Dale Johnson: Good morning, this is Dale Johnson. I am happy you can hear me this morning because not everyone easily can. One of every five Americans experiences some degree of hearing loss. The reason I bring this up is Dr. Sandra Miller of Complete Hearing is here. Dr. Miller is so passionate about hearing that she is committing her time every Saturday morning to your hearing health. So we want to welcome you to The Conversation Starts Here on KFOR FM, 103.3 12:40 AM with Dr. Sandra Miller of Complete Hearing. Dr. Miller, welcome in.
Dr. Miller: Good morning and welcome to your audiences. Well, we’re excited to be here. Launching The Conversation Starts here is so exciting. As you mentioned, we are passionate about what we do and providing some information to your listeners that really helps them live a better quality of life. And we believe that hearing care is healthcare.
Dr. Miller: So, I’m covering some topics that just really generally people don’t think about sometimes. And I like what you mentioned in the beginning that some people don’t hear as well as they possibly can. And we’re not all just about hearing, we tie a lot of other things into being an audiologist and into our practice. And so, we are so excited to have this conversation once a week with you.
Dale Johnson: 4,200 Pioneer woods drive. That’s just north-east of 70th and Pioneers. The home of complete hearing. You’ve lived in Lincoln for a couple of decades, but I am curious how a North Dakota girl from Bismarck becomes interested in hearing health and then lands in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Dr. Miller: Such a great question. North Dakota is just like Nebraska, except they grow wheat there instead of corn and it gets just a whole lot colder. So, I moved to Lincoln because I wanted to attend audiology school to get my master’s degree. So I lived in Grand Forks, North Dakota at that time, going to the University of North Dakota.
Dr. Miller: And I took a class called introduction to communication disorders. And you can go through that program and then get your master’s in speech pathology or you can become an audiologist. So the undergraduate degree essentially was in communication disorders. What I loved about it was it’s investigative, it’s trying to figure out where that problem lies.
Dr. Miller: I didn’t see myself being a speech pathologist and so I went into audiology because I love being able to connect with people. And every patient is different, which I love. You can work with a wide population of people. And every day my job is rewarding.
Dr. Miller: So I get to find a solution hopefully for every patient that walks in the door and a solution that works for them. So we moved to Lincoln in 1993 in the middle of the winter time. And winter in Lincoln was like 30 degrees. And we came from 70 below wind chill. So we took our jackets off and thought, “All you people were crazy for having your parka on and your mittens.” I am thus climatized. I don’t like now when it gets below, I don’t know, 40.
Dr. Miller: So, going here was a very big deal for us to drive with your windows open in the spring time. And we enjoy living here. So it’s been, yeah, 25 years almost. We’ve lived here.
Dale Johnson: Illustrate how complete hearing sets itself apart from other hearing businesses in the area.
Dr. Miller: That’s such a great question. I think when people think audiology, they think hearing and then they think hearing Aids. We are so much more than that. When you think about an audiologist, what I want you to think about is we are doctors of audiology, so we’re educated in the science and rehabilitation of hearing and balance.
Dr. Miller: So our goal is not just to have you come in, check your hearing, and put a hearing aid on you. That’s not for everybody. It might be a solution for some people. Our goal is to look at you as a whole entire person. So we take a very comprehensive health history.
Dr. Miller: Think about, just like when you go to the doctor. They’re going to ask you, I don’t know, “Do you take medications?” We’re trained in pharmacology to know, “Hey, you take these medications, this may be having an impact on not only your hearing, but your balance and may be tied to the ringing in your ears.” We’re also trained in terms of genetics. What comes from genetic causes? That could be potential as well.
Dr. Miller: We talk a lot about hearing conservation and how to really prevent further hearing loss or prevent it in general. So what I’d like to say is that what sets us apart is the education side so that we’re treating you as a whole person. We’re not just treating your ear. And we look at you from top to bottom in terms of how are all your systems working together and then ultimately how does that play a role in how you hear and how your balance is.
Dale Johnson: And we’re going to mine down into each of those little sub-categories in the weeks to come. Dr. Sandra Miller is with me here on Saturday morning. Dr. Miller from Complete Hearing, every Saturday at this time here on KFOR, we’re going to talk about your hearing health. And you’re not alone in your work at Complete Hearing. So introduce listeners to your team.
Dr. Miller: Absolutely. So myself and Dr. Meghanne Wetta, we are actually business partners, so we own this practice together. We do have another audiologist, Dr. Macy Schott-Miller. We work as a very cohesive team. We do have at our office, students from the university. So we are fortunate to be in a town where the University of Nebraska is and they have a wonderful doctoral program for audiologists.
Dr. Miller: So when you come to our office, you’re probably going to see a doctoral student with one of us every single day. The goal is to really make sure that they’re getting their clinical hours in a very comprehensive way and they’re learning to make sure that they’re treating the patients the way they need to be treated and really accomplishing what they need to do to graduate. And so, we are very fortunate to have the university here.
Dr. Miller: So you’ll find that. And then addition to that team of course, I would count my whole entire team. So we have a wonderful front office staff. We have a lab technician who’s amazing. We have a new practice manager. So it’s just been a wonderful, we work very much as a team. Our goal is that none of us can do our job without each other.
Dr. Miller: And so we still, I take out the trash and change the toilet paper just like everybody else does. And so when you think about working as a team, that’s what the environment you’re going to find at our office.
Dale Johnson: When you come into the newsroom, you will occasionally see a young face too because we take on interns and part-time people. It actually makes us better. Those of us who have been in the business for decades, it makes us better too.
