Hearing Matters Podcast

Audiology Awareness feat. Dr. Liz White | Harbor City Hearing Solutions

March 09, 2021 Hearing Matters Season 2 Episode 16
Hearing Matters Podcast
Audiology Awareness feat. Dr. Liz White | Harbor City Hearing Solutions
Show Notes Transcript

The Hearing Matters Podcast discusses hearing technology (more commonly known as hearing aids), best practices, and a growing national epidemic - Hearing Loss. The show is hosted by father and son - Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS and Dr. Gregory Delfino, CCC-A. Blaise Delfino and Dr. Gregory Delfino treat patients with hearing loss, tinnitus, and Central Auditory Processing Disorder at Audiology Services, located in Bethlehem, Nazareth, and East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

On this episode we interview Dr. Liz White of Harbor City Hearing Solutions! Harbor City Hearing Solutions is committed to providing the best in patient care and the best in hearing devices. Dr. White continually attends conferences and workshops to ensure she is current on research and best practices in the field of audiology. 

Audiology is a changing field, therefore, we need to continue to learn and grow as professionals to continue to provide the patient with the highest standard of hearing care. Bettering your hearing healthcare is an investment and together we can work together to improve your quality of life! 

During this episode you will learn:

  • What inspired Dr. White to enter the field of Audiology
  • What sparks Dr. White’s happiness 
  • Why Dr. White decided to open her own private audiology practice 
  • What sets Harbor City Hearing Solutions apart from other hearing healthcare practices 

About Audiology Services:

At Audiology Services, we believe in total hearing healthcare for all patients through comprehensive assessment techniques. They include aural rehabilitation, as well as measurements of outcome success. When a communication deficit is identified, an appropriate amplification solution that fits the patient’s lifestyle and budget is offered. A family owned and operated facility, we are dedicated to the principle of providing exceptional care to all those in need of our assistance. We emphasize the concept that healthy hearing leads to a healthy life.

Blaise Delfino:

You're tuned into the Hearing Matters Podcast with Dr. Gregory Delfino, and Blaise Delfino of Audiology Services and Fader Plugs, the show that discusses hearing technology, best practices, and a growing national epidemic. Hearing loss. On this episode, we have Dr. Liz White with harbor city Hearing Solutions. Dr. White, welcome to the hearing matters podcast.

Dr. Liz White:

Thank you for having me. This is great.

Blaise Delfino:

We cannot thank you enough for joining us this evening, Dr. White, we have not personally met. So this is our first time actually speaking. And I have to say on behalf of every audiologists, and hearing healthcare professional, thank you so much for all that you do for our industry, between your passion and the patients that you've helped. Thank you.

Dr. Liz White:

You're welcome. I feel like you know, it's my calling so I, you know, I do what I love, and I try to do it well.

Blaise Delfino:

Dr. White, you are an audiologist, and I'm always so curious, how did you get into audiology?

Dr. Liz White:

I got into audiology unfortunately, my father had a stroke when I was a senior in high school. And that stroke affected his speech, which basically was the only thing that affected at that at that point with his first stroke. And I was raised by a family who no one had gone to college. So college was not talked about in our house at all, which is unlike when my house now my kids have been talking about college since they were like three and four years old. So no one in my family, my cousins, my uncle's, my aunts, my parents, my brother, no one had gone to college. And so I just, you know, it was talked about a little bit and I guess, elementary, not even elementary school I don't remember being talked about. Anyway, my dad had a stroke. And I had applied to college because it was talked about in high school. And I got into the University of Florida, which you know, at this point in my life, I'm not sure I could get in because I think you have to have like a 5.0 grade point average and like every extracurricular activity under the sun. And so my mom suggested speech therapy, since my dad had to see a speech therapist, and the speech therapist was really able to help him gain his speech back. And so at that point in my life, I was probably a little bit more like, not independent. And I was like, okay, sure, mom, that sounds good. And so I declared communication sciences and disorders as my major, and went to college in August of 1997, and took an intro class to communication sciences and disorders. And, you know, since that was 1997, the the doctorate of Audiology was pretty new. And in the in that first intro class in August, early September, someone came in and talked about it. And I was like, Wow, that's pretty neat. So made that decision without knowing really a darn thing about it. And here I am. I'm glad though, because I, I have really very little patience. And I don't think I'd be the best speech therapist.

