HHTM hasn’t tracked changes in annual rankings of audiology graduate programs on a year to year basis, but plans to do so from now on.  Past rankings disappear from on the US News and World Report web page as it updates each year.  Table 1 shows the top ranked programs for 2016.  Table 2, at the end of this post, contains the full list of 68 program evaluations.

 

Table 1.  Top Ranked Audiology Graduate Programs in 2016

Rank

School

1

Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN

2

University of Iowa, Iowa City IA

3

Washington University in St Louis

4

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

4

University of Washington, Seattle WA

7

Northwestern University, Chicago IL

7

University of Pittsburgh

9

Arizona State University, Tempe AZ

9

Ohio State University, Columbus OH

9

Rush University Medical Center, Chicago IL

9

University of Arizona, Tucson AZ

 

On Evaluating the Rankings

 

As yearly rankings disappear, it is hard to know, or remember, whether a school’s fortunes are trending upward or falling by this metric.  At the same time, the actual value of the metric itself remains somewhat impenetrable (Why are their so many ties? What is the significance of a .1 difference?).  

David Kirkwood first opined on this topic on March 21, 2012.  His points, reprinted below in their entirety, are as relevant today as they were five years ago.

 

By David H. Kirkwood 

In writing about the latest rankings of university audiology programs by U.S. News & World Report various thoughts crossed my mind

One was that it’s wise to take any such effort with a grain or two of salt. In fairness, U.S. News seems to use a reasonable approach in compiling its rankings, namely sending surveys to the administrators and faculty of every program in the country. However, I wonder how much the people at one university’s audiology program really know about the quality of most other programs.

I suspect that for the most part they are going by what they have heard about other programs’ reputation, and not on the basis of concrete, first-hand knowledge of the faculty, students, courses, and resources at other universities.

And what determines a program’s reputation? While there are various factors, I’d bet that the one that most influences U.S. News‘ “voters” is how a given audiology program did in the previous ranking, four years earlier. That would explain why, despite all the changes that may take place in a program over so long a time a period, the rankings change very little.

Another reason for skepticism about attempts to evaluate and compare audiology programs is that such judgments are inherently subjective. Knowledgeable people can and will disagree on the quality of a course, a teacher, an administrator, or a research project. And no quantitative criteria exist that can be used to produce an objective, indisputable assessment of such a complicated entity as an entire academic program.

That said, I have no quarrel with the rankings that U.S. News came up with. In my own, admittedly subjective, opinion, based on considerable experience with faculty and graduates of many of the top-ranked audiology programs, I have no reason to doubt that they deserve the high scores they have been given.

On the other hand, there are also some outstanding teachers, writers, and researchers at less heralded programs. It would be a mistake for that reality to be forgotten in the excitement and controversy over the question of who’s number one.

 

The 2016 List 

Sixty-eight programs in the US are included in the 2016 US New and World Report rankings (Table 2).  Six schools weren’t ranked:  Bloomsburg Univ of Pennsylvania, Lamar University (Beaumont TX), Louisiana Tech University (Ruston LA), University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences Campus (San Juan PR), University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg MS), University of the Pacific (San Francisco CA).  

