Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
Audiologist Lisa Alber never thought she’d become a business owner, but when an unsatisfying work environment made her question her career path, she took a leap of faith and started her own practice. Today, the move has paid off for her as well as for the residents of Greenfield, Massachusetts.
“The idea of owning a practice is not anything I ever thought I wanted to do, but I was beginning to not like what I was doing anymore in the setting I was in,” she said of the rehab hospital she worked in for 15 years. “I moved my practice to a new location and people followed me. It allows me to work with patients the way I want to, which is to allow as much time as I want with them, be accessible and manage my own schedule. It allowed me to love what I do again, that’s for sure.”
A knack for problem solving
Dr. Alber, who says she has a “oh-I-can-fix-that-right-now” mentality when it comes to her patients and their hearing loss, said she originally wanted to be a speech pathologist and work with children. After taking an audiology class in college, she realized she liked that career path better. “I liked the science behind audiology. I also enjoy the geriatric population, so it was a perfect fit for me. I don’t have the stomach for nursing, but I have a passion for patient care. With audiology, I can help someone right away and fix the problem.”
The patient care philosophy at Alber Hearing Services is to treat every patient as if they are a member of the family. The staff is friendly and accommodating. Patients know they can walk in during office hours if their hearing aids need to be cleaned, checked, adjusted, to have a plugged wax guard changed or if it’s time to purchase batteries. Additionally, patients can take advantage of a 30-day hearing aid trial to make sure they’re ready to commit to wearing hearing devices.
“I sell a lot of hearing aids, but I don’t want my patients to buy hearing aids if they aren’t fully happy with them or won’t wear them all the time,” Dr. Alber said. “I will literally say, ‘I’m not going to let you buy these hearing aids if you’re not going to wear them. The technology works, but you’ve got to do your part’.”
Better hearing changes lives
Dr. Alber said many of her patients are overjoyed when they experience the difference hearing aids can make in their lives. It’s her favorite part of the job. One patient, a grandmother with mild to moderate hearing loss, burst into tears when Dr. Alber fit her with her hearing aids.
“To this day when I’m testing someone and their results are unfolding in front me and I know I can go out of the office, put hearing aids on them and make their life better — I get excited,” she said. “It’s not about selling hearing aids. It’s about knowing they can hear their grandchildren. I just know I can make a difference.”
For that reason, Dr. Alber said she gets frustrated when people don’t give hearing aids a fair try. “Some try them and bring them back two days later and I don’t know why,” she said. “Hearing is a brain function. It’s exhausting trying to get through the day with hearing loss. I know I can fix that quickly. Today’s hearing aids work.”
“With audiology, I can help someone right away and fix the problem.” – Dr. Alber
Recent developments in technology, specifically receiver-in-the-ear hearing aids, have solved a lot of issues for Dr. Alber’s patients. “The open ear acoustics has helped us fit people with milder and milder losses,” she said, “because even mild hearing loss affects people. It’s also helped us fit more severe losses with more cosmetically-appealing devices.”
Pillar of the community
Dr. Alber, who now serves the same community she grew up in, actively gives back both personally and professionally to various organizations in Greenfield as well as to her patients — especially to those who don’t have the means to buy hearing aids. As a result, her practice is thriving. She recently won a local Entrepreneur of the Year and is currently looking to hire another practitioner so she can get out of the office and into the community even more.
“Overall, I think my job has gotten easier because the technology is there and I’m good at establishing rapport with people and finding out what their ultimate goals and needs are,” she said. “And I have time to do that.”
You may not live in Dr. Alber’s neck of the woods, but you can still find the right solution for your hearing loss from a dedicated hearing healthcare professional near you. Check out our consumer-reviewed directory if you suspect you have a hearing loss – help may be right around the corner.
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