…about our Courses. By Dr. Tom Thunder
- Do you offer ONLINE Courses?
Yes we sure do. In fact we are the FIRST & ONLY course to have completely online CAOHC courses, as well as, the Audiometric Testing course and Hearing Conservation course, no face2face needed. Keep in mind the questions below will refer to the traditional face2face courses. We hope to update soon.
- Is this the same course taught since 1973 in Oakbrook?
Yep. But I took the course over in 1996. I felt pretty comfortable doing that. After all, even though I owned and operated a private practice dispensing hearing aids, I had a lot of experience working in industry since 1976 conducting sound surveys and consulting with companies on hearing protection, audiometric monitoring, and hearing conservation. The challenge for me in taking over the seminar series was to update the materials, acquire CEUs, and implement better learning materials and techniques. In 2002, we moved the course near the renowned Woodfield Shopping Mall so that students could enjoy better hotel access, parking, shopping, dining, and entertainment. Based on the comments of our students, I’d say we made a great decision.
- How are your seminars set up?
The Wednesday seminar focuses on the audiometer, the test environment, and the technique used to conduct forced whisper (DOT) hearing screening and audiometric threshold testing. The Thursday seminar focuses on hearing conservation strategies, which includes the OSHA’s requirements for implementing and maintaining an effective hearing conservation program. It also covers NIOSH’s “best practice” protocols. Each day is a stand-alone seminar in itself that can be taken individually, together, or at separate times.
- So what is the CAOHC course then?
CAOHC stands for the Council for Accreditation in Hearing Conservation. It is a non-profit organization that qualifies course directors and sets training guidelines and parameters for students to be eligible for CAOHC certification. CAOHC calls for a 3-day course which, in our format, requires: 1) the audiometric testing seminar on Wednesday, 2) the hearing conservation seminar on Thursday, and 3) a special ½-day seminar on Friday. This ½-day session covers some additional material, but its main focus is to review the course content and prepare you to take the CAOHC test later that morning.
- Wait, did you say test?
You noticed. Well CAOHC has required some form of assessment for many years. But beginning in June of 2014, it began requiring that students take a nationally standardized exam of 55 questions in a proctored, Scantron style format. Passing this test is now required to obtain CAOHC certification.
- That makes me a little nervous.
You’re not alone. But relax. I am an experienced instructor. I have been teaching this subject at five different audiology programs in the country for many years. I have been on the faculty at Rush University since 1987 teaching courses on acoustics, psychoacoustics, and hearing conservation and on staff at Northern Illinois University for 10 years teaching hearing science, audiology assessment and the effects of noise. In addition, I have given numerous talks and presentations at safety, occupational medicine, audiology, and nursing conferences. So you’ll be in good hands to pass the test. In addition, a good part of our ½-day Friday seminar is spent reviewing the course, discussing any questions you have, and taking a practice test. This all reinforces what we have covered and is great preparation for the exam.
- OK, but is CAOHC certification really needed to do hearing testing?
It depends. If you‘re testing for the military or the mining industry, then yes. And if your state runs its own OSHA program, its regulations might require CAOHC certification. Finally, if you are following the NIOSH best practice protocols, then CAOHC certification – or its equivalent – is required. But under the OSHA regulations, CAOHC certification itself is not required. As a minimum, OSHA requires that you demonstrate competence in “…administering audiometric examinations, obtaining valid audiograms, and properly, using, maintaining and checking calibration and proper functioning of the audiometers being used” [29 CFR 1910.95(g)(3)]. If you take the Wednesday seminar on audiometric testing, you’ll be able to do that. And if you also take the Thursday seminar on hearing conservation, you’ll achieve CAOHC equivalent training. But if you really need to have CAOHC certification, then you will need to attend the Friday morning seminar as well and take the exam.
- All right then, can you tell me more about your Wednesday seminar on audiometric testing.