Dr. Miller: I would completely agree. And what’s really nice is we get to tap into some of the things they’re learning at school or there may be some new research that we’re getting to find out about or they’re doing some projects. And so it’s such a great opportunity to be involved in the community and then really them helping us and us helping them. It’s great.
Dale Johnson: This is a new world for a lot of people. Our conversation and the health of their hearing. Dr. Wetta, Dr. Miller, Dr. Schott, Miller, all doctors. So differentiate a doctor of audiology from an audio tech.
Dr. Miller: Oh, that’s a great, great question. So, our profession became actually a doctoring profession. It’s been quite a while already. I’m old school. I got my master’s and then I had to go back to school and get my doctorate. And I wanted to do that because we do see doctoral students through our office. The big difference between that is the education. And so, not only do we have a four year degree in terms of a bachelor’s degree and then you go on for another four years.
Dr. Miller: Three of those years are academic. The fourth year is like an internship year where you go out and you work under someone. The big difference is just going to be the education portion of it. And also we have to log a lot of clinical hours to become, get our degree and then also to get licensed.
Dr. Miller: And so, there’s a big difference in terms of training. So it’s not just a part of pushing… I can test your hearing and then figure out a solution, it’s let me take each part of your systems and try to figure out how they work together. And we definitely work with other professionals in terms of we can screen your cognition, we can screen your fall risk, we can screen the smoking tie into what’s happening with your hearing. And so, it’s a more comprehensive look at the patient. And so, the education is a huge part of it.
Dale Johnson: I read somewhere, and I’ll circle back to something that you said because it ties into something that I read, that you confessed to having a true passion for educating your patients. How do you go about that?
Dr. Miller: That’s such a great question. What I would tell you is I think a lot of people think audiology means hearing, means hearing aid. And what we would tell you is audiology means let’s take a look at your overall health. What kind of medications are you taking? What have you had in the past as you were growing up? Chicken pox, have you had shingles? Have you had, systems that tie into, have you taken a high dose of antibiotic? Have you ever had a stroke, cancer, diabetes?
Dr. Miller: We look at your overall system. And so, a lot of times my patients will say to me, “Why did I have to fill this form out? You’re just going to check my ears.” Well, your ears are tied to your whole entire system. And we honestly don’t even hear with our ears. We hear with our brain. And so, we talk a lot about brain cognition and we talk about what does hearing loss due to the brain and what impacts does that have long-term?
Dr. Miller: So when you think about coming to an audiologist, what I want you to think about instead of hearing aid, I want you to think about, “Well I’m going to have my hearing evaluated, but that ties into your overall health.” And when we talk about spending time educating, we talk a lot about all the systems tied together. And then we talk about the impact of having, if there is hearing loss, what does that mean and what are the solutions? And not all solutions are the same for everyone.
Dr. Miller: It doesn’t always mean hearing aid. And so, I think people need to have a, I would love for them to have a better education of please come have your hearing screened because it’s important. It doesn’t mean you need a hearing aid. It doesn’t mean you’re old. And that’s the other thing, I want to see the audiologist. It doesn’t mean you’re old. People have hearing loss from birth. We see it at every single age.
Dr. Miller: And the nice thing I would tell you is we see patients at a much younger age now. They understand the importance of hearing well, they understand the impact it has on their relationships, they understand the impact it has on their job performance. So I love that people are more savvy and educated now. And our job is just to add on to the education to say, “Let us figure out how we can best help you.”
Dale Johnson: Fair to say that most people go to a hearing center based upon the referral of someone else. In other words, they don’t think they have a hearing problem. They have a hearing problem. When someone says, “You didn’t hear me?” Or, “I keep repeating myself.” Is it fair to say that’s what brings people to Complete Hearing?
Dr. Miller: Absolutely. Absolutely fair. The one thing about hearing in general is if you are going to be losing your hearing, it generally happens very gradually. So what we notice is with hearing is so different than vision. We’re so much easier to fix our vision because our vision is very obvious. With hearing loss because it’s so gradual, what happens is people kind of just get used to it and you can compensate pretty well by looking at people’s faces, reading their lips. What people tend to do is like, “Hey, you know what? I know I don’t hear very good but I can live like this.” Or, “Well, when I go to the restaurant I’ll just nod my head and say yes and be okay with that. Not understand the long-term impacts there are to hearing.
Dr. Miller: People wait too long, I would tell you. A baseline would be the best thing you can do for yourself. Find out where you are so we can monitor that through the future. We want to tell you that hearing is exactly like going to the optometrist to have your eyes checked, going to the dentist to have your teeth maintained. Your hearing is just like every part of your overall health. And I think people don’t do it because of, they don’t notice it. They compensate for it or they think, “Oh my gosh, I’m getting old,” which is not true.
Dr. Miller: There’s so many things that cause hearing loss, whether it’s noise exposure, or genetics, medications. It’s just part of your health that you want to take care of. And so I think that preconceived notion is definitely there.
Dale Johnson: More to talk about than we have time.
Dr. Miller: Oh my goodness, that is true.
Dale Johnson: As we start this particular show, our first show of Complete Hearing. It’s the conversation starts here, Dr. Sandra Miller from Complete Hearing. Every Saturday morning we talk about your hearing health. I would highly recommend going to Complete Hearing’s website. It is complete-hearing.com, complete-hearing.com. They’re located at 4,200 Pioneer Woods Drive, north-east of 70th and Pioneers. Every Saturday morning at this time, it’s The Conversation Starts Here. Dr. Miller will talk to you next week.
Dr. Miller: Great. Thank you.