For Scott Bonnell, it's always been about helping people.
But of all the people the Registered Audiologist has helped in his career, it's Canada's veterans who bring him the most joy. Bonnell is based out of Connect Hearing's Kentville, Nova Scotia (100 – 70 Exhibition Street -Valley Professional Centre) office and has spent his career assisting his clients who come to him seeking to improve their hearing health.
Bonnell, who started with Connect Hearing (Audiology Associates/Island Hearing at the time) in 2008, has the skill and qualifications to show people how to prevent and deal with hearing loss. He represents the opportunity for many veterans to reconnect with a world and to the sounds they love.
“Even myself, before I was an audiologist, I always wanted to try and have that link to veterans. I've always had a big connection with those guys,” said Bonnell. “I've made that a focus of mine. I help veterans with hearing issues of course, but I also try and help them with paperwork, red tape with insurance issues, things like that.”
Bonnell spoke to us about his role at Connect Hearing Canada, and the joy he feels in helping Kentville residents rediscover the gift of sound.
Connect Hearing Canada: What most interests you about your job?
Scott Bonnell: What interests me the most about my job are all the different people I have the pleasure of meeting. To see so many people from my community from all walks of life is fabulous. Everyone has their own story and adventures that have taken them to where they are now. I get a chance to reminisce about the past with them, learn about my community, and I also become an important part of their future.
CH: Since you've been with Connect Hearing, what has been the most rewarding or inspiring interaction you've had with a client?
SB: I can honestly say I don’t think I can pinpoint any one particular interaction. As a young clinician I already have so many memories from so many people that I have seen. A niche of my practice here in Kentville is working with veterans. I am a huge supporter of veterans and being able to help those who have fought for us. These men and women stood up to fight for the freedom of other Canadians, and that is very inspiring to me. It makes my eyes well up with pride simply thinking about it.
CH: Sadly, hearing loss is a by-product of armed conflict, and we are aware of the high price many of Canada's veterans have paid with their hearing. You work with several veterans and you have seen first-hand the impact of hearing loss.
SB: Yes, I certainly have.
CH: Can you talk about some of the issues you see in this community with regards to veterans?
SB: I see a lot of age-related issues in this community with regards to hearing. The other big issue is the veterans, because so many call this area home. This is a very large military area with Halifax south of here. Then there's Aldershot Military Camp, the other base that's right around the corner from us and of course Canadian Forces Base Greenwood, the big air force base. So this is a big military area. Many of those guys who served overseas years ago are dealing with hearing challenges today.
CH: Well, like you said, it must be a real honour to help Canadians who put it all on the line for us in the past.
SB: It sure is. I love to connect with anyone who walks into my clinic, but I really love connecting with veterans. If there's anything I can do to help them I will, because it's an important issue that's not going to go away. Just recently, we had Canadians involved in the Afghanistan War so ultimately, those young veterans are going to be the women and men I see coming into my clinic down the road with hearing issues. The war they have fought in Afghanistan will have the same impact on their ears as World War I and Korea had on our vets from generations past.
CH: Connecting is important, but communication is key to properly confronting these important issues too, right?
SB: Absolutely, but communication has to go both ways so that everyone can have a better understanding — and that applies whether you're a veteran or not. In those particular cases, my ability to try and connect with my clients, their family and friends is important.
In many instances when trying to help people who are dealing with hearing loss, I've had family members drag in loved ones who had no idea they had a hearing problem. On the other hand, I've had people come in to see me by themselves because they knew something was off with their hearing, but their families didn't see a problem or just saw them as not being interested in them. In either case, they felt the connection to their families and friends eroding. So again, that ability to reach out and connect is critical not only for myself and clients of Connect Hearing, but also for the people who care for the client and want to help.
CH: How has working at Connect Hearing changed your understanding of hearing health and the importance of maintaining hearing health?
SB: Working for Connect Hearing has not changed my understanding or importance of maintaining hearing health. What working here has done is enable me to be with professionals who share the same views. Hearing is the one human sense that never shuts off, hearing can enrich our lives in so many ways. Connect Hearing is an ever-forceful proponent of maintaining hearing health. I am proud to be part of a team that helps spread that message.
CH: Connect Hearing has been named one of Canada's greatest places to work. What makes it such a standout, in your opinion?
SB: Hands down, the people. From the top down or the bottom up, everyone is working to achieve something that benefits us all, not just themselves. It is the idea that we all work tirelessly and selflessly not to try and out do each other but to make the team stronger. Anytime I have had the pleasure of having a student intern, one of the first things I always say is that “as a professional the most important thing you need to know is that you don’t know everything.” The office works as a team and the company works as a team, we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. That type of working atmosphere is one of the reasons we are one of Canada’s best companies. I come to work every day knowing that I need my team and they need me. That’s a great feeling.
CH: What recent innovation in hearing health most excites you and why?
SB: The ever-increasing flexibility of products available. Hearing aids now have so much customization ability (in sound, materials, power, connectivity, etc.) that virtually everyone with a hearing impairment can have benefit in their particular listening situations. People don’t simply want to know what hearing aids can do, they want to know what they can do for them.
CH: Similarly, what product do you most recommend to Connect Hearing clients and why?
SB: Although I tailor things to the needs of each client, the product I recommend most is from another Canadian company, Unitron. I am always pleased with their R&D and I am also pleased that they share a similar philosophy to Connect Hearing, in that improving the lives of others is the first and main priority.
CH: What do you like to do in your spare time?
SB: I have two passions in life, outside of my love of audiology: I love to grow things and see nature flourish. My wife and I have a small hobby farm where we grow a variety of things but mainly Haskap berries. I also live for the outdoors and anything that can be done with my two legs: biking, hiking, snowshoeing, etc.
CH: For people who haven't been to your community, what can you tell them about it? And what are your favourite things to do and/or favourite places to go in your community?
SB: The Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia is incredible. We have one of the best agricultural areas available. We have the highest tides in the world. You can go to the shore and have lobster for lunch fresh from the fisherman, then within literally a few minutes be at a farm market having dessert fresh from a farmer. I think everyone always thinks they live in the prettiest place but it is truly beautiful here. We are Maritimers, and we live up to our reputation for being some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. Two of my favourite things are going to the Wolfville Farmers market every Saturday morning with my wife and biking the many beautiful kilometres of quiet trails with friends. I simply love enjoying life and all that is around me.
CH: That was wonderful. Thanks so much for your time, and thanks for all the great work you've done with our veterans. They deserve all the support that we can give them and it's great to know that Connect Hearing is there for them.
SB: Absolutely! Thank you, it was a pleasure.
If you would like to book a complimentary evaluation with Scott at our kenville clinic you can call 902.678.5682 or book online here.