My name is Madeleine Lang but you can call me Maddi and I am Soundfair’s inaugural connection coach and a clinical audiologist.
Like many audiologists, my path to the profession was somewhat haphazard. I studied a Bachelor of Biomedical Science because I did not know what I wanted to do when I left school and studying science was the done thing in my family. It sounded sensible to study something health-related because I thought there would always be jobs available in health. Whilst Biomed fulfilled my curiosity to understand how things work, I could not picture myself in a white coat working in a lab and thought I was better suited to a clinical career. In looking at my options for a clinical pathway, audiology sparked some interest because of my own experience with a hearing-impaired family member but at that stage I did not understand much about the profession, so at first glance it seemed a bit one-dimensional and boring. By chance, I was exposed to audiology through a placement at the The University of Melbourne’s Department of Otolaryngology where I was assisting with collecting data from the cochlear implant clinic. There, I got to see audiologists at work. I loved how the patient’s stories were central to their work and how they were supporting people to connect with the world and the people that mattered to them. I still remember the feeling of excitement, sitting there, holding onto my chair to stop myself from jumping up to declare that I had found ‘the thing’ I wanted to do.
I was thrilled to be accepted into the Master’s program at The University of Melbourne. In my second year, I had an interaction with a client that confirmed to me that I was in the right place – it was one of those rare and special experiences where you connect with a person on another level when they need it most. Ever since that day, I have continued to chase that connection in my work.
Whilst not every encounter with a client is like that, I am comforted to know that if I keep listening and showing up there will always be another one. I am also very fortunate that in my role at Soundfair I am encouraged to lean into developing a therapeutic connection with our clients. The organisation makes a point of listening to people and working in partnership to achieve a shared vision, which I have come to learn over the years of working in various settings with different populations is really important no matter where or who your client is.
Being considered a woman in science is a strange concept to me, perhaps because I have a misguided image in my mind of what that looks like which is incongruent with how I see myself. I do, like a scientist, seek knowledge from my clients, experiment in my approach with different people based on their needs, and observe the outcomes. I use my technical knowledge to educate clients about their hearing conditions and their management options and it is a cool thing to see their confidence and sense of agency grow as a direct consequence of that. So, upon greater reflection, I am a woman in science, but it just looks a little different – no lab coat here. And just for the record – audiology is far from boring or one-dimensional.