Blaise Delfino:

And you know what, Dr. White entrepreneurship and owning a private practice is all about auditing yourself, and you really know who you are. That story, number one, it's incredible. Number two, it's amazing that you had a calling, if you will, your mother encouraging you to, you know, go to school for speech language pathology, because you saw how the speech therapist impacted your father. I mean, that is that is absolutely amazing,

Dr. Liz White:

Right, to change the quality of life.

Blaise Delfino:

Absolutely. And when you were in graduate school, going for communication sciences and disorders and decided to make the decision to move forward and take the audiology track. What did post graduation look like for you?

Dr. Liz White:

So I'm also kind of a nerd. I ended up doing College in three and a half years. And so I actually ended in December, because I was taking summer classes, you know, I don't know what else people do. I don't know, people probably go on vacations. And I was taking classes all the time. So graduated college in three and a half years and wasn't even time yet to apply to graduate schools. Now, this was December of 2000. And you know, I like I said, I had never even thought about anything else. You're going to graduate with communication sciences and disorders, and you're going to pick one or the other and you're just going to kind of go. Now at this point in early 2001, there was only eight schools in the country that offered the doctorate of Audiology degree. And so I'm pretty sure I probably applied to probably at least half maybe more of them. I almost moved to Buffalo which would have been pretty crazy for a Florida girl to move to Buffalo I'm not sure I would have survived past October there.

Blaise Delfino:

Yeah, pack a winter jacket.

Dr. Liz White:

Not my that's not my, my temperature I prefer. I ended up getting waitlisted actually at the University of Louisville which is where I ended up going, I have to admit, I'm not like the I'm not like a type. I'm not like the A plus kind of student. I didn't really have to study in college. But in graduate school, I did have to study a little bit more, but I'm not the type that like, you know, I didn't have the 5.0 GPA and all that. So I did get waitlisted. And luckily, some people turned down the University of Louisville, and I ended up there, which was a fantastic time and so glad I I went there and got out of the state of Florida and met other people.

Blaise Delfino:

What's so amazing, Dr. White is that you enter the field of Audiology, when digital hearing aids really started to take off, and they were able to do all of these amazing and incredible things. What was that like being in graduate school finishing in three and a half years, then going for your doctorate? And when you graduated with your doctorate, what was it like entering the field and starting to help patients throughout their hearing journey?

Dr. Liz White:

Well, you know what, I didn't even go straight into an office or into a clinic, I went straight into the manufacturing side and I went to work for cochlear Americans. So I was actually a clinical application specialist meeting other audiologists and helping other audiologists with their cochlear implant patients, which I'm so glad I did that, like I didn't take any kind of traditional path to get to where I am, I've kind of experienced all the facets of Audiology. You know, I went to the industry, it was an education, I was in the government, I have such a love for cochlear implants. And I know who was a candidate for cochlear implants. And I knew it right off the bat. And I don't think everybody knows what a cochlear implant candidate looks like. So me having that that extra little experience was super helpful. I did that for four years, I guess, maybe a little bit longer. I'd been married at that point. And had we were pregnant with our second child, and I couldn't travel anymore. So had to get out of the, you know, being on a plane and being gone four days a week and coming home and only seeing your kids at that time.

Blaise Delfino:

Of course, it sounds like you come from, you know, a tight knit family. And you were at that point in your life where, you know, I might need to make a transition here. I had no idea you were in the manufacturing side of our industry. That's amazing. And I'm sure that's one of the many reasons why you are such an incredible clinician working with patients today throughout their hearing journey.

Dr. Liz White:

I think that is part of the Blaise, because I'm just going to interrupt you real quick because, you know, in our world, we're looking at word understanding. And if you're not talking to a patient about their word, understanding and quiet and in noise, they're going to have these unrealistic expectations from the get go. So I am so upfront about that. And I always have been, and unfortunately, we don't always see that in our profession, which is it's super important.

