Working life (AVM)
This page provides useful information on the working week as well as any on-call and other commitments, along with information about who you will work with. The attractions and challenges of the job are also in this section.
"I wanted to work in a small specialty with very specialist expertise, and enjoyed the excellent training and knowledge base offered by the diploma in Audiovestibular Medicine. Being a member of a scientific discipline and multidisciplinary team is very stimulating, as is making a difference for our patients and improving their quality of life. Detective work and unravelling the origins of disease are very rewarding and it’s great finding a way through a challenging problem. Because we’re a small group, everyone can get involved and I can really make a difference to our specialty." - Audiovestibularl physician
How your time is spent
Consultant audiovestibular physicians work in a variety of settings, from community based clinics through secondary care and highly specialist academic centres. Adults and children are seen in separate clinics in all practices.
Adults and children are seen in separate clinics in all practices. A typical day in a paediatric clinic might begin at 9am with a multidisciplinary team meeting followed by outpatient clinic at 9.30am.
After seeing perhaps five paediatric patients, cases might be discussed with the multidisciplinary team and/or the supervising consultant. Paediatric clinics could present a range of difficulties from a young person coping with progressive hearing loss to a deaf newborn baby.
An adult clinic may involve seeing a mixture of new and follow-up patients with dizziness, vertigo, balance problems, hearing loss and tinnitus. At the end of a typical morning there is is usually paperwork to complete, or perhaps a meeting with radiology colleagues.
The afternoon might involve practical hands-on diagnostic audiovestibular testing in the outpatients clinic.
The work also includes academic meetings, case discussions, and teaching or training, all of which has to be fitted into the working day.
On-call and working hours
At present, there is no out-of-hours commitment and work tends to be outpatient based, either in hospital or community settings. At the end of clinic at around 5 pm there may be paperwork to finish or other meetings to attend.
Doctors in audiovestibular medicine work alongside:
- specialist nurses
- speech and language therapists
- teachers of the deaf
- hearing therapists
- medical secretaries and administrative staff
They also work closely with other specialties such as:
- paediatrics – especially child development and neurodisability
- clinical genetics
- neurology (adult and paediatric)
- otorhinolaryngology (ENT)
- geriatric medicine
- immunology and allergy
This specialty may appeal to you if you have a preference for technical practice and dealing with complex diagnostic problems. However this is also an rewarding specialty with lots of job satisfaction where you can make a real difference to the lives of often highly disabled and neglected patient groups.
Helping a dizzy adult return to work or a deaf child to develop speech and language and have access to education is very fulfilling. Establishing good communication with deaf and hearing-impaired patients can sometimes be challenging.
You will find there are good opportunities for combined posts, research and teaching. Contributing to national initiatives such as the Neonatal Hearing Screening Programme and improving care for patients with peripheral vestibular disease can be rewarding.
As an outpatient-based specialty, the strains and stresses of the role are less than in some specialties. Having the support of a highly skilled team helps make the work very enjoyable.
Audiovestibular medicine is a newer and smaller specialty and may not have the prestige associated with some others, but contributing to its development could be rewarding.