Hearing loss

More than 3 million Australians have hearing loss. The experience can be stressful, debilitating and isolating. Many nurses and midwives live with varying degrees of hearing loss and may not know how to deal with it.

If you are concerned about hearing loss and would like some support you can call our confidential support line 24/7 on 1800 667 877.
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Living and working with hearing loss

For many nurses and midwives, hearing is vital to providing accurate clinical assessments and communication in their workplace. People with hearing loss report that some of the most difficult situations they experience involve group settings such as meetings, in-service training sessions and work-related functions. 

How can I tell if I am experiencing hearing loss?

You may experience:

  • muffling of speech and other sounds
  • difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people
  • trouble hearing consonants
  • a frequent need to ask others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
  • a frequent need to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • withdrawal from conversations
  • avoidance of some social settings
  • partners, friends and colleagues who are becoming frustrated at repeating themselves
  • practical difficulties in your daily duties as a nurse or midwife.
Managing in the workplace

In most circumstances, hearing loss can be managed. However, it is important to consider your specific needs and clinical environment. You should approach your manager to discuss how your hearing loss can be accommodated.

An audiologist can help you assess your ability to practice safely in the workplace and identify how any potential difficulties or hazards may be managed.

Protect your hearing:

It’s important to take steps to protect your hearing, even if you are not experiencing hearing loss.

  • Use earplugs around loud noises.
  • Turn the volume down.
  • Give your earstime to recover.
  • Stop using cotton buds in your ears.
  • Take medications only as directed by your GP.
  • Keep your ears
  • Get up and move.
  • Manage stress levels.
What can I do next

Our service provides free and confidential support 24/7, to nurses, midwives and students Australia wide. Our team is made up of registered nurses and midwives, and some of them have continued their careers alongside hearing loss! If you would like to speak to someone call 1800 667 877, or you can request support via email.

If you would like to know a bit more about the service before getting in contact — take a look through accessing support.

Other links and resources

Know Your Rights in the Workplace (Hearing Impairment)

Hearing loss can be covered by the Australian Disability Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against an employee on the basis of their disability if they are able to perform their duties with reasonable adjustments. Learn more about your rights.

Hearing loss - communication in the workplace — Better Health Channel

Guide to navigating communication about hearing loss in the workplace. 

‘Nurses with undiagnosed hearing loss: implications for practice’ — OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing

This peer-reviewed journal article examines the prevalence and effects of undiagnosed hearing loss among nurses.

What it’s like to become a nurse with hearing loss — Hearing Like Me

Young nurse Annie Resetar was diagnosed with moderate to severe hearing loss at two years old. She discusses her experiences becoming a nurse.

NDIS: Questions and Answers for People with Hearing Impairment

This article offers information about eligibility for funding of hearing aids through the NDIS.

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