I am glad you asked. It’s a seminar designed for nurses, medical technicians, physicians and hearing aid dispensers, who want to operate an audiometer, conduct hearing screening, perform audiometric testing, evaluate changes in hearing, and use otoscopy. In short, it is designed to meet OSHA’s expectation for competence in audiometric testing. Specifically, you’ll learn how to properly conduct the Forced Whisper Test (for DOT screenings) and how to set up, check the calibration, and use an audiometer. You’ll achieve the skill to conduct audiometric screening and threshold testing. We have also set aside hands-on work with an audiometer performing audiometric testing.
- How does this differ from the Thursday seminar?
The Thursday seminar is designed for those who need to implement and maintain a hearing conservation program such as physicians, audiologists, occupational nurses, safety managers, industrial hygienists, risk managers, facility operators, or human resource professionals. In this seminar, you’ll learn about the OSHA regulations that drive the need for audiometric monitoring and the protocol for coordinating a continuing and effective program. Specifically you’ll learn about noise-induced hearing loss, how noise exposure is determined, the new technology of custom-fit hearing protection, the emerging trend of fit-verification for earplugs, the new Personal Attenuation Rating, the three traits of successful programs, educating and motivating employees, and comparing audiograms. In addition, you’ll be able to identify STSs and know what to do when you find them such as the required follow-up, recording them on the OSHA 300 Log and revising the baseline tests
- Can a CAOHC certified nurse or technician train others to conduct testing?
As far as OSHA is concerned, it all comes down to whether or not the tester can demonstrate the competence outlined above to an audiologist or qualified physician. You see, the problem is that most sites use a microprocessor audiometer. Since this equipment obtains threshold values automatically, it’s easy to train someone to press the “go” button. But according to OSHA, that operator must also be responsible for evaluating the validity of the test, administering a manual test if validity is in question, checking the calibration of the test equipment, and ensuring the proper functioning of the audiometer throughout the test. Since less than 5% of physicians have actually been trained to conduct a pure-tone audiometric test, I highly recommend that everyone responsible for audiometric testing attend our Wednesday seminar. In addition, if either the supervising audiologist or physician is not comfortable with industrial testing or occupational hearing loss prevention strategies and OSHA requirements, then they should take the 1-day seminar on Thursday.
- It’s hard for me to send a nurse out for three days. Can I split up the training?
I don’t see why not. Three days is indeed a long time to be away from the clinic. If you take one seminar, then come back within a reasonable time to take the other parts and pass the test and you can obtain your CAOHC certification.
- I see you also have a 1-day refresher seminar – what’s that about?
CAOHC certification expires after 5 years. So this seminar will renew your certificate. Although these students would be joining us for our regular Thursday seminar on hearing conservation strategies, to meet the needs of those that already have their CAOHC certificate, we will be holding a break-out session to discuss advanced concepts and address specific student questions and concerns. In this format, you will certainly be updated about hearing conservation and audiometric testing. Specifically, we will cover the new insert earphones for audiometric testing, the Warnier-Orr diagram on the OSHA regulations, the new custom hearing protectors, hi-fidelity hearing protection, the follow-up action required for STS’s, the new OSHA 300 Log recording requirements, the best methods for educating and motivating employees, and the NHCA guidelines for baseline revision.
OK. One last question. Why should I choose this
seminar series over others?
Our seminars have consistently ranked as the #1 course in the Midwest by the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC). Offered 4-6 times a year for 40 years, this seminar series has a proven track record and, unlike out-of-town providers or newcomers, the course has only been cancelled once in all those years. This is important if you need your certification on time or like to make hotel reservations in advance. We have guest speakers to keep the seminar interesting and I use advanced learning techniques to create a fun and interactive atmosphere. In addition, we include a continental breakfast and a chef-prepared lunch. No box lunch here! Oh, we also leave the room to eat. Who wants to eat in the same room where they spend all day? But we don’t just let you go to try and find lunch on your own and then hope you make it back on time. Instead, we keep you in the hotel so that you can interact and network with the other students. It’s fun and worthwhile. Why not join us?