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Dr Kara Hoffman

Clinical Audiologist

Dr Kara Hoffman


r Kara Hoffmanis a clinical audiologist who runs private hearing healthcare practices in Durban and in Ballito.

Kara completed her undergraduate degree in Audiology at the University of Cape Town in 2003, with a Bachelor of Science and honours degree. In 2004, she did a year of community service and thereafter worked for a school for the deaf. There she learned how to use South African sign language, which has been very useful with profoundly deaf patients.

Kara completed her masters’ degree in paediatric audiology in 2008 and obtained licensing in cochlear implantation in 2009. She is one of the few audiologists in the country to hold a clinical doctorate in audiology, which was awarded by the University of Arizona (ATSU) in 2016.

In 2011, Kara and her business partner Lauren Thompson established Thompson and Hoffman (T&H) Audiology Inc at Parklands Hospital in Durban. As Kara wanted to work with the brain and ear-to-brain connections, T&H is one of the few audiology practices in the country to offer a full range of diagnostic and rehabilitative services. These include hearing tests, balance assessments, industrial audiology, corporate audiology, newborn hearing screening, hearing aids and assistive listening devices, cochlear and middle ear implants, noise protection, auditory processing assessments, wax removal, and tinnitus assessment and management.

“Opening T&H was probably the best thing that I ever did for myself in terms of my own personal and professional growth,” said Kara. “We could give our patients individual attention and work with their specific needs as opposed to working for someone and having a guideline of how to represent their practice.”


Establishing the practice was not without challenges. Initially they needed to apply for financing to set up the desired comprehensive diagnostic audiology practice that

would enable T&H to offer the full range of audiological services to the public.

Another challenge, said Kara, is that one is “selling” something that no one wants, but many people need. This challenge has been overcome by ongoing learning, as well as with time, maturity and age.

There are many companies trying to sell hearing aids online or in shops, which is a threat to independent audiologists. Kara works to educate the public on who the right person is to see for your hearing or balance problems. She added that people with hearing aids needed to have annual check- ups and to consider a second opinion with an independent audiologist to ensure they were optimally assessed, and managed.

“In terms of the latest research, the message that I want to put out is that there’s a direct link between dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and any sort of cognitive decline and hearing loss. The number one modifiable factor is to treat hearing loss.”

The practice has been built on great relationships with various general physicians and medical specialists over the years. Kara commented that she has succeeded through, “Hard work, and dedication to the practice and to my patients. Continued education has allowed me to keep abreast of all the current trends in audiology globally.”

She added, “On a professional note, learning from my mistakes has been the biggest challenge, and the biggest cause for success. Dealing with different personalities has also been a learning curve which has also helped in all sorts of personal challenges.”

In 2016 Kara and Lauren opened their second branch in Ballito. In 2017 they moved their Durban practice to a standalone house in Essenwood Road, which, said Kara, was the best thing that happened to them.

Speaking of her journey, Kara said that her grandfather was her initial inspiration to become a medical professional, as he was an outstanding one-of-a-kind GP in Cape Town. She was concerned that the professional demands would be problematic when she wanted to have a family, however audiology resonated with her interests.

In more recent years, Kara gets inspiration from her colleagues as well as her family. “My husband and my family are all rooting for us and wanting to spread the word of the bubble of audiology that is so important in our lives.”

Kara is a member of the South African Association of Audiology, and is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). She is the executive chair of the Audiology Private Practice Forum, which represents a substantial body of private independent hearing healthcare practices in South Africa. Since her appointment, the Forum has grown from 10 members to 104 members representing over 100 practices.

Kara has been involved in upskilling audiologists and is in the process of aligning professionals to be offering international best practices in audiology.

Kara’s future goals for the practice are to stay the same size so that they can continue to give maximum attention to their patients. Her goal is to reach more hearing impaired and balance impaired individuals in the province, and to expand the reach of independent audiologists to larger portions of the population – nationwide.

The advice that Kara would give to someone who’s starting out is that being an entrepreneur comes with challenges. “Be comfortable reaching out to people for assistance. Start out small, do things properly and don’t water yourself down. Do not lose your professionalism and keep your clinical hat on. Always make the right decision for the patient and do not let finances or incentives lead you away from the right path.”

As Kara has three young children aged six, four and two, a lot of her time is spent running around after them and giving them the best chance that life has to offer. Both Kara and her husband enjoy the gym, which gives them time to exercise and look after themselves.

Being part of KZN Top Business Women, is Kara said, a real honour as well as a springboard for audiologists in the country. The profession is 99% female based and she thinks that every audiologist should be encouraged to showcase their practices and educate the public.

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