gael-hannan-2015-introHEARING VIEWS

Gael Hannan, Editor
Hearing Views discusses important issues that impact both audiology professionals and the people with hearing loss that they serve. Topics range from education and advocacy to industry, technology and the client-professional relationship, and more. Comment Policy


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By David Baldridge

 

I have been researching the workplace experiences of people with hearing loss for nearly two decades. During that time, I’ve been fortunate to learn from the experiences of hundreds of amazing people. Every story is different and there are rarely easy or permanent fixes. Career success is rather a lifelong journey that hearing loss impacts every step of the way. 

The strategies below are the result of the broad themes rooted in my research. 

 

 Know yourself. First, think about your core values as well as your goals in life. It’s valuable to clearly define what is most important to you so that you can prioritize your time and energy accordingly. How much time and energy do you want to spend on work and non-work activities such as hobbies, friends and family?

Know what you want from work. Think about what you want from work and create your own personal definition of career success (e.g. meaningful work, recognition, promotions, salary, etc.). It can be emotionally depleting to stress about aspects of work that don’t truly contribute to feelings of fulfillment. Given the challenges tied to being Deaf/hard of hearing in the workplace, it is particularly important to have a clear picture of what you want from your work.

Take an unflinching look at how hearing loss impacts your work. Be honest with yourself and evaluate how hearing loss may impact your contributions in the workplace. Friends, family and coworkers are a great source of feedback. How does being Deaf/hard of hearing positively and negatively impact your work? What parts of your job are most/least enjoyable or stressful? Once you identify areas of your work that may be impacted, find ways to maximize positives and minimize negatives.

Find your highest and best use. Find work that you enjoy and that allows you to make important contributions to your employer. How can you add the most value? Perhaps this means requesting accommodation or job crafting or changing jobs or even changing careers.

Maximize your human and social capital. Employers hire for the value that you can add. Stay abreast of your work, and continually add to your skills, knowledge and abilities. You can also increase your value by building relationships that are helpful to your employer. Many successful individuals who are Deaf/hard of hearing develop strong areas of technical expertise and build strong relationships serving others who are Deaf/hard of hearing.

Choose a positive mindset. What are you grateful for? Focus your time and energy on aspects of work and home that make you feel happy and fulfilled. Research suggests that those who look inward rather than outward to gauge their success are more satisfied with their careers.

Build strong individual relationships. Just because deafness and hearing loss can be isolating doesn’t mean that it has to be. Take time to build positive relationships with your coworkers while practicing positive self-advocacy. Building positive relationships at work will not only enhance your career, it will enhance your life.

Practice positive self-advocacy. Take charge of your (dis)ability by speaking up about your communication needs in a positive manner.  Be a patient, and positive educator and offer to help others at least as often as you ask for help.

Stay abreast of assistive technology. One way to overcome barriers and siege opportunities is to stay abreast of technology. Minimize communication issues by maximizing your knowledge and use of such technology.

 

No single set of strategies is universally applicable as we are all either growing or declining, but constantly challenging oneself to grow by practicing communication and positive self advocacy skills is important. This can range from striking up a conversation with a complete stranger to reaching out to an old friend. The key is to reach out in small ongoing, everyday efforts that are generally enjoyable but that also allow us to grow. Organizations like HLAA and ALDA provide safe havens to gather strength and skills.

My own research is ongoing, and if you would like to participate in my research and share your personal experiences, I would love to hear from you. Please email me at david.baldridge@bus.oregonstate.edu 

 

BaldridgeDavid Baldridge’s research focuses on the workplace experiences of people who are Deaf/hard-of hearing (DHH). His goal is to conduct rigorous research that sheds new light on what individuals and organizations can do to maximize the inclusion of people who are DHH. It is about tapping into abilities. David is an Associate Professor at Oregon State University, Newcomb Fellow and Research Associate for NTID. He has authored numerous articles and book chapters including two recent articles in Hearing Loss Magazine (follow links below) and for Oxford University Press.

 

 

 

Mike Metz takes a sharp-eyed look at the Continuing Education system for hearing health professionals.

