As mentioned in the previous blog, cerumen (earwax) removal is no longer a service provided by the NHS due to its expenses not being covered by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) anymore. It is still, however, one of the most sought-after medical services in the UK: earwax removal has been estimated to be the most commonly performed nose, ear, and throat procedure with more than 2.3 million people each year suffering from earwax-related issues that require intervention.
If left untreated, earwax build-up can not only cause hearing loss and physical discomfort, but can also contribute to the development of ear infections and can lead to delayed assessment and treatment of underlying issues.
As expected, the ongoing demand for the procedure has significantly increased booking enquiries for independent providers. At the same time, however, only about 1,000 audiologists/hearing aid dispensers are currently estimated to be providing services to the public in the private sector.
Earwax Removal as a Market Opportunity
Although we are yet to witness a significant increase in recruitment in the audiology sector, there has been an increase in individuals interested in attending earwax removal courses with the view of becoming certified to perform the procedure themselves.
This should not come as a surprise: a career in earwax removal can be an especially lucrative one. The average cost of the service can fall anywhere between £60 and £80, sometimes reaching over £300, and a single procedure usually lasts from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the quantity of earwax present and the way it is positioned inside the ear. It is easy to see how an earwax removal career can be a tempting choice for individuals whose main motivation is the quick generation of income.
An important question that must be asked here is what effect will this have on the general quality of earwax removal services in the UK? Is it safe for individuals without extensive medical training to provide these procedures and is effective control being exercised over earwax removal practices?
What Regulations Are Currently in Place?
This line of questioning leads us to a horrifying revelation: there are currently no effective regulations as to who can perform earwax removal procedures in the UK.
Anyone who has passed an earwax removal course and is registered with the CQC can perform them, be that a nurse, audiologist, healthcare worker, or an individual without any relevant experience whatsoever.
The danger that these circumstances hide for patient safety is exacerbated by the fact that many people suffering from excessive earwax are simply not able to afford paying for the service at reputable clinics. This can push them to resort to earwax removal practitioners who may provide a cheaper service without having any relevant qualifications.
Are Earwax Removal Specialists Being Given Adequate Training?
The market niche created by individuals wishing to partake in earwax removal training has incentivised various businesses to start providing such courses. Due to the fact that course certification is currently one of the few necessary requirements for performing earwax removal, it is especially important to consider the providers of these courses and whether the training they offer is sufficient.
Are the course trainers qualified audiologists? What relevant experience do they have that makes them suitable to deliver these courses? Without knowing the answers to these questions, there is no way to determine whether newly certified earwax removal professionals have received adequate training.
In addition to questioning the quality of the training, the extensiveness should be questioned as well. Are trainees being signed off only after they have demonstrated key skills or are they being granted certifications too easily? It seems unavoidable that, given the situation, some businesses will be tempted to deem trainees as safe-to-practice instead of providing further training even if such is required so that they can continue to generate profit from new candidates instead of spending excessive amounts of time on the same trainee.
Due to this possibility, it is quite clear that regulations regarding not only the practitioners themselves, but the courses they have attended are also essential for safe practice and patient safety.
Is Practicing on Dummy Models Effective?
In many earwax removal courses, the practical part of the training is conducted on dummy models. As these can in no way replicate actual human ears, this is not only ineffective, but also dangerous to future patients.
The replications of ear canals on dummy models usually tend to be completely straight, whereas real-life ear canals are curved. This is why these models can in no way help trainees gain adequate practice of the direction or depth in which audiological instruments should be inserted inside of patients’ ears.
Additionally, practicing on models can never replicate the psychological aspect of working with real human beings who, of course, have emotions and may be anxious about undergoing the procedure.
The valuable experience that trainees need in order to be capable of performing procedures in a safe manner can only come with adequately supervised practice on real humans.
What We Believe in as a Business
We at Meduc8ion believe that safe practice should be a number one priority for every healthcare provider, and we understand the importance of extensive training for individuals who wish to become certified earwax removal specialists.
Our courses are only accessible to individuals with relevant background in the healthcare field. Furthermore, we offer our Ear Anatomy and Otoscopy course for those in need of a refresher or introduction in these areas before partaking in our Earwax Removal course.
Our courses are CPD accredited, and our Earwax Removal course consists of both theoretical and practical sessions with the practical taking place at our professional clinic in Hinckley to provide you with the hands-on experience you need to confidently practice otoscopy, water irrigation, microsuction, and manual instruments usage on patients in need of earwax removal.
In this way we ensure that our trainees are more than confident not only in their theoretical knowledge, but also in their practical skills before awarding them the qualification.
Our business development manager and course trainer Priya Tank is an accomplished audiologist who has spent more than 7 years in the field and is experienced in advising and assisting patients in need of hearing care.
Are you a healthcare practitioner on the lookout for an adequate, extensive earwax removal course that can provide you with the skillset you need to be able to safely practice the procedure? Click here to learn more about the course and secure your place today!