Blaise Delfino:

Going beyond the audiogram,

Dr. Liz White:

Going beyond the audiogram. Yeah. So after cochlear, I went into an anti base. And that was great. I loved working there. But it was another drive. I drove an hour in the morning and an hour home. And again with two small children. It was like, Yeah, I don't know how long

Blaise Delfino:

It's tough.

Dr. Liz White:

Yeah. So from there, I went to work for the school system. I was like, Yes, I'm going to be local, I'm going to have the same hours as my kids. But I took an enormous pay cut to work for the school system. And while the hours were great, I was like, I'm, I'm I can't do this. I've got a family. I've got loans from school. And so I started doing fee basis work at our VA here. So then I was working five days a week, usually all day, Saturday and two nights a week. And then I was like, Okay, now I'm never home. And like this doesn't make sense. Something's got to give here.

Blaise Delfino:

Now, Dr. White, you're talking a lot about quality of life, you have such a passion for hearing healthcare for helping patients on their hearing journey. You're also an entrepreneur, you have an incompetent, entrepreneurial mindset. I don't think this is discussed enough. But what makes you happy?

Dr. Liz White:

So what makes me happy, I love changing people's lives. And I that I get to do that every day. It's funny, I talked to my friends who maybe are in public relations or marketing or, you know, whatever they do, and teachers change lives, but my friends that are in these other fields are like, I'm kind of jealous that every day, you're telling us these stories about how you're changing lives. And you know, you get goosebumps telling some of these stories, but that is truly what makes me happy. I gave a I gave a talk this week to a group called the American Business Women's Association, which I've never been to before, and I'm in a room with 40 other business women. And I got to educate 40 people about audiology that I probably probably wouldn't have been educated and that was so great. That's like me educating our world about hearing, puts a smile on my face and then my kids even are doing the same thing. They're like mom, I think our server has some hearing loss. Can you give her a card? I'm like, No, no, no, no, we don't just like give cards now. Like, take takes time to get in there, but changing people's lives. And, you know, that is seriously what makes me the happiest.

Blaise Delfino:

Amazing. And Dr. White before we started recording this episode, you and I were talking briefly about happiness is so important. That is number one. And it sounds like you don't go to work every day, because you are truly doing what you're passionate about. You're doing what makes you happy. And how does that carry over into the patient interaction?

Dr. Liz White:

Oh, man, my patients. They say like, I think you're more excited about this than I am like, they're like, you need to calm down. Because I do I like start clapping and I get goosebumps. And I think my enthusiasm finally starts to rub off on them. I had this woman come in probably three weeks ago, I was actually just getting ready to change offices. So she came in, in this like transition period for me. She has known that she's had hearing loss for 25 years. And interestingly, she used to be a nurse in ear, nose and throat. She knows knew for 25 years that she had a problem and has not done a darn thing about it. I test her hearing I put a pair of loaner hearing aids on her to say I think it was the same No, she came back the next day because I had an opening. And she was just in complete shock. Her eyes got teary, my eyes got teary. She sent me an email later that day and was saying the target bag in the back of my car made a noise. I had no idea that bag even made a noise. So you know, it's all you know, all these little things. And of course, these are stupid sounds, who cares about a target bag, and who cares about a turn signal on the car. But these are sounds that people have no idea that they're missing. And I just want people to experience everything. One of my favorite stories to tell is I just fit a retired dentist we'll say two months ago. And he came back in after his two weeks. And he said Do you know that the little shoelace? The end of your shoelace that has like the little plastic tape or whatever he goes, when that hits your shoe? It makes a noise. Yeah. I never knew that. And again, a stupid sound. But these are sounds that everybody should be hearing that people just don't and you know, then I get crazy about let's not wait 25 years and let's not wait 30 years because by that point, your brain doesn't want to hear those sounds and it's not ready to accept those sounds

Blaise Delfino:

Correct that acclimatization oh my gosh, I anyone in Rockledge, Florida. If you have any hearing needs, please go visit Dr. White at Harbor City Hearing Solutions. Hearing your passion. Dr. White gets me really excited for you know, next week coming back into the office and helping our patients because, you know, your patients are in such great hands, you have passion for the field of Audiology for helping patients throughout their new hearing journey. And I'm sure of course, to hear you say that, you know, your enthusiasm rubs off on your patients. That is one of the many reasons why they are having and you're having great patient outcomes. Would you agree?

Dr. Liz White:

Right. I agree. I agree. And I also have to say that if I have a patient that comes in and you know, is not truly in acceptance of their hearing loss, and they're like, Oh, well, I guess they'll get hearing aids, but I'm only going to wear them when I think I need them. I tell them that they're not my patients, I because if you're not planning on being successful from the minute you walk out my door, then I'm not successful. And then that puts a bad taste in our mouth from the get go. So I like I'm going to make sure then data logging is going to help me prove that you're wearing these all day long. So I I've kind of got a little meaner in my in my 15 years I've been doing this now I'm not just gonna fit anybody I'm gonna say people who seriously want to improve their quality of life,

Blaise Delfino:

You sort of have to run with the runners. Right?

Dr. Liz White:

Yeah.

Blaise Delfino:

Can't motivate someone who's unmotivated? Because you're absolutely right, it will put a bad taste in both parties mouth and that if I if I walk out of this office, and I'm sort of on the fence with hearing technology, you know, we always talk about everyone wants a 30 day or 60 day guarantee. Well, you need to guarantee yourself, you need to make sure that you're going to wear these hearing instruments every single day for at least you know 8 to 10 hours plus per day to get your brain acclimated. Absolutely.

Dr. Liz White:

Exactly when I get my 16 hour plus like they get a gold star. And sometimes I even give them an actual star I have these little sticker you when you my most my I actually did a Facebook post recently. I was like alright, I got a new favorite patient 17 hours a day is her data logging.

Blaise Delfino:

I think I saw that. Yes, I saw that post. When do they wake up?

Dr. Liz White:

Yeah, she actually she does end up falling asleep with them in her ears but she also does not get very much sleep. So and she is like addicted to hearing and that's that's that's been an interesting thing. I've had quite a few patients in the last few months patients, you know, who were a little bit iffy, But promise me, they would wear them. And now they're like, Oh, my gosh, I am I put those in as soon as I wake up, because now I don't feel like I'm in a cloud anymore. And I get, you know, I can hear the news, and I can hear my husband talking to me. And then you know that they keep them in the rest of the day, they had, they were not expecting that they were going to be that type of patient. And that's the type of patient that is awesome. And that's the type of patient I want. And that's going to recognize the differences of making in their lives.

Blaise Delfino:

Dr. White, you've accomplished so much in a short window of time, impacting patients lives and innovating and creating innovative ways to enhance the hearing healthcare industry. Now, it wasn't until a few years ago, you entered the private practice field, if you will, why did you decide to open your own private practice?

Dr. Liz White:

So I never really thought I was gonna be in private practice, I actually was telling you earlier that I had a business plan that we had to create in grad school. And in 2007, it actually had some we had some water damage in our house. And I found that and I was like, I don't need that. That's something I'm never gonna do. Eight years, 8-9 years later, I, I was working someplace where I was not happy. There was so many, so many things going on there. And I was like, You know what, I think I can do this better. And I also had all these experiences, I had the manufacturer side, I was in government, I was in ENT. And I was I wanted to do things the way that they should be done, and not have someone like breathing down my neck that Oh, my gosh, the patients showed up, you know, 30 minutes late, but you're going to have to not have your lunch now. And then you're going to be running behind the rest of the day. Because this patient, that's that's not the way I want it to work. I wanted to control my own schedule and do things, the way that they should be done, where I was working at that point was not using any type of best practice. And I just couldn't do it. My mom reminded me She said, within your first couple days there, you were coming home and crying. You're calling me crying. I think I blocked all that out. So I wasn't the I didn't remember that at all. But I actually reached out to my, my mentor from grad school, Dr. Ian Windmill, in June of 2016. I said, Do you think I can do this? And he's like, it's gonna be a heck of a lot of work. He's like, but I know you have it in you. It took me What was that? June of 2016. It took me two years to resign from that job and start a business plan. And six months later, open my own practice. Well, and yeah, so I'm only been doing I've only been in private practice for two years. And I just moved to a new space because I outgrew the first space that I had, and things are going things are going well things you know, I'm making changes in people's lives and word of mouth is super helpful.

Blaise Delfino:

And Dr.White, you're kind you're a good person and positive vibes attracts positive circumstances, right. And it sounds like you're incredibly grateful. And private practice, of course, is not easy. You know, you own your own business. And that is amazing. You get to of course, set your own schedule. And I think the biggest thing that caught my my ear, no pun intended, you know, saying you, you didn't have time to implement much, if not any best practice in your previous setting. With the implementation of best practice and of course, owning your own private practice, how important is it to implement best practice?

Dr. Liz White:

Oh my gosh, it's completely and I see a lot of transfer patients I'll see a lot of people like right now there's been this apparently this office has been closed for months and these people can't get in. And I I am I am constantly educating. I even educated that group of 40 women about best practices the other day, because everybody thinks that we're all equal, and we're not all equal. It's just like, you know, your your podiatrist is not equal to the podiatrist down the streets, everyone does something a little bit differently. Everyone has different equipment, and everyone follows a different standard of care. I guess. I am a huge believer in real ear measurements. And that was actually the first piece of equipment that I researched when I got my business plan going I was like, Oh my gosh, how much is this gonna cost me but it is such a game changer in our field that it just it's crazy to me that people won't adapt to it and won't use it in their in their clinics. I had a woman in this week she was 99 years old.

Blaise Delfino:

God bless her.

Dr. Liz White:

Yes, she's been fit and she's so pretty. She's been fit with hearing aids. I think they're like three or four years old. This is her daughter found me because this place that she got them from has not been answering their phone and she's fit to her first fit, but way like adaptation level one to believe It was like otherwise and like earplugs in our ears. So I did a hearing test, I ran a real ear measurement. And this is what 99% of people say after they do a real ear measurement if they've been fit elsewhere. Wow, the sound is so clear. They're so distinct. And I say this is how it should have been from the get go like, this is how it should have been four years ago when you started wearing these. Yes, this is not how it should be now, but like, at least we're getting somewhere now. Of course, this poor lady is 99. She could have been better off at 95. But you know, at least I fixed her up now. and best practices aren't just real ear measurements. It's using electro acoustic measurements. It's testing and background noise. It's having regular follow ups. I tell people that if you're if you're if you get fit with hearing aids, and then you know, within a few weeks, they're like, okay, just call me when you need me.

Blaise Delfino:

Oh no, yeah.

Dr. Liz White:

Like no, because that's what happens. They're gonna end up in a drawer. I see my patients, if not twice a year, three times a year, because that is how it should be. That is how it is when we go to the dentist. That is how we go it is when we go to the eye doctor usually like our technology, our tools that we use, need to have regular care and maintenance by a professional. It's not just you can't just take care of it on your own,

Blaise Delfino:

Dr. White. And for our listeners right now. If you are experiencing hearing loss, and you are in the Rockledge, Florida area, please visit Harbor City Hearing Solutions. Dr. White listening to you, and just hearing your passion about best practices. It's It's amazing. And you're absolutely right, because best practice isn't just real ear measurement. No, it's testing speech and noise, which is so important to do. Because how do you know which level of technology really is going to be best for your patients, and really going to be best to handle those complex listening situations. Right? That's, that's really important. Of course, the abbreviated profile hearing a benefit is another outcome measurement that we can implement. And something that we do here at Audiology Services. So important. I'm so excited Dr. White for your success for your continued success, because you are going to just change 1000s of lives. I mean, I'm so excited to hear these success stories to see you post them on Facebook. Now, when we talk about Harbor City Hearing Solutions, and we were just talking about best practice, what sets you apart Dr. White?