Table 2.  Audiology Graduate Program Ranking for 2016 

Rank

School

1

Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN

2

University of Iowa, Iowa City IA

3

Washington University in St Louis

4

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

4

University of Washington, Seattle WA

7

Northwestern University, Chicago IL

7

University of Pittsburgh

9

Arizona State University, Tempe AZ

9

Ohio State University, Columbus OH

9

Rush University Medical Center, Chicago IL

9

University of Arizona, Tucson AZ

13

Indiana University–Bloomington, Bloomington IN

13

Purdue University–West Lafayette, West Lafayette IN

13

University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, Minneapolis MN

13

University of Texas–Austin TX

17

James Madison University, Harrisonburg VA

17

University at Buffalo–SUNY, Buffalo NY

17

University of Colorado–Boulder CO

17

University of Maryland–College Park MD

17

University of Memphis, Memphis TN

17

University of South Florida, Tampa FL

17

University of Wisconsin AuD Consortium, Madison WI

24

University of Kansas, Lawrence KS

25

Syracuse University, Syracuse NY

26

University oof Cincinnati OH

26

University of Florida, Gainesville FL

26

University of Nebraska–Lincoln NE

26

University of Tennessee–Knoxville TN

30

Northeast Ohio AuD Consortium (Univ of Akron-Kent State Univ), Kent OH

30

San Diego State University, San Diego CA

30

University of Connecticut, Storrs CT

30

University of Massachusetts–Amherst MA

34

Central Michigan University, Mt Pleasant MI

34

Gallaudet University, Washington DC

34

University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign IL

37

Ohio University, Athens OH

38

CUNY-Brooklyn College, New York NY

38

East Tennessee State University, Johnson City TN

38

Northeastern University, Boston MA

38

Towson University, Towson MD

38

University of Louisville KY

38

Univerrsity of Northerrn Colorado, Greeley CO

38

University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City OK

45

Auburn University, Auburn AL

45

Northern Illinois University, DeKalb IL

45

Wayne State Univerrsity, Detroit MI

48

Montclair State University, Montclair NJ

48

University of North Texas, Denton TX

48

University of Utah, Salt Lake City UT

48

Utah State University, Logan UT

48

Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo MI

53

East Carolina University, Greenville NC

53

Louisiana State University Medical Centerr–New Orleans LA

53

Missouri State University, Springfield MO

53

West Virginia Univeresity, Morgantown WV

57

LI AuD Consortium (Adelphi-Hofstra-St John’s Univ), Garden City NY

57

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock TX

57

University of Arkansas–Little Rock AR

57

University of South Dakota, Vermillion SD

57

Wichita State University, Wichita KS

62

Ball State University, Muncie IN

62

Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale FL

62

Salus University, Elkins Park PA

65

Illinois State Univerersity, Normal IL

65

University of South Alabama, Mobile AL

67

A.T. Still University of Health Sciences, Mesa AZ

67

Idaho State University, Pocatello ID

 

feature image from psychology schools

Mike Metz PhD

by Michael Metz, PhD

 

“You are an ethicist! and speak with knowledge.”  (comment to “A Changing Ethical Structure“)

When I began submitting posts at HHTM, I sought to provoke discussion on several topics, in hope of soliciting informed Comments.  Occasionally, I get a complimentary, concise and definitive one as shown above. 

Not all comments are soft balls; the practices and limitations of Audiologists pose issues which are difficult to discuss.  Attempts to do so often result in criticisms which are unsubstantiated, controversial, non-supportive, and/or in the minority.

 

“Where does the audiologist fit in?”

 

Another comment to the same post last month is controversial and open-ended.  I hope others will not only read it, but consider offering a short response of their own, as I am doing today.  Here’s the comment, followed by my responses to several items raised:

 

…What needs to be done is that the word “audiologist” be removed and a more appropriate word coined in its place. An audiologist could be essentially a technician, and a hearing aid fitter/specialist could be a clinician. I don’t blame audiologists for encroaching into both avenues because they think that they know everything there is to know from the audiological standpoint, as well as the patient standpoint. The audiologist at a hearing aid manufacturer is a parroting device for hearing aid technology and rarely knows much about the psychology of hearing impaired people. Its true that too much education clouds the ability an audiologist to fulfill both roles. The education is in audiology and the money is in hearing aid fitting and dispensing, and which is why audiologists continue to deny space to HAD’s by ways of limiting them in tasks that lead to diagnostic conclusions. I have noticed that because of this approach audiologists are not getting professional recognition and respect of the hearing impaired community. The “superior than thou” attitude of audiologists is not paying off. I notice that audiologists have education as their foundation, which is great, but almost very little application of such assets in our field. Lets face it: Helping the hearing impaired needs the approach of a physician, or a psychologist, and definitely not an audiologist!

Our profession is 80% psychology, and 20% technology. Where does the audiologist fit in? Any answers?

 

Responses, if Not Answers

 

  • The first and most substantive issue involves the statement “…a hearing aid fitter/specialist could be a clinician.”  In many states, functioning as a clinician would be illegal, as a fitter/dispenser cannot claim to be a clinician and cannot provide clinical services. These laws, to my knowledge, do not disallow audiologists from doing both even though billing for many clinical services is a problem.  The “mix-up” between audiologists and hearing aid fitter/dispensers is a root problem facing audiology today.  

 

  • Furthermore, I think there are many audiologists in the employ of HA manufacturers who are quite knowledgeable.  Sales people in the field may not be quite that well versed, but they would seem to me to be better than, oh, say, an attractive sociology major detailing physicians about pharmaceuticals.  Such HA field reps must be working well since I read that hearing aid sales are rising.  If you want better informed reps, bias your purchases towards the ones that meet your requirements, provided the products prove similar.

 

  • And, just to be clear, I used to teach that anyone can “make a diagnosis”, but if you are not licensed as a physician, you are guilty of practicing medicine without a license, and you better never be wrong.  A diagnosis is the prerogative of a physician, not an audiologist.  And certainly diagnosing is not an option of anyone not trained in any clinical skill.

 

  • I certainly agree with “The “superior than thou” attitude of audiologists”, and I also reluctantly agree that it is not “paying off” for many.  In support, I would offer the public viewpoint as reflected in the national legislative efforts.  It’s generally not a good sign when the government steps in to regulate a field.

 

  • Finally, all arguments for justification cannot place a traditionally trained clinician of any other discipline in a better position to provide help to a hearing impaired person.  The fact than many audiologists are not providing all the help they should or could is not an argument for substituting a psychologist or technologist in the place of an audiologist. 

 

  • Audiologists have historically been a part of the medical laboratory input aiding an otolaryngologist. Audiology contributions are substantial to the care of hearing impaired patients.  In fact, if one inspects the work environments of audiologists, one will conclude that one of the largest employers of audiology skills probably involves ENT clinics.  The fact that most of the clinic-employed audiologists sell hearing aids is a partial answer to your last question. 

 

No Time to Bunt – Keep Those Comments Coming

 

During these times, when the efficacy of audiology is under fire, all audiologists need to address such issues as are raised by these comments.  Hard questions are not answered easily.  Thank you for your comments, be they hard balls or  soft balls.

 

Mike Metz, PhD, 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.

 

feature image from John Paciorek