Aston University: Supporting students to become person-centered professionals

By Clint McLean

This interview is part of our Global Partner Series which highlights members of the Person-Centered Hearing Network (PCHN). The collaborative network of 30 partners works to improve hearing care in person-centered ways.

The sixth interview in our series features Saira Hussain from Aston University in Birmingham, UK. Aston is one of the premier audiology programs in the UK and conducts inter-disciplinary research on the lived experiences of people with hearing and balance conditions. Aston University has been an Ida partner since 2018.

We’re talking to Hussain about helping students create person-centered appointments, using Ida courses in their program, and the double-edged sword of technology.

How do you and your colleagues work towards making hearing care more person-centered?

The audiology team at Aston University ensures that we translate our research findings into our teaching. We are able to incorporate new tools into our clinical skills training to best support our students in clinical visits and interactions with patients. For example, the My Hearing Explained tool and the Motivation Tools are part of our clinical teaching. 

Students have reported that these tools have helped to guide appointments to ensure that they are patient-focused as opposed to focusing on their own agenda. It has helped with their confidence as well as when speaking with patients and in preparation for clinical interactions. 

What three words would you use to describe your program?

Innovative, engaging, and adaptive.

Tell us about a project you’re working on that excites you.

The team is currently working on embedding more Ida online modules into our courses. This is because we know that these modules are engaging and interactive and can help support our students with their training and confidence in person-centered care (PCC). 

For example, students have access to the courses Understanding the Elements of PCC and Getting Started with Person-Centered Care. Students work through these modules prior to seminars where key learnings can be discussed together. 

Our MSc students also have access to the Tinnitus Management course and other modules in the Learning Hall. This helps ensure that students can work through information at a pace that works for them prior to scheduled teaching or assessment sessions. 

Why did Aston University join the Person-Centered Hearing Network?

We value collaborations and the shared knowledge that can come from such a network. It’s a great space to share best practices, ideas, and troubleshoot with others. It’s been an engaging experience where each organization is a key player involved in driving change. 

What do you see as the greatest challenges and opportunities for hearing care in the next decade?

Progress in technology and systems are most welcome and an exciting part of the audiology profession. 

Challenges that we see are misinterpretations and miscommunications around hearing care. Advancements in technology don’t negate the need for a hearing care professional to support a person’s specific needs. 

It’s important that students have the chance to learn about technological advancements and how they can best support patients. By learning more about the technology and options, we’re better placed to share this. For these reasons, advancements are also a fantastic opportunity for learning and growth. 

Online appointments allow for much more flexibility, which this past year has shown is much needed in our field. By being able to work more remotely, we can adapt to individual needs.

In one sentence, what is your ideal vision of hearing care in the future?

Hearing care that is accessible to all, with continued cooperation between patients, clients, and healthcare professionals for the best person-centered outcomes.

Image: Audiology students at Aston University, UK, now graduated