The Making of Boutique Hearing LLC
Some people know what they want to do from a young age and are laser focused on that goal. I admire those people but that was not me. Growing up in a small town I was not even sure I would be able to afford to go to college. Turns out I could, and I did. Thank you, student loans! Yet, even after graduating I did not have any grand plans of starting my own practice. I was happy to finally be out of school, working in a medical setting to help people hear better, and even more happy to be paying down those student loans.
During my 20 years as an audiologist, I have worked in a variety of settings. Initially I worked in a medical center where I did everything from newborn hearing screenings to balance and dizziness testing. As a new grad this was a great fit for me. I embraced the variety and enjoyed being able to apply what I had learned. This also gave me the freedom to discover what I wanted to focus my career on. I found that I excelled in and enjoyed the challenge of helping people hear better. I especially enjoyed the challenges that came with completing hearing tests on the most active toddlers to the most resistant seniors. It gave me a sense of accomplishment when these same individuals later became willing and confident hearing aid users.
Back then hearing aid technology was progressing faster than ever before. It was an exciting time and I wanted to be a part of this evolution, so I shifted gears and accepted a position with one of the hearing aid manufacturers. I genuinely loved being that involved hearing aid production procerss but was also surprised at how much I missed working with patients. For this reason, I decided to return to the clinic working first for a private practice. Like many jobs private practice had its pros and cons. For me there was too much emphasis on selling hearing aids for my liking. Which led me back into a medical center where I could place my focus again on what was best for the patient. Talk about coming full circle.
Despite all the innovations in hearing aids and changes in my career I kept hearing the same complaint from my patients. Their hearing aids worked great when in my office but when they got home, they could not hear as well. This was so frustrating yet made sense. I could not accurately replicate the acoustics of their home in my office. I could not program for the sound of their heater, air conditioner, or the traffic noise from their window if I did not know it existed. Along the same lines I did not know what the dynamics were when they were speaking with their spouse. Were they sitting next to each other or in adjacent rooms? Was the TV or radio on in the background?
The more I thought about this the more I realized that it did not matter how advanced the hearing aid technology was if it was not programmed correctly. Why were we still fitting hearing aids in a quiet office when they were being worn in a noisy world. This dilemma was the flaw that led me to launch Boutique Hearing.
With my husband’s support and encouragement, I dared to step outside of the quiet medical office and onto my own path filled with all of life’s sounds. Now I work with my patients in their own homes. I have the luxury of making my own schedule so I can spend time with each patient thoroughly explaining their hearing loss and what hearing aids or assistive devices will work best for them. I am able to program and let my patients listen to various hearing aids prior to purchasing them. By doing this, patients experience and understand what a hearing aid can do for them and are able to make an informed decision when they are ready. Best of all is fitting the hearing aids right there in their homes with all its unique sounds and acoustics rather that in a quiet sterile office setting.
Since launching Boutique Hearing I have continuously worked to improve my business model based on what my patients need. When I see a patient or talk with a physician who appreciates what I have done I can’t help but think back on the beginning when I worried how my vision would be perceived. When others see and appreciate my vision, I am motivated to keep going and improving.
I take the time to understand the challenges and concerns people have when it comes to hearing aids and made it my goal to simplify the process for them. My mission was and still is simple, to improve the quality of lives through hearing. Was stating Boutique Hearing easy? No. Was I sure others would appreciate and understand the benefits of this new model? No. Did I believe in it enough to take the risk? Yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely!