phnom penh starkey hearing foundation mission group photo

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Learning in the Field

July 05, 2017

Students and professors from the audiology program at Utah State University joined the Asia Pacific team for a research and teaching mission in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The nine students ranged from first to third year students, with a mixture of Starkey Hearing Foundation mission first-timers and mission veterans.

The group was accompanied by Utah State University audiology professors Heather Jensen, Amy Porter and Jeff Larsen. Students fit 1,024 patients in two days and conducted Phase 3 AfterCare for 50 patients.

“Hearing stories and meeting the people of Cambodia who have traveled hours for the gift of hearing their loved one has been a humbling experience,” said Christina Heitzinger, a third year audiology student. “Here, you are changing the lives of the patients as well as their families, which is seen through the joy and excitement experienced by both.”

Some patients traveled two hours from the Kampong Speu region. Another group of patients traveled in the back of pickup trucks from near the Thailand and Cambodia border. Just as the students impacted the lives of the dozens of patients they saw, the exposure to community-based hearing healthcare will positively affect the professional careers of the students.

“We have been on several missions, and after the mission in the clinic at home, their confidence is much higher than those who have not gone on a mission,” said Professor Amy Porter. “In the three days they are here they have looked in more ears than they would have in two years back at home. So, I definitely see an increase in their clinical skills and basic audiology skills like otoscopy. But also in their interactions with people. They seem more comfortable in their interactions and conversations with people, which will help them be better audiologists in the long run.”

During the four-day mission, students also conducted research on the credibility and validity of the WFA® Voice Test when compared to audiometric testing.

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