Up Close with Starkey Training Audiologist Lindsay Olson

Today on our blog, we’re excited to highlight Lindsay Olson! Lindsay is a senior education and training audiologist who has worked at Starkey Hearing Technologies for almost 20 years. She currently focuses on training hearing professionals across the country and on developing content for post-product release training materials. Before joining Starkey, Lindsay worked in a variety of settings including private practice and hospital.

What’s your background (education, training, etc.)?

With a long history of ear infections as a child, I had always had a fascination with the ear and hearing. I earned my bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y. Like many college students, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with my life so I pursued a double major: Rhetoric and Public address, and Speech Pathology and Audiology. I moved to Chicago to pursue a Master’s Degree in Audiology from Northwestern University.

After I graduated, I relocated to San Diego to join family and start my career. I had developed a passion for industrial audiology during school and went to work in hearing conservation. My first job involved hearing testing and counseling for employees at Southern California Edison and the Metropolitan Water District, two of the largest water and power companies in the country. This was excellent experience and also afforded me the opportunity to travel all over Southern California. To broaden my clinical experience, I pursued employment in other clinical settings across the San Diego area.

I eventually moved to Minneapolis where I was introduced to the hearing aid manufacturing industry. After working in audiology for 10 years, I returned to school and earned my Au.D. from A.T. Still University (Arizona School of Health Sciences). I have worked in manufacturing for almost 20 years.

How did you get your start in the hearing aid industry?

Hearing aid manufacturing was not something I had learned about in school. I was first exposed to it while living in Minneapolis. A friend invited me to a Starkey customer event where I met Jerry Ruzicka, who was Vice President of Engineering and also managed the training efforts. After speaking with him about the unique audiology experiences, I immediately felt the Starkey energy and knew I wanted to work here. I never dreamed that lunch at the Marriott Southwest would turn into a long career at Starkey.

I started in the technical services department when Starkey had introduced the Sequel circuit. We paired this product introduction with the Tympanette Certification Training program. Customers were flown to Minnesota to learn about the latest hearing aid technology and the new CIC hearing aid style. Even back in the 90s, Starkey was unique in our approach to educating the professional on the art and science of hearing aid dispensing.

What are your main job duties?

I currently work in the Education and Training department located at our world headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minn. Since my home office is in Southern California, I focus on the western U.S. Trainers are involved in various stages of the educational process for both Starkey staff and hearing professionals. Training takes many forms and can include live presentations to large groups, in-office trainings and patient hearing aid fittings. I am also involved in eLearning remote training.

I also work on content development for product releases. I am responsible for preparing training materials for staff and customers. I recently completed the eLearning Instructional Design Certificate program at University of California, Irvine where I learned how to create effective education programs for the adult learner.

My main emphasis throughout my career has been software training on Starkey’s programming software, Inspire®. I often work closely with software engineers to provide input for future releases and perform software testing.

What has been your most memorable moment at Starkey?

My most memorable experience was the Destiny release in 2006. This was the most successful launch Starkey had ever had in the history of the company. At the time, there were only four people on the training team and we were responsible for creating an education experience that was better than anything else in the industry. This entailed a lot of hard work and long days but it was so rewarding to see the end result. We educated people across the world on the state-of-the art technology.

I had the privilege of introducing Destiny in China. I was the featured speaker at their annual meeting and recreated what had been so successful in the U.S. for all of our Chinese customers. Standing on the stage and having my words translated for the audience of hundreds was a pretty amazing experience. To see their reaction to Destiny and in particular the novelty of voice indicators in hearing aids is something I will never forget.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

My job provides a great deal of variety. I interact with many different people on a daily basis both inside of Starkey and across the hearing industry. I love meeting new people and reconnecting with professionals I may not have seen in a while. I also appreciate the travel. While it can be challenging at times, my job has afforded me the ability to visit all 50 states.

How do you address the challenges you face on the job?

Trainers at Starkey are the subject matter experts on many different topics. We are asked many different questions throughout the day at classes, over the phone and through emails. I need to stay current on everything related to Starkey, audiology and hearing aid dispensing. I am constantly reading journal articles, working with programming software and hearing aids and surfing the web to keep current. If I don’t know the answer to a question posed to me, I will work hard to find the answer in a timely manner.

What are some of the most exciting hearing technology trends you see on the horizon?

I think we will see some exciting developments in the area of mobile applications. Starkey has been at the forefront of our industry with app development. We have seen our own mobile apps develop from basic demonstration platforms to instructional and counseling tools. Today, our TruLink™ Hearing Control app takes advantage of the pristine audio qualities of the Apple® platform, while allowing the patient to customize sound in their environment. For example, the patient can use the app to make recordings in an environment, remember their preferred listening settings and automatically adjust each time they return to that location and even find their misplaced hearing aids. This is a new level of sophistication for technology for the hearing impaired. We are taking personalization to the next level and I believe we will see more advancement in the future.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in the hearing industry?

Be as open minded as you can be when looking for job opportunities. Think of audiology as a smorgasbord; try everything once and then decide what best suits you. Always enjoy what you do. Don’t focus too much on job descriptions. When you bring your talents to a job, the description becomes secondary and your talent and skills will ultimately shape your job.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy many outdoor activities, such as going to the beach. Having lived in several places across the country with less than ideal weather, I never take the southern California weather for granted. I am also a huge sports fan. I love watching football and basketball games. I also love hockey. I have had season tickets to the Anaheim Ducks for eight years. 2015 will be our year to bring home The Cup… again.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

The hearing aid industry is by far one of the greatest industries! I have met lifelong friends through this business. There is no greater compliment to a trainer than when one of my colleagues tells me that they have changed a habit/ tried something new because of something I have taught them in class. When they are successful in their practice it is a win for everyone: the professional, the patient and me.


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