Current teens with cochlear implants will like to read of Singapore-born Dr Joseph Heng and two female students, US-born Victoria Popov, with otolaryngology (ENT) in her sights, and UK-born Genevieve Khoury, in her second year of a medical degree.
With clear surgical masks available for healthcare workers with hearing issues, and Bluetooth links going directly from stethoscopes to their cochlear implants, there is no stopping these doctors and others following in their footsteps.
Dr Joseph Heng
Dr Heng, now an internal medicine resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital, shares this insight:
In medical emergencies where I’m the doctor in charge, I assume control of my environment by keeping only the necessary people in the room and kicking everyone else out. Only one or two people should be talking at the same time.
Heng learned to use the phone while at college, years after his cochlear implant surgery by asking a friend to call him daily, for a three-month period. His medical degree is from Yale University in the US, and patient communication is a big area of interest to him:
I’ve never taken hearing and the gift of spoken language for granted. (Being born with hearing issues) has given me a different perspective of patient needs and helped me better understand the communication barriers they face. Ultimately, every patient wants to be heard.
Victoria Popov chose to pursue otolaryngologist studies after observing the surgeon who did her sequential cochlear implant surgery, operating on another patient. She also shadowed a deaf doctor in NY, whose stethoscope used cardionic headphones with bluetooth links.
When I say I’m deaf people assume right away that I won’t be able to speak. I think it’s important for people to know there are new [hearing] technologies that provide different [communication] options.
For Genevieve Khoury, having two cochlear implants meant being able to follow lectures and group sessions, allowing her to realise her dream of studying to become a doctor.
[My] stethoscope’s got a jack to connect to the Mini Microphone [bluetooth accessory which] wirelessly connects to my cochlear implants. It allows me to hear for heart sounds and respiratory sounds indicating the presence of fluid and fibrosis. I can listen to bowel sounds and whether there is increased blood flow to organs…, a good indication of which condition you’re dealing with.