When Chynna Frana attended the University of Iowa’s freshman orientation, one student shared how he changed his major five times and was coming out a doctor.
Frana told her father, “Don’t worry. That won’t happen to me.”
He asked whether she meant changing her major or becoming a doctor.
“Both,” she said.
Frana changed her major three times and came out a doctor, then moved to Colorado Springs June 1 to run an audiology clinic.
This week the 27-year-old Frana, doctor at the Broadmoor Hearing Clinic, discussed caring for patients, her career inspiration and her most unusual pseudonym.
Where are you from?
I was born in Iowa, which is where I did my undergrad. I got my graduate degree from Western Michigan University and I did my residency just north of Chicago.
At Iowa I majored in linguistics and minored in business. My dad wanted me to go into business and I was undecided at the time — I secretly wanted to major in dance.
But I declared business as my major and then studied abroad in Italy. With that program we did a lot of focusing on our future and I discovered I liked learning more about language and culture, so I got into linguistics when I came back.
That was my junior year and around the same time, my mother was diagnosed with middle ear disease and she said I should go and shadow her audiologist because she thought I’d like it. … Then I got into my graduate program and now here I am.
The dry weather. I wanted to go to a drier climate and was looking out West. And I have family in the Denver area. They always said how beautiful it is out here. I came out for something called hearing aid camp in Keystone while I was in school and I loved the weather (it was summertime) and figured this is somewhere I could live, so I started looking for jobs. I saw this posting and applied.
What do you do here?
We see adult and geriatric patients. We do hearing tests, fit hearing aids — manage your whole hearing health.
We look at how your ear is functioning, how the eardrum is moving, if there is anything going on between the external, middle and inner ear. We test the pathways leading to the brain and we look at other patient needs. Would a hearing aid suit them? Is it more appropriate to look at a cochlear implant or a Baha system?
We talk with the patient and the family to get a sense of what they need. We also do balance testing to address a condition called BPPV, or benign paroxsysmal positional vertigo. It’s when people get up from sitting or roll over in bed and get really dizzy. … We can manage the vertigo.
Did you always want to run a practice?
With my business background, I knew I wanted to run or own my own practice someday. I like the behind-the-scenes business side of audiology. When [my boss] said I would be running the practice and in charge of everything, I was excited. It’s exactly what I wanted to do; I just didn’t expect to be doing it this soon after graduation.
Was that intimidating?
A little bit. This is my first time being an audiologist and not a student anymore. You have to find your footing and you have the challenge of making sure your patient orders come in and are on time and getting equipment set up and verified — but also managing the front office. That’s another challenge. It was a little overwhelming at first.
I’m also this young person out of grad school, so you wonder how patients will welcome you. Will they take me seriously? That sort of thing.
Does your age come up often?
Every new patient mentions my age. But it’s been good. People have been taking to me and taking me seriously and appreciating my knowledge. I did go to school for a long time and know what I’m talking about. The transition has been a lot better than I could have hoped for.
What’s your favorite thing about this job?
Two things: What I love about my patients is getting to know them. I love to get to know their stories. Some of my patients have lived through a lot and hearing about that is fascinating. On the audiology end, my favorite thing is probably fitting a hearing aid on a new patient for the first time. … You get that, ‘Oh my gosh, I can hear!’
What’s your favorite thing about the business side?
The marketing and advertising. That’s what I really enjoyed in school. And my linguistics background has helped me with the marketing side and knowing the words I should use.
Funny story: I worked in a study abroad program, CIMBA Italy, at its headquarters in the U.S. I would answer the phone, ‘CIMBA Italy, this is Chynna.’
People would get confused if they called the U.S., Italy or China. So it helps to be more concise and say something like, ‘My name is Chynna, how may I help you?’
My employers asked me to use a fake name when I answered the phone from then on.
What was your fake name?
Eunice. Eunice Schnitzel. If I was going to pick a fake name, it was going to be fun to say.