Musical festivals set Benjamin Thompson ’18 on the path to a career in audiology. “I began to wear earplugs at music festivals after a close friend recommended I consider protecting my hearing,” said Thompson. “Soon after I began personal research into the effects of noise on our auditory pathway. Audiology resonated with me because I enjoy working with people to improve their communication.”
For Thompson, music and audiology go hand-in-hand. He shares, “I would like to become more involved in hearing loss prevention campaigns for musicians and music lovers.” He adds, “Many of my friends are musicians, music lovers or work in the music industry and experience tinnitus. […] Hearing loss provides unique challenges to every individual.”
Thompson grew up in Newport, Rhode Island. He earned a bachelor of arts in communication and health from College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. While living in Charleston he collaborated with local audiologists to conduct a research study about ear plug usage and concert attendance among college students.
Results of the study showed a lack of knowledge about noise-induced hearing loss and served as his motivation to design a community education event. “Of respondents, 70 percent have experienced tinnitus after attending a concert and 90 percent have never used ear plugs,” Thompson explains. “Short-term tinnitus, ringing in the ears, may be a precursor to hearing loss. With the results, I organized a hybrid education and entertainment event called ‘Decibel: Hearing Conservation Seminar’ with a presentation by a local audiologist.”
Pacific’s doctor of audiology (AuD) program brought Thompson to California. “I chose to be a part of Pacific’s inaugural class because of the need for audiologists in California,” shares Thompson. “Pacific’s AuD program in the second year consists of classes three days a week and clinical experience two days a week. I enjoy this balance of theory and practice because it allows students to exercise our knowledge immediately. Our program introduces students to Pacific’s Hearing and Balance Center in downtown San Francisco from the beginning of the program. We are one of the select accelerated AuD programs in the country. The fast-paced nature of the program is challenging. It requires sharp mental focus and diligence.”
Thompson loves being outdoors either camping, hiking or surfing. His ideal weekend would be exploring California’s untamed coastline, either in Big Sur or the Lost Coast. He found a way to combine his love for outdoor adventures with his passion for audiology. “This August I organized a fundraiser titled, ‘Hiking for Hearing: California to Guatemala.’ I hiked the 210-mile John Muir Trail from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney. The trip raised money for an audiology mission trip to Guatemala this fall that two Pacific classmates and I plan to attend.”
Thompson encourages those who are interested in pursuing a career in audiology to learn more about the different specialties within the profession. He adds, “Pacific’s AuD program accepts students from a diverse background of undergraduate studies.” To learn more about Pacific’s audiology program go to pacific.edu/aud
By Anne Marie H. Bergthold