Dr. Liz White:

so I think something that sets me apart is that I truly care. I listened to my patients stories, I am not just like a retail place. I mean, in Florida, you can imagine we have a retail shop on every corner. I am one of these people who is like I said, I'm a big nerd. I am the person who gets the scholar level of Prudential or whatever it is from the American Academy of Audiology every two years because I get more than enough continuing education hours like we cannot stay static. So I am part of all these audiology groups. I'm constantly learning, and a member of a board member of the Florida Academy of Audiology, and the new board member of the American Academy of Audiology foundation. And that's something that I truly love. Like one of our biggest goals with the the academy foundation is public awareness, we want you to be able to find the right people to see. So we are raising funds right now for that. And that is just so exciting because we need to announce ourselves to the world. I have another side story. You know, those flags that people have outside their businesses like haircuts or pet groomers or whatever it might be. I just ordered one that says audiologist and I was actually questioned by a colleague when I told her I wear it. She goes, Oh, I wouldn't do that. No one knows what an audiologist is. And I said exactly. That is why I want to do it. I want to put that flag outside my business. I actually emailed the condo association today to make sure I can do it. Because I want people to say what's an audiologist and then they're sitting at that light right there and they pull out their phone and Google audiologist has my phone number on it has my logo on it. I want people to know what the word is

Blaise Delfino:

Yes, raise awareness because we need to raise awareness.

Dr. Liz White:

And what the best part is they screwed up my order a little bit. So I ended up with two flags.

Blaise Delfino:

It's going up at the home and at the office

Dr. Liz White:

Can you imagine?

Blaise Delfino:

Gosh, you know what, we're gonna order one here too at Audiology Services. We're gonna hang it outside. We will. So what's so funny when we talk about you know, well, what is an audiologist? I'll never forget my father is an audiologist as well. And he always shares the stories like Oh, you're an audiologist? Do you fix car radios like like no one went When he first started to like, what, what, what do you do? And an audiologist does more than just fit hearing aids? Correct?

Dr. Liz White:

Oh, yeah. Yes, exactly. Yeah, there's so many different facets of Audiology. I I love the hearing aid part. I do love the cochlear implant part too. I just, I'd love to get back into that. But I think I would need yet another staff person telling another audiologist on board to handle the rest of the clinic. But there's pediatric audiology, there's electrophysiol there's a balance. I mean, there's so many things in audiology, but people just don't even know that. I have been i when i say i'm an audiologist, and this hasn't happened for a few years, people say, Oh, so you study ideas. And then I have to correct them and say no, I didn't say I'm an ideal ideologists. I'm an audiologist. So

Blaise Delfino:

Here's my card.

Dr. Liz White:

And here's my card, exactly.

Blaise Delfino:

Dr. White, you just you just recently transferred offices you you grew into a larger space, what piece of advice would you give to aspiring audiologists who want to one day open a private practice?

Dr. Liz White:

So I would say I would say do it, I would say I could not have done it right at 25 or 26, whatever it was when I graduated, I'm glad to have had all those experiences whether they be good or bad because then it It made me a better person and made me a better audiologist. But me working for myself doing things the way that I want to do I can't imagine ever going back to the way that it was I know I'm I work more now than I've ever worked in my life. I don't make nearly as much money as I used to make in my previous career or my previous position. But you know, I'm also two years in I'm still still, you know, trying to get my name out there, but it is 100% worth it and the support I have from other private practice audiologists and other professionals. It's bar none. It's It's It's so great. I love everything about private practice.

Blaise Delfino:

You're tuned into the Hearing Matters Podcast with Dr. Gregory Delfino, and Blaise Delfino of Audiology Services and Fader Plugs. Today we had Dr. Liz White from Harbor City Hearing Solutions join us on the show. For more information about Harbor City Hearing Solutions, please visit HarborCityHearing.com. Until next time, hear life's story.