International Women’s Day 2018 – Anna Pugh

We’re marking International Women’s Day 2018 by putting BSHAA members in the spotlight. You can see all 11 member profiles on the main page HERE

ANNA PUGH

What’s your current role in audiology?

I’m currently working for a family company delivering audiological services within host high street opticians practices. It’s a challenging new adventure!  I assess hearing acuity through a range of testing techniques, but the most important assessment tool is taking the time to talk to the person and their family. Finding out where they struggle to hear well, and then working together to make life, and communication, easier. As the company isn’t tied to any hearing aid manufacturer, I can consider the most appropriate technology for each individual from a wide range of aids and assistive devices. 

As a Hearing Therapist I can also offer advice and support for people with tinnitus, for people with Meniere’s Disease, and for people with dual sensory impairments and other support needs, as well as lipreading and auditory training to augment hearing aid amplification. As well as my day job, I’m a member of BSHAA’s Council.

When did you first know you wanted to be an audiologist?

I think I first realised I wanted to help people communicate better when I worked in a long-stay mental health hospital, resettling people with very complex needs into smaller community-based accommodation. Many of the people there had limited verbal communication skills; some were self-harming, some because they had no other way to communicate, some because their tinnitus was all they could hear. I worked with an ENT Consultant who showed me how to “test” hearing loss and how to develop communication strategies. I was hooked! I went on to study at the City Lit Centre for Deaf People, where I had to learn to use British Sign Language very quickly, or not get a cup of tea! And that’s been my story ever since… However, my mother will tell you that when I was very small I had watched a movie about a deaf girl called Mandy, and I had said then I wanted to be a teacher with deaf people.

What’s the best thing about being an audiologist?

Being able to learn all the time. It never stops. There’s always new technology, new ideas about testing protocols, new ideas about delivering best practice. I love having students to share my time as the question why I do things which in turn forces me to question my practice. We get the privilege of spending real quality time with people, and they confide in us. We see people progress from “nope, I haven’t got a hearing loss, I don’t need hearing aids” to “This is the best thing I’ve ever done, I wish I’d got them sooner”. It’s not always wine and roses, (and cakes, and chocolates, and raspberry bushes, and pots of home-made jam), but it can be a great job.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

I’m proud of the students I worked with who have gone on to be very successful. I’m proud of being a member of BSHAA Council, and hope that I can continue to contribute to the profession. I’m proud of all those patients who took a leap of faith in my advice, and are coping well with their hearing and/or their tinnitus.

Any advice for other women who want to become an audiologist?

When I started in audiology, most audiologists in private practice were men. Most senior NHS audiology managers were men. Now more women are joining the profession than men. Audiology is all about people: communicating, listening/paying attention and learning from each other, and it doesn’t pay too badly either. With the new pathways into the profession, earning and working can be possible, so as a career change choice, or new to work, audiology can be challenging, interesting (I’ve never heard of a bored audiologist), creative, demanding, lucrative, and offering career progression. There’s always going to be people with hearing difficulties. We may deliver audiological services in different ways in the future, but it’s not a career that is likely to be obsolete for some time.