 

For many years, Bob Sandlin and I provided continuing education courses throughout California, bringing various “authorities” to annual meetings in order to fulfill the continuing education requirements.  We followed what we thought was the intention of continuing education, even though we took advantage of the knowledge of audiologists employed by manufacturers.

Dutifully, we submitted courses for approval, logged attendance, monitored breaks, and reported hours to the licensing agencies.  I am pretty sure those agencies trusted us although, notably, they never audited our records.  The arrival of the Internet and streaming, recorded classes and lectures, and a huge variety of offerings by CE providers changed things.

Which brings me to my criticisms of the present CEU “system”:

 

  • The only course Bob and I could not get approved over the years was a lecture by the guy who invented cochlear implants. Even though the protocols for implanting involve ruling out hearing aid success—the people in the field dealing with hearing aids have to test appropriately—the criteria for referral and implanting was unknown to most clinicians and salespeople.  We knew because we asked!  The board said such information was not appropriate.  Who makes decisions about what is needed, required, appropriate or whatever?  I still wonder about that.

 

  • California, and I suppose other states as well, require that some audiology CEUs involve hearing aids and some hours are “audiology-oriented”. How does the state know what I need to get or remain current?  Let alone what materials I might use to continue my education.  Is there some master sheet of things I should know that is kept by “those guys”?  How do they get their data?

 

  • In California, physicians who have a dispenser in their office must also be licensed as a dispenser and must adhere to the CE requirements. This is a throwback to the concessions made in getting HA licensing into law.  Of all the physicians who attended our courses, I recall only a few who:
    • did not leave early
    • stayed awake until the end, and/or
    • did not “do charts” during the presentations.

Do all states do it this way or is it just folks on the Left Coast?  Why would physicians need CEUs when they probably never got any hearing aid EUs?

 

  • Does anyone who takes a CE course need to demonstrate the amount they learned via a test? Do most tests do any more that assure anyone who asks that this attendee merely attended?  Do the agencies overseeing these courses and our competencies really distrust us to the point that they believe we are only sincere if we take a simple test?  I was a professor at one time—I know how these things work.

 

  • In thinking about agencies, associations, or companies keeping track of my CE hours, I guess they deserve a fee for such organization. But I hope that they don’t think that the paying of this fee (after registering and taking “tests”) assures anyone that I got more from the presentation than I would have if I didn’t pay the fee. And, if the licensing or the CE-requiring association thinks that such “logging” by some agency other than me proves that I am honest, boy, have I got a guy selling a bridge that they might be interested in buying.

 

  • Here’s a big one. How does anyone monitor the courses that receive “approval”?  I have reported instances where information, materials, and ideas from sources other than the presenter have been passed off as unique.  Not once have I been notified that anyone investigated these plagiarisms.  Perhaps those presenters were sent a copy of journalistic or publishing rules, but somehow, I doubt it.

 

I was once on a panel that also consisted of a person who noted that all of the continuing education that his dispensing organization presented was “approved.”  He failed to note that the approving body was voluntary and not “official”.  Stated simply, it appears that most fields requiring continuing education do so as an effort to demonstrate to their consumers that they are concerned enough to learn new things and keep current with their profession.  The facts would seem to imply that CE does very little for most except to salve the public.  This is probably self-evident, even to the public.

There are some who relish and consume education during their entire professional career.  Some do CEUs reluctantly and only because it is required.  How does the public tell the difference?  I suspect they don’t know and have little except their own observations to inform them.  And, that’s a shame because continued learning is essential in most every field.

It would do every profession well to regulate, choose, and monitor their continuing education carefully.  If they don’t, sooner or later, some agency will step up and do it for them.

And that, people, is what happened to us.

 

Michael Metz, PhD

Michael Metz, PhD

Dr. Metz has been a practicing audiologist for over 45 years, having taught in several university settings and,  in partnership with Bob Sandlin, providing continuing education for audiology and dispensing in California for over 3 decades.  Mike owned and operated a private practice in Southern California for over 30 years.  He has been professionally active in such areas as electric response testing, hearing conservation, hearing aid dispensing, and legal/ethical issues.  He continues to practice in a limited manner in Irvine, California.