News17th October 2015

UK Audiologist of the Year turns Rehabilitation into an Adventure not a Task

Southampton based audiologist receives heartfelt feedback from one of her patients

by Sarah Lawrence, Editor

After a closely fought competition, a dedicated hearing professional has been crowned the best in her field.

Sarah Baumann, who works at University of Southampton, has won the coveted title of UK Audiologist of the Year 2015, after a heartfelt nomination from one of her patients. Commenting on winning the awrad, Sarah said, "It is a real privilege to win this award as there are so many great audiologists working at the Auditory Implant Service and in Audiology departments across the UK"

The competition, which is run in partnership between the world’s leading hearing aid battery manufacturer, Rayovac (a division of Spectrum Brands (UK) Ltd) and the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA), invites patients who have received exceptional care to nominate their audiologist for the prestigious award – the biggest of its kind in the world.

Commenting on the importance of the awards, Sarah Baumann said, "At a time when NHS services, including Audiology are getting such bad press, it is fantastic to have a good news story to share and to remind us that the individual patients really value what we do."

It is these ‘hearing stories’ which are judged by a panel of independent industry professionals to determine the winner. This year was the competition’s eighth anniversary– with more countries than ever before invited to take part, resulting in a bumper summer of entries.

Sarah was nominated by her patient Sarah Smith, who described in her entry how her audiologist had been by her side throughout her hearing journey, as she was fitted with an implant – a surgically implanted electronic device which replaces the function of the damaged inner ear to enable the wearer to hear sounds again. Sarah’s dedication to her patient’s recovery and her consistent support led the judges to announce her the winner.

In her nomination, Sarah said: “I felt very privileged to be referred to the strong and dedicated audiologist team in April 2014. My first appointment was in May and following a full assessment I was considered a suitable candidate and was operated on in November 2014.

“I first met my audiologist on December 15th 2014 as my implant was activated. Since then she and my rehabilitationist have been a huge support over eight appointments and additional workshops. I was so pleased that she considered me as a partner rather than a passive recipient in the process of re-learning to hear. She has made the rehabilitation process an adventure rather than a daunting task.

“Each audiology appointment takes an hour and a half, or sometimes even longer, as my audiologist checks my hearing, including my residual hearing in my unimplanted ear, tests how my understanding of speech is progressing, listens to my feedback on what I can and can’t hear in daily life and adjusts my treatment accordingly. My husband has been warmly welcomed at these appointments and his feedback is used to help the increasingly fine tuning of my processor."

“I was very nervous before my first tuning appointment; what, if anything, would I hear? Would I hear words by Christmas? The surgeon hadn’t been able to promise anything when I had asked. After my audiologist had checked the electrodes were working, I could hear something – thank goodness. She explained what she was doing and I could hear; it sounded like a badly tuned radio in a distant room. Two days later when I was tuned again the sounds became louder and more distinct, and although still lip reading at Christmas, I could join in a little more which was wonderful."

“She made my first [audio] maps purely based on increasing volume. As I have progressed she has made them to reflect my lifestyle."

“She has even been on a walk with me to check on outside sounds which has been most helpful. She is always on hand via email to discuss progress."

“Before my operation I knew that having an implant was not a magic bullet and would not restore my original hearing. My expectation was that I would be able to converse in the family, my hope was that I would use the phone again and my aspiration was that I would be able to sing once more."

“When we started I could hear and interpret virtually nothing without looking at a speaker and now I can score 98% in repeating test sentences without looking, use a landline phone and am gaining confidence with a mobile, and beginning work to improve my understanding of music again. All this in six months! Thank you so much.”

Commenting on the description of her service ethos made to support her nomination, Sarah Baumann said, "It was lovely to read Sarah’s memories of her initial tuning stages and to hear that she had valued the sessions we had together. It has been a pleasure to work with her as she is exceptionally motivated to do well with her cochlear implant."

Judge Søren Hougaard, from EHIMA, said: “It is again extremely heart warming and encouraging to read these entries. There are some absolutely terrific, admirable audiologists out there, which makes this competition so worthwhile.”

Paula Brinson-Pyke, Marketing Director at Rayovac, said: “Sarah’s story and the countless others like it are the reason we run this competition each year. The dedication, care, patience and kindness that audiologists like her show their patients each and every day is nothing short of remarkable."

“Every year we look forward to reading so many wonderful entries from patients across the world, and with this year’s competition being extended to Austria, we’ve been able to enjoy reading entries from more countries than ever before. It’s been a delight.”

Judging is now taking place to decide which of the country winners from the participating countries will win the overall title of European Audiologist of the Year. The winner will receive a cash prize along with a certificate, which will be presented at the annual Evening of Excellence in Nurnberg this October.

For regular updates on this year’s Audiologist of the Year competition, visit, follow Rayovac on Twitter at or like us on Facebook at

Article by Sarah Lawrence, Editor

posted in Community / News

17th October 2015