Michael Valente, PhD is the director of the Division of Adult Audiology. He sees patients who have difficulty hearing and are looking for the best technology to provide the greatest help with hearing loss.
TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT, PLEASE PHONE (314) 362-7489.
Dr. Valente sees patients at two locations within the Center for Advanced Medicine:
The Ear, Nose, and Throat Center
4921 Parkview Place, Suite A, Floor 11
St. Louis, MO 63110
The Vision and Hearing Center
4921 Parkview Place, Suite A, Floor 3
St. Louis, MO 63110
What happened in the course of schooling to make you choose your specialty?
|Dr. Valente, his wife Maureen, and their daughter Anne.
I was going to college in Long Island, New York with the intent of becoming a lawyer, when I realized that I really wasn’t interested in law as a career. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of another vocation.
One evening at a bar I happened to talk with a gentleman who was the director of speech and hearing services at a large hospital in the Long Island area. He described his field of expertise and invited me to visit his facility. I spent the entire day there.
At the time I knew nothing about audiology, but I found it very impressive and exciting. Because of that visit I changed my course of study. I received my master’s degree and then pursued my PhD in Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Illinois.
What brought you to Washington University?
While on faculty at the University of Missouri at Columbia I was approached by Margo Skinner, the director of the Washington University’s Audiology Division. At the time, the University of Missouri’s program emphasis was in speech pathology, not audiology, and it had very little focus on research.
When Margo asked me to interview for the directorship of the adult audiology program, I found many reasons to strongly consider the offer. The reputation of Washington University, the medical center atmosphere with the strong research component, and the chance to work exclusively with adults, was very appealing to me. In addition to all of the other reasons, my wife is from St. Louis, so it seemed a good fit for my entire family. That was 20 years ago this past August.
Which aspect of your practice is most interesting?
I am fortunate that on any given day I wear four hats. One is the clinical component where I see patients and another is hearing aid research. I have administrative duties for the adult audiology, and teaching responsibilities at the Program Audiology Communication Sciences (PACS) for the Central Institute for the Deaf. I like the challenge that everyday is different.
What new developments in your field are you most excited about?
My specialty area is amplification. Ten years ago we would see a major change in how hearing aids were being manufactured about every two years. Now, we see new technology introduced every three months. The most exciting aspect for me is the continuing refinement of digital signal hearing aids.
Another dramatic improvement in technology is the directional microphone, a feature that has proven to be the best in correcting basic hearing difficulties. Other new research includes the development of new algorithms that eliminate the squealing patients hear with feedback, and a new technology for the cross communication between left and right hearing aids that allows a better bi-neural fit. In the near future, there is hope that technology will allow hearing aids to be programmable by the user. We make it a priority to keep up with the many technologic changes happening in the industry, but it can certainly be a challenge.
Where are you from originally?
I am originally from Brooklyn. A large part of my childhood was spent in an orphanage and foster homes in the Brooklyn and New York area. I attended college in New York and at 23 years of age enrolled at the University of Illinois for my doctorate. From that point forward I became a Midwesterner. New York is too busy with too many people, it creates sensory overload in me. I have no desire to move back to the East. When I recently attended a lecture in Manhattan during the Cardinals and Mets playoff series, I displayed my allegiance to St. Louis by wearing a Cardinals jacket as I walked around the city. It was quite an experience and I am glad I came back in one piece!
Which particular award or achievement is the most gratifying to you?
|Dr. and Mrs. Valente's daughter, Michelle.
The greatest achievement of my life is my family. Being a great husband and father is a real priority for me. My wife and I have raised two, very lovely young ladies. Both are attending graduate school right now. My eldest is getting her graduate degree in counseling and our youngest is working on a masters degree in journalism.
My wife recently completed her doctorate in communication sciences at Washington University and is the Director of the AuD program in the Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences (PACS) at Washington University School of Medicine.
What do you do when you are not working?
I like to read; particularly non-fiction and I have written ten text books. I travel extensively to attend and present at audiology symposiums, both nationally and internationally. I am a reviewer for four medical journals and serve as an editor for several other publications. Over the past several years I have chaired two committees, establishing national standards for hearing aid fit. And although I don’t watch very much television, there are two programs of which I am an avid fan, 24 and American Idol. On a visit to Hong Kong for a lecture, I was checking the Internet to find out which American Idol contestant was voted off while I was out of the states.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I received these two pieces of advice while growing up, “Nothing in life is free” and “Be honest and everything else will fall into place”. I think both of these statements are very true and worth remembering.
What do you think is the key to staying healthy?
Speaking from personal experience and a history of high cholesterol, I think that exercise and watching what you eat can make a big difference in your overall health. Another benefit of exercise that often gets overlooked is the reduction of stress levels.
I tried yoga and meditation, but that didn’t work for me. Not every activity or level of activity is going to work for everyone. It is important to experiment and find out what you enjoy doing. Jogging and cycling are two of my favorite forms of exercising. I ran a marathon once and would never do it again, but I recently participated in a two-day, 80 mile cycling event, and that was great.
I suggest the following word of advice about hearing health. Restrict the amount of loud noise in your environment. Use ear plugs to help lessen the amount of noise from things like lawnmowers while you are working in the yard or from using a power tool around the house. Noise has a definite effect on hearing. And if it is too loud, it will destroy the tiny hair follicles in the inner ear that allow you to hear properly.
See All Featured Physicians