It wasn’t until Rachel Peddie saw first-hand how much her grandmother benefitted from a hearing aid that she decided to pursue audiology.
“My Oma is profoundly deaf, and her communication was so much improved with the fitting of a hearing aid. With this in mind, I deemed this career a fantastic opportunity to help other families and persons with hearing impairment,” says Rachel.
Nearing the end of her Bachelor of Arts in psychology, Rachel decided she no longer wanted to work as a clinical psychologist – although she still wanted to work clinically and help people. A friend who works as a speech-language pathologist told her about the master’s programme at the University of Canterbury and Rachel was sold.
The 26-year-old has now been an audiologist for three years. She does full diagnostic hearing assessments for people of all ages – “three to 103 years” – and tests for auditory processing disorders.
A large part of her job involves the fitting and fine-tuning of hearing devices such as hearing aids, remote microphone technology, assistive listening devices and accessories in order to help hearing-impaired people hear better.
It is her clients who motivate Rachel the most. The ability to help somebody improve their hearing and as a result, their quality of life, is what drives her.
“I love those ‘wow’ moments that you get from clients when you switch on a whole new world of sound that they had either forgotten about, or never heard before,” says Rachel. “You can see a person transform from being withdrawn and socially isolated to somebody who can communicate with ease and confidence and just enjoy life.”
“The worst bits are when a hearing loss is so severe that there is little that can be done to improve it, even with the latest and greatest in hearing aid technology. That is always hard. It is also difficult when the cost of hearing technology becomes a barrier to people getting help with their hearing.”
Rachel and her fiancé now live and work in Tauranga, but they grew up in Christchurch. While it was Rachel’s job that brought them to the Bay of Plenty from Christchurch, rather than the earthquakes, Rachel admits it is “nice to be on less shaky ground”.
Her fiancé is the person who influences Rachel most.
“He is so encouraging and positive, and inspires me to be the best person I can be. Every day, without fail, he will ask me the highlight of my workday. This reminds me daily why it is that I do what I do and keeps me motivated in my profession.”