Dr Courtney Caron, an Audiologist from the United States takes us through a day in her life as a Sound Seekers volunteer in Malawi.
There is no such thing as a typical day. Every day is different. The needs are different. The patients are different. What is needed from me is different. I have to prioritise what is needed most on any particular day. One thing is for sure though, a day in the life of an audiologist in Malawi is never boring.
Having dodged the chaos of Blantyre’s streets where carts loaded with the fruit of the season, bicycles loaded with charcoal or goats and ladies carrying 20 litres of water on their heads, weave in and out of the traffic. I spend the first half an hour answering emails from Sound Seekers, audiology equipment manufacturers, potential volunteers, other NGOs and the Ministry of Health.
Patients start arriving around 8am for various appointments: hearing tests, vestibular/balance assessments, ear mould impressions, hearing aid fittings, etc. There are usually one or two audiology officers taking patient histories and doing various tests but as the only audiologist in Blantyre, I try and review all patients’ tests and recommendations or assist with complex cases. Patients vary as much as my daily activities. I may see a 90 year old man with hearing loss due to old age, a three year child who has suffered from cerebral malaria, a 25 year old man with Down’s syndrome or a 40 year old woman who has received an antibiotic that is known to cause hearing loss. Each patient is different and requires a different way to diagnosis and treat them. It takes experience and knowledge as well as a little creativity to ensure all patients receive appropriate care.
There is one audiology officer in training and he requires some additional time from me to help with reviewing assignments, understanding intricate ideas or having additional hands-on training in order to help him succeed in his course. I also have management activities to do in order to keep the Sound Seekers’ project and the audiology department running smoothly. We are in the process of building a comprehensive audiology clinic so I have to do tasks such as identifying where the electrical outlets should be and sort through quotations to furnish the building. My day ends around 5pm and I return home through the chaotic streets of Blantyre.