International Women’s Day 2018 – Karen Finch

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

KAREN FINCH

“When I started as an audiologist, hearing care was very much a man’s world; now there are lots and lots of women practising audiology”

What’s your current role in audiology?

Although in my heart I am an audiologist with a burning passion for helping people with hearing loss, The Hearing Care Centre forces me to be a businesswoman too; I’m Managing Director and although that doesn’t mean I have to make every decision, I do have a team of 25 people and 25 out-reach clinics to worry about! So, much of my time is spent planning our future, discussing these plans with work colleagues, encouraging them, praising their success and training. I love training people and seeing their potential unfold into a successful career pathway. I also see patients several days a week – this is the part I love!  Chatting to people, finding out their hearing problems and prescribing the right solution to help them enjoy their lives to the full once more.

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

If I’m honest, my ambition to become an audiologist only came when I had successfully reached the top in hearing care management. Having started as a receptionist I became Company Secretary, helping my employer at that time develop their business. I was born into a medical family of doctors, nurses, a chemist and a vet, so in some ways it may have been inevitable that I took a medically related pathway. But when I left school I wanted to run a hotel!

What’s the best thing about being an audiologist?

It was then I realised how much satisfaction there was to be had from actually working with the patients to solve their communication issues. Hearing loss is about losing the ability to communicate as effectively as you would want to. I began the training and in 1998 I passed the exams with merit and another hearing aid audiologist was born. It was a little while after this that I re-mortgaged my home and, having found suitable premises, set up my own company.

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

I’m lucky enough to have proud moments every day. They come when a patient I’ve fitted with hearing aids says: “These hearing aids have changed my life”.  I was also immensely proud when I was elected President of our professional body, the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists. I’ve had the privilege of accepting both national and regional awards and this year The Hearing Care Centre celebrates 20 years. I do not know where that time has gone – it’s been an incredible journey.

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

When I started as an audiologist, hearing care was very much a man’s world; now there are lots and lots of women practising audiology, with a new workforce studying at degree level and – if I dare to look to the future – we hope that the apprenticeship route will be another way of entering the profession. Staring into people’s ears isn’t for everyone, so I’d advise would-be students to spend a little time with their local hearing care specialist before committing themselves to full-time study.