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“Hopefully children who see me feel like they can achieve anything, and that hearing loss is not a barrier.”

Photograph of Amy Hurst
29 April 2022

Alice Hurst, Senior Audiologist

After finding out she would need hearing aids at a young age, Alice feels she’s now in a privileged position to be able to provide care to children with hearing loss of their own.

Alice said: “I have bilateral moderate hearing loss and wear two hearing aids. My own deafness helps me empathise with my patients and they can see that wearing hearing aids is not something to be ashamed of.”

For babies born today, the Newborn Hearing Screening test helps identify permanent hearing loss as early as possible. This means parents and carers can get the right support and advice quickly. When Alice was born this wasn’t available and so she doesn’t know when her own hearing loss developed.

Alice added: “It was picked up in school around the age of six by a teacher and I was fitted with two hearing aids. There was no family history of hearing loss, so it was a surprise to my parents.”

After Audiology was mentioned to her as a possible career option, Alice completed a degree in BSC Healthcare Science Audiology at De Montfort University in Leicester – “I was especially popular with the other students because they could practice on me!

“During my degree, I always had an interest in working with children. I needed to get some experience of working within the NHS before specialising in a certain area of Audiology. I had been interested in working at Sheffield Children’s for some time, but it was just a matter of waiting for the right job to come up and gaining some paediatric experience.”

When that job came up, Alice began at Sheffield Children’s in 2020 as Band 6 Paediatric Audiologist. She applied for an Access to Work grant, which provided technology to work alongside her hearing aids to help in meetings and appointments. 

Alice said: “I was given a microphone and FM receivers for my hearing aids. The microphone really helps, especially in virtual meetings as I can hear more clearly through my hearing aids.

“I work in the best place for someone with a hearing loss, as my colleagues and I spend our days communicating with children and young people who have hearing loss too. Being open with colleagues and not being afraid to ask for support when it’s needed will help you with your job.”

Alongside Alice, the Sheffield Children’s Audiology team assess and manage the hearing and balance problems of children and young people. Together they support patients with all types of hearing loss, complete assessments relating to listening difficulties, provide complex services such as bone-anchored hearing devices and support our patients’ transition into adult services.

Alice added: “I feel the care provided by our team is excellent. We have a range of different team members who work in the different specialisms we support including tinnitus, balance, and additional needs. We are continuously evolving, with new technology making sure our patients have the best hearing aids suitable for them. We also work alongside different departments including the Teachers of the Deaf services, Speech and Language Therapy and the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) team.”

Away from Sheffield Children’s, Alice is a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) ambassador and visits schools to give career talks.

She said: “I really enjoy going into schools and educating children about working in the NHS, especially introducing them to Audiology which is a relatively unknown job area. Hopefully it helps to inspire them to go into STEM careers too. One of my favourite activities is teaching pupils the alphabet in British Sign Language (BSL).

“I’m passionate about spreading awareness about hearing loss. I never had any experience of other children wearing hearing aids when I was younger and always felt like I was different. I feel it is very important and valuable for both the children and parents to see role models.

“Hearing loss in society is often seen as something which only affects older people and hearing aids are for older people. I think that the children and young people who see me hopefully feel like they can achieve anything, and that hearing loss is not a barrier.”

If you would like to find out more about our Audiology team, or find the right job for you, please visit our website.

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