Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Pilot DOD/VA hearing program virtually trains technicians

Image of Military personnel sitting in front of laptop. Army Lt. Col. John Merkley, Army Hearing Program manager with the Army Public Health Center, prepares for a virtual course to train DOD hearing technicians from across the globe in August 2020. The course is part of a first-ever distributed learning DOD/VA hearing technician training pilot program. (HCE Courtesy Photo)

Recommended Content:

Hearing and Balance Injuries | Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Program Office

According to the National Institutes on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 37.5 million American adults aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing.

To help to improve service member and veteran access to hearing health care, the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Veterans Affairs recently initiated a pilot program designed to train by virtual means more than 5,000 hearing technicians.

The DOD-VA Hearing Technician Training and Certification Program is a Joint Incentive Fund pilot project initiated by the DOD Hearing Center of Excellence in 2019, to train hearing technicians to the nationally recognized standard of the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC). The pilot will also seek to demonstrate the efficacy of distributed online training, and if it is as beneficial as onsite training for this particular course work.

“The DOD and VA hearing technician course is leading the way in establishing a distributed learning CAOHC course,” said Dr. Theresa Schulz, prevention division chief for the center. “If successful, this will become another effective way for the audiology community to conduct CAOHC-approved courses.”

According to Schulz, training to the national CAOHC standards ensures that the course meets best practices in hearing health care delivered across the continuum ­ from service member to veteran status. Course graduates who pass the standardized exam receive CAOHC-approved certification that meets Occupational Safety and Health Administration and VA Office of Disability and Medical Assessment requirements.

The initial pilot training focuses on Army and VA hearing technicians. According to the center’s Dr. Kathy Gates, the pilot program has already graduated 187 Army hearing technicians and 60 from the VA. Gates, who helped to design the training, also stated that recertification is required every five years.

Hearing technicians are trained and certified to perform basic hearing health duties, such as conducting air conduction audiograms (hearing tests), hearing protection device fittings, and hearing health education. Hearing technicians working for the DOD also support the hearing conservation mission, and those who graduate can serve as Occupational Hearing Conservation technicians. This certification enables them to administer air conduction threshold testing using the Defense Occupational Health and Environmental Readiness System-Hearing Conservation (DOEHRS-HC) system, which collects, maintains, compares and reports hearing readiness, deployment, and hearing conservation program data for DOD personnel. They also provide hearing protection training and hearing health education to support the hearing conservation mission.

Essy Sanchez, an Army civilian hearing technician from Fort Carson, Colorado, attended a virtual class in August. Sanchez said the experience was very helpful: “I found the information regarding the hearing protection and patient education very engaging and useful in helping me develop my knowledge. This course increased my confidence in my job and I was able to immediately return to the clinic and apply what I learned to my duties.”

Schulz explained that with more hearing technicians certified to perform these duties, she believes it will free up time and enable DOD and VA audiologists to focus on more complex audiology cases, resulting in increased access to care. 

So far, DOD and VA instructors have conducted six courses since the program kicked off in April 2020. The Army Hearing Program will continue to offer classes every other month through FY21 beginning in November 2020, according to Army Lt. Col. John Merkley, Army Hearing Program manager with the Army Public Health Center. He added that the last virtual DOD class, held August 24-28, trained 45 Army, Navy, and Air Force students from around the globe.

Schulz added that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, other CAOHC course directors have developed and implemented their own online training courses. “Results indicate this model is successful in providing the didactic portion of the course. Based on current changes we face with the COVID-19 national emergency, the online hearing technician training and certification course is timely and we believe it will become a new hybrid model approach to training.”

You also may be interested in...

Patients Contribute to Shape Future Hearing Loss Treatment

Barbara Kelly from the Hearing Loss Association of America hosting a meeting

Patient-focused meeting could lead to improved hearing loss therapies

Recommended Content:

Centers of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Hearing and Balance Injuries | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

Researchers find key senses impact readiness, survival

Military personnel in driver and casualty evacuation training

Sound localization is a critical component of situational awareness, or to put it in layman’s terms, knowing what is going on around you

Recommended Content:

Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Hearing and Balance Injuries

MHS and MOS Town Hall: "To Your Health"

Images of Dr. Theresa Schulz and Colonel Mark Reynolds

MHS and Military OneSource: To Your Health: A Discussion with experts from the Hearing Center of Excellence and the Vision Center of Excellence

Recommended Content:

Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Hearing and Balance Injuries |

Strategies for hearing loss prevention help service members stay ready

An infographic with the words "World Hearing Day" at the top, images of people using their hears to listen, and "educate, protect, monitor" at the bottom

The Defense Health Agency is one of many healthcare entities celebrating World Hearing Day on March 3.

Recommended Content:

Hearing Center of Excellence | Hearing and Balance Injuries | Centers of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

New report finds military hearing health is improving

Military doctor inspecting patient's ear

Noise-induced hearing loss is decreasing for active-duty service members.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Hearing and Balance Injuries | Hearing Center of Excellence

Audiologist demonstrates importance of hearing conservation

Woman demonstrating how to insert a foam earplug into the ear

Hearing loss is a significant health and readiness issue for the U.S. military.

Recommended Content:

Hearing and Balance Injuries

Transition support for servicewomen planning to leave the military

Three women in military uniforms standing together

As of today, the WHTT has supported more than 1,300 servicewomen to date.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Program Office

Walter Reed, VA focus on joint efforts in 3D medical application

Three physicians wearing masks; one sitting at a desk, two standing

The JIF award focuses on the Department of Defense/VA 3D Printing Consortium for Medical Applications.

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Health Care Technology | Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Program Office

Navy audiology increases medical readiness and hearing awareness

Soldier wearing mask, sitting at laptop with a container of ear plugs close by

"The mission of Navy Audiology is to prevent occupational-related hearing injuries and increase medical readiness."

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Hearing and Balance Injuries
Showing results 1 - 9 Page 1 of 1
Refine your search
Last Updated: August 08, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.