Of all the workshops that we have conducted during this summer’s training in Vietnam, our audiology program was the most expanded from previous years.

We first integrated audiology training as part of our teacher training when we launched our Vietnam program in 2010. Back then, our focus was on preparing teachers to work with children with hearing loss who were learning to listen and talk. The audiology component was geared towards the classroom, overview of hearing technology, how hearing loss impacts child development, and other such elements that a teacher would need to understand in order to best serve a child with hearing loss. 

Following that first summer program, the teachers asked us to visit their schools to help them integrate the lessons learned. Our Mobile Mission series was born to do just that. In January 2011, our team of audiologists and auditory-verbal deaf education professionals visited schools and centers in Dalat, Danang, and Ho Chi Minh City. 

That experience demonstrated a need for more audiology training to support the professionals who were doing such audiological work in the schools. So, last summer 2011, we designed an audiology curriculum to provide more in-depth training on audiology concepts for staff in the schools.  The roster of attendees quickly expanded to include hearing aid dispensers, clinical audiologists, and medical staff from two of HCMC’s hospitals. That training was popular and well-received amongst the Vietnamese and so we enhanced our Mobile Mission in March 2012 to build on the concepts taught during the summer.

As we prepared for this summer’s training program, we received such broad interest in our audiology course from schools, clinics, and hospitals alike.  And so we developed three levels of training to match the expertise and needs of those who enrolled. Our enrollment more than doubled from 18 participants last summer to 44 this summer.

This week, the Level 2 and 3 audiology groups engaged in lecture, practicum, and clinics with families.  The lectures provided the theory, the practicum provided hands-on opportunities to learn the equipment and testing procedures, and best of all, the family clinics offered real-world experience of the test battery, hearing aid checks, and consultations with families of children with hearing loss.

 The Level 3 Vietnamese participants worked with the Global Foundation professionals to coach their Level 2 peers in working with these families.  So in addition to acquisition of knowledge and the confidence building that takes place when one can do the work themselves, we encouraged the train the trainer model that our Vietnam Deaf Education Program is founded on. One of the Vietnamese participants remarked how grateful she was to have a broader network of peers that she will be able to discuss audiology with ongoing.

The other benefit of the clinics was that we tested hearing of young children in our program. Making necessary adjustments to the hearing aids ensure they will hear as optimally as possible. We did fit hearing aids too but many of these families came with their own – some sourced from the Global Foundation during past summer programs or during the Mobile Missions.

Another highlight was the tack we took in measuring the Vietnamese progress.  As we did last year, the Vietnamese participants completed pre and post workshop written tests to measure their acumen and progression of knowledge over the course of the workshop. 

This year, we also added a competencies exam. Given the hands-on nature of our audiology program, we wanted a way to evaluate how well they are able to apply the theories and concepts taught in using the audiology equipment and evaluating real-world case examples.  Martha, Nadine, and Brad tested the participants on audiometry, tympanometry, and hearing aids. They provided some scenarios in which the participants had to explain how they would address and analyze specific issues and cases. The combination of the competencies exam with the pre/post written test will give us a great picture of where these Vietnamese audiology students are in their professional development.

In addition to the three levels of training at Thuan An Center, we also spent three days at Children’s Hospital to provide specific training to doctors and hearing health care professionals about ABR testing and cochlear implant mapping.  We will continue to work with the medical teams to develop opportunities to serve the hospital population so that the ENT doctors, technicians, and therapists are best prepared to work with children with hearing loss.

We marked the end of our audiology program for the summer with a warm goodbye ceremony and lots of good will on both sides. And so I send my heartfelt appreciation to the audiology team for their creativity and hard work – Nadine Palmeteer, Martha Harney, Brad McPherson, Lauri Nelson, Christi Sperry, Ada Lo, Cherry Li, and Libbey Golhofer – Thank You all and safe travels home!