Spotlight on Mercedes our Clinical Scientist

Mercedes is our Clinical Scientist, specialising in Audiological science, providing a compassionate voice of support to all patients of all ages. She strives to go above and beyond for every patient to ensure they receive the best patient care.

In addition to rehabilitation, Mercedes works as our procedural lead, ensuring our practise is up-to-date with the latest clinical and operational protocols at all times. This support has been pivotal for our return to practice throughout the COVID pandemic. 

Here Mercedes shares her story of working at Clifton Audiology and tips for looking after your hearing.

What made you want to train to become a Clinical Scientist, specialising in Audiology?

I previously worked with Fiona Watts for five years as her personal assistant and 12 other consultants of varying medical specialities. Throughout this time, I became increasingly drawn to patients with hearing loss. At this time, I lived with my grandparents, and I experienced the overwhelming impact that hearing loss can have on a family member; I felt compelled to help those with hearing loss as much as possible. I often witnessed a lack of compassion, patience or understanding towards people with a hearing loss. Therefore, with Fiona’s encouragement and support, I left my role as her PA to study for my MSc to become a Clinical Scientist in Audiology.

What’s the best thing about your job?

My job is intrinsically rewarding. I love helping people hear better, enabling them to connect better with the world around them and feel less isolated. Hearing difficulties and problems with tinnitus or balance have a hugely debilitating impact on quality of life and our general well-being. Knowing that each day at work, I could make a difference to improve my patients’ quality of life is incredibly important to me. Every day at work is so different, and I love meeting new people, talking with them and listening to learn more about each individual’s story.

What are the top three things people can do to take care of their hearing?

1.       Use ear protection: This is so important! I always strongly advise wearing ear protection when exposed to any high intensity of sound, whether recreational at a music concert or through occupational exposure with machinery/artillery. We know that loud sounds can be harmful to the hearing system, no matter how brief they are, so preventing this damage is vital.

2.       Don’t use cotton buds! I know it is so tempting to grab a cotton bud to ease that itch in your ear or try to get that bit of irritating wax out, but using a cotton bud will make things worse. There is a risk of damage to your ear canal or even perforating the eardrum, and with wax, you will end up just pushing it further into your ear where it will get stuck and have to be removed by a professional. Listen to the old wives tale: never put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear!

3.       Manage stress levels: Looking after your general well-being and prioritising your self-care is also relevant to looking after your ears. We know that stress and anxiety have an enormous impact on tinnitus perception (noises in the ears) and balance-related symptoms. Our brains can only cope with so much at once; if you are functioning under heightened stress and pressure, this can affect your sleep, energy levels, memory and mental capacity for concentration and attention. All of these factors can influence how effectively you can listen to conversation and process auditory information. I always encourage my patients’ to focus on self-love and care using relaxation methods or physical activities that they enjoy and work for them.

Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

I am very much a family person, dedicated to time spent with those I love. I am a keen runner and share this hobby with my husband.   I have always loved art, and enjoy getting stuck into any craft I can. Recently I have been involved in some virtual pamper parties where I share my passion for self-care and love of cosmetic products. The joy of pampering and having time to relax is so important in what has been a very challenging and stressful year for us all!

What are you looking forward to most in 2021?

I hope we are all filled with a sense of optimism for what 2021 may bring us. I am most looking forward to the day when I can safely visit my Mum and Grandparents and hug them. Although we have adapted to COVID-19 safety measures very effectively at the clinic, I look forward to when my patients can see my face again and the difference that will make when helping those with hearing loss. My husband and I are also welcoming two beautiful Ragdoll kittens into our family this year – I am incredibly excited!

Mercedes Collins