As many of you know, I spent 4 years serving in the United States Marine Corps from 2002 to 2006. One of my Military Occupational Specialties or MOS, was 8541 which is a Marine Corps Scout Sniper. When most people find this out, they are shocked because I do not fit the typical mold of a Marine, let alone a Scout Sniper. After all, I weigh about 40 lbs. less than I did when I was on Active Duty.
After overcoming their shock, they usually ask how I went from being a Sniper to an Audiologist since they couldn't be more different from each other. Usually, I respond with, "there are more similarities between being a Sniper and being an Audiologist than you may think, especially when it comes to fitting hearing aids".
1. They both require a team effort - Snipers operate in two man teams and the Spotter is the one who is making most of the distance, wind, and elevation calls for the sniper to help him get and stay on target. This requires very good communication. This is very similar to the communication that is required between a patient and an audiologist. Without good communication, an audiologist would not be capable of selecting the best hearing aid, or custom fitting that hearing aid very well to the patient.
2. You MUST follow the Fundamentals - When it comes to shooting, fundamentals are absolutely critical. Things such as firing during your natural respiratory pause, and a slow steady trigger squeeze are extremely important if you want to hit your target.There are a laundry list of Fundamentals in Audiology that we call "Best Practices". These are specific procedures that must be followed if we want to maximize hearing aid benefit. Ignore the fundamentals, and you risk not achieving the highest level of performance possible, which in my book, is completely unacceptable. To print off the Best Practice Checklists click this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/10UX_...
3. You must execute Best Practices with Precision - To be a great Sniper, you have to be meticulous. This means when it comes to things like shooting, you have to execute the fundamentals with extreme precision otherwise you could miss your target and then the good guys may be the ones who die.When it comes to fitting hearing aids, precision is critical to maximize performance. Take Real Ear Measurement for instance. This is a method used to custom program hearing aids to ensure that the amount of amplification you receive is matching your prescriptive targets. If you don't do this Fundamental Best Practice with precision, it can have detrimental effects on your overall performance with hearing aids. To learn more about Real Ear Measurements click this link: https://youtu.be/cHR0Oa6I-wY
4. Patience - Being a Sniper usually is not like you see in the movies. A realistic Sniper movie would be about 72 hours long with about 99% of the time watching the sniper laying there looking through his scope at an observation area, and reporting back to their command center. Very rarely would you see them take a shot at a high-value target. While all of this is critically important to a mission's success, it requires an extraordinary amount of patience.
When it comes to hearing aid fittings, the fitting, programming, and training, are the fun parts. The majority of the work comes from wearing the hearing aids consistently. Research has started to show that the brain actually changes where it processes sound resulting in better auditory and cognitive performance.
There you go, those are the 4 biggest similarities between a Scout Sniper and an Audiologist. So the next time you are watching a movie about a Sniper, just remember to think about your audiologist.