilibrium, such as trauma or ear infection, and can cause some dizziness.
- Hearing disorders are common and treated by an audiologist by determining the precise degree of hearing impairment and planning a course of action for treatment.
- Tinnitus is characterized by a persistent and unsettling ringing or noise that many describe as a low-intensity buzzing or whistling sound.
- Hyperacusis is the heightened sensitivity to common noises in a typical setting.
- Misophonia is a selective sensitivity to minute, repeated noises.
Audiologist Education and Training
You need to have a bachelor’s degree and complete preparatory courses in Biology, Statistics, and Psychology.
For the purpose of future professional practice, new audiologists need to have a PhD. If you have a bachelor’s degree in any subject, you can apply to the four-year doctorate program in audiology (AudD). Your courses in an Audiologist degree online or on-campus will be tailored-fit based on your chosen specialization.
- Vestibular Audiology
- Pediatric Audiology
- Hearing Conversation
- Philanthropic Audiology
- Educational Audiology
- Forensic Audiology
Students typically complete a clinical internship or externship in their last year of study. They will work under the guidance of a seasoned audiologist.
Otolaryngology, otherwise referred to as “Eyes, Nose, and Throat,” is the US’ oldest medical specialty!
Otolaryngologists are physicians with sufficient training in the medical and surgical management and treatment of disorders in the ear, nose, and throat both in adults and children. They also diagnose and treat associated diseases in head and neck structures, including the sinuses, neck and face, oral cavity, voice box, and mouth and throat.
They are known as “ENT doctors” or “ENT specialists” most of the time because the acronym is easier to remember than “otolaryngologists.”
Conditions That ENTs Treat
- Sinus pain manifests through a throbbing pressure or soreness around the eyes, forehead, and nose. Without urgent treatment, it can lead to chronic sinusitis.
- Chronic nasal congestion is indicative of sinusitis, an infection or inflammation of the sinus cavity lining tissues because of an overabundance of mucus.
- Sleep issues are a result of people’s inability to breathe properly, as caused by snoring, sleep apnea, nasal and airway blockage, and sleep-disordered breathing.
- Hearing loss happens to people who have had prolonged exposure to noisy environments. It can also be caused by aging. ENT experts collaborate closely with audiologists, who evaluate a person’s ability to hear.
- Chronic sore throat or prolonged pharyngitis is distinct from sporadic scratchiness in the throat. Characterized by a swelling in the back of the neck, this condition can be extremely painful and makes it hard for patients to talk or swallow.
- Severe ear infections, which are common in young children and some adults, may be indicative of sinusitis, severe allergies, or bacterial infections.
- Facial plastic and reconstructive surgery help improve facial structures following an accident, injury, birth deformity, or adverse medical condition.
ENT Education and Training
Like any profession, it all starts with a bachelor’s degree, and it’s the same requirement if you want to practice being an ENT physician. You must have this degree to be accepted to the top medical schools. Some undergraduates opt to study a related subject, such as Biology or Chemistry, while others pursue a bachelor’s degree in Pre-Medicine.
In med school, Otolaryngology students must begin, and eventually complete, their residency.
The MCAT exam, a prerequisite for US medical schools, may be waived if you intend to pursue the MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) that is its MD (Doctor of Medicine) equivalent.
Speech-Language Pathologist Overview
A speech-language pathologist assesses swallowing or speaking issues and conducts speech therapy. They offer therapeutic support and monitor your progress over time.
Conditions that SLPs Treat
- Swallowing disorders affect patients who have trouble swallowing or feeding themselves following a medical procedure, stroke, or injury.
- Speech disorders manifest as stuttering and voice box issues that are innate or brought on by trauma.
- Language disorders affect a patient’s ability to express themselves by speaking or understanding others as a result of innate issues or exposure to unhealthy environments that affect their social capability.
- Social communication disorders are evident in patients who cannot perform verbal and nonverbal communication, often as a result of catastrophic brain injury or autism.
- Cognitive-communication disorders affect a patient’s ability to communicate while thinking clearly, focusing on others, or recalling specific details. A stroke, traumatic brain damage, or even the start of dementia might be the cause of this.
To treat speech and language disorders in patients, speech pathologists must be aware of the patient’s hearing problems and utilize the latest techniques in therapy that are integral to the specialized treatment.
Speech-Language Pathologist Education and Training
If you want to pursue a speech language pathology career, it’s best to understand the education and training required. The key is to look for the top SLP programs accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation.
One of the most important prerequisites for becoming an SLP is earning a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Communication Sciences, English, Education, Linguistics, or Language Development. Make sure the bachelor’s degree you choose correlates to your overall goals.
The next step is to obtain an on-campus or online master’s in Speech Language Pathology. The language therapy curriculum offers the benefit of frequently fusing academic study with practical clinical experience.
Graduates of speech pathology masters online and in-person programs must complete their clinical practice to meet the national certification requirements established by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
While earning an SLP degree tends to be expensive, you can find affordable online speech pathology programs with financial aid programs available to qualifying students.
An SLP’s earnings are based on a number of factors, including education, experience, location of practice or type of employer.