Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
After successfully participating in an intensive three-week program for his severe stutter, Dr. Peter Loring was determined to become a speech pathologist and help others like himself. Instead, after being exposed to hearing sciences as part of his required coursework, he found his calling in the fascinating world of audiology. His experience as a professional musician and sound engineer made sense, and he could positively affect the lives of individuals with hearing loss.
A no-nonsense approach
“I knew I ultimately wanted to have my own practice and put ‘doctor’ on the door,” he said, so he earned his Doctor of Audiology degree in 2000 while running a department for a large ENT practice. Then, after observing how to run a successful medical practice, he purchased Audiology and Communication Services in Commack, New York in 2006. There, staff take a very personal approach with patients and are focused on quality of care. Dr. Loring sees every patient personally on a quarterly basis. Patients can opt for a two-week free trial period before purchasing their hearing aids.
Dr. Loring became hearing aid wearer himself after suffering a sudden hearing loss in 2006, and as a result, he can relate to his patients in a unique way. “The advantage that I’ve got is that I’m able to smile at patients and tell them that I absolutely refuse to carry crap (products),” he said frankly. “Patients ask me what I’m wearing. I am honest and upfront. I would love to be able to say the reason for our success is that we’re utterly fantastic audiologists, but the truth is if we counsel patients well, and fit them appropriately, Oticon aids sound good right out of the box and we don’t have to work as hard to make the patients happy.”
“The bottom line and reason I give people two weeks to wear them free of charge? No pressure,” he said. “They can get an honest impression of whether aids are working for them. When you give them an opportunity to see what it’s all about, there’s no buyer’s remorse.”
Dr. Loring believes receiver-in-the-ear hearing aids are the one of the biggest breakthroughs in recent history because they provide comfort and discretion to the patient. This technology, which Oticon made available in 2006, is only one of the many recent advancements from hearing device manufacturers. The fast changing hearing device technology landscape can be challenging for professionals — one Dr. Loring thinks they should embrace.
“As an audiologist, you just can’t be afraid of the technology.” – Dr. Loring
“Every day I come to work, I jump in my truck, push the yellow button and wait for the engine to turn over so I can drive. I don’t question why it works. The same thing translates to my patients. They don’t care how their aid works or why it works, they just want to be able to turn it on and have it alter their lives.”
Up to the challenge
One of Dr. Loring’s favorite success stories involves a very skeptical particle physicist who was convinced that wearing hearing aids would be detrimental to his career.
“As I’m counseling him, he says, ‘Peter, you’ve got to understand that to someone of my intellect, the prospect of wearing two hearing aids is overwhelming and I’m not sure it’s time.’” I asked him to consider the possibility that his hearing loss was undermining his professional credibility. When you are unable to communicate and cannot answer questions the first time, people may not assume you can’t hear. Instead they may question your knowledge and authority.
Dr. Loring made his point. The patient left with a pair of hearing aids and the customary free trial period. When he returned for his checkup a week later, he said, “I’ve just got one question. Do you take American Express?” “He told me that with the hearing aids he was able to figure out all of the things he was unable to for quite a long time,” Dr. Loring said.
From skeptical physicists to pediatric patients who are unable to communicate verbally at their first appointment, Dr. Loring welcomes the challenge. He prides himself in knowing his patients on a personal level and doing what it takes to address their individual hearing health needs, regardless of their age.
Of his role in helping his patients, he says, “When I first saw some of these (pediatric) kids, their ability to produce a coherent sentence was close to nonexistent. These kids come in now and do not stop talking. They grow up, develop, and I’ve played a huge role in that. I love it!”
The first step to hearing your best is to find a qualified hearing care center in your community and have your hearing evaluated. If you aren’t hearing as well as you used to and want to find a hearing healthcare professional like Dr. Loring, visit Healthy Hearing’s directory of qualified professionals.