- POSTED: 03 Oct 2013 11:15
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A new Master of Science in Audiology degree course has been officially launched at the National University of Singapore (NUS). It is to beef up the number of locally-trained audiologists who will be needed to meet the growing needs of the hearing impaired.
SINGAPORE: A new Master of Science in Audiology degree course has been officially launched at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
This is the first local programme to train audiologists and it hopes to beef up the number of locally-trained audiologists who will be needed to meet the growing needs of the hearing impaired.
Audiologists work with ear, nose and throat doctors to evaluate hearing and ear-related balance disorders, fit hearing aids and assistive learning devices as well as middle and cochlear inner ear implants.
The two-year programme started in August 2013 with 18 students, aged 22 to 46, in its pioneer batch at NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.
Some examples of the modules include: Paediatric Audiology, Vestibular Assessment & Management, Clinical Audiology and Hearing Devices & Rehabilitation.
The programme is open to full time working adults and fresh degree holders with a Bachelor's degree from a recognised university.
Learning how to measure hearing ability is quite a big change for Maureen Ding who decided to make a mid-career switch after working in the finance sector for twenty years.
The first-year student experienced a mild episode of hearing loss herself following a viral infection two years ago.
"That sort of triggered my interest as well because I went through a period where I actually had difficulty hearing in noisy places so that was actually quite distressing for me," she recalled.
"I went through a process of seeking treatment, seeing an ENT doctor, so it was kind of an eye-opening experience."
Under the two-year course, Maureen, along with her peers, will learn specialised skills such as evaluating ear-related balance disorders and fitting hearing aids, and middle and cochlear inner ear implants.
A research component will also focus on genetics and regional infections.
S$19.5 million has been donated by Siemens Medical Instruments to help fund the programme over eight years.
Part of the funding was used for the development and outfitting of an Audiology SMART classroom.
More audiologists needed
There are currently only 60 audiologists in the public and private sectors in Singapore. These audiologists received their training overseas.
The National Health Survey in 2010 found that one in five Singaporeans between 50 and 59 years old and one in four between 60 and 69 years old suffer from some degree of hearing impairment.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who inaugurated the event on Thursday, said as the population ages, the manpower pool for audiologists needs to be grown to meet healthcare needs.
A larger pool of audiologists could also help raise awareness on the importance of hearing well.
Associate Professor Lynne Lim, who is the course programme director, said: "If we have more audiologists, we are able to right site the care at the community level. If we are able to have the audiologists, not just in hospitals, but around the neighbourhood, in the polyclinics, I think that would really increase the access and encourage more patients to come."