Practicing Outside the Silo: The National Academies of Practice

The lowest level of “working together” with other disciplines in the practice of your profession is when professionals make their own decisions, effectively operating in silos.  A middle level of “working together” occurs when individual practitioners make independent decisions about a patient and then consult/communicate with the primary caregiver. 

A higher model of interprofessional healthcare refers to a form of practice wherein healthcare professionals from different disciplines and professions make up a health care team which makes informed and unified decisions about a patient’s care facilitated by intentional and  regular communication..  This week, Hearing International features guest author, Dr. Bettie Borton, former president of the American Academy of Audiology, who shares insights on an organization that promotes interdisciplinary discussion and collegial interaction, the National Academies of Practice (NAP)


Origins of the National Academies of Practice


The National Academies of Practice (NAP) is patterned after the historic National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a private, nonprofit organization of leading researchers in the U.S., dating back to 1863, that recognizes and promotes outstanding science through election to membership.  Now known as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the NAS provides objective, science-based advice on critical issues affecting the nation. 

The NAP,  a practice counterpart to the NAS, is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1981 to advise governmental bodies on the healthcare system in the U.S. The National Academies of Practice differ from the National Academy of Sciences in that NAP’s members are practitioners who have been nationally recognized primarily for their contributions to professional practice rather than achievements in science, although many are renowned scientists as well. The NAP is the only interdisciplinary group of practitioners dedicated to addressing the problems of healthcare practice in the U .S.

It is the goal and the objective of this self-supported organization to constitute itself as the nation’s interdisciplinary health policy forum. When Distinguished Practitioners, Scholars, and Public Policy Fellows representing fourteen different health professions are elected by their peers, they join a select group of healthcare professionals who are dedicated to supporting affordable, accessible, coordinated quality healthcare for all through interprofessional practice. 

The original idea for the National Academies of Practice surfaced in 1976 when Nicholas A. Cummings, PhD, was testifying before the Subcommittee on Health of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. The issue was Medicare reform and Dr. Cummings was representing the American Psychological Association.

During the proceedings, he became disturbed at the apparent lack of cooperation among the various health care professional societies. During dinner that same evening, Dr. Cummings suggested to his colleagues that what the Congress needed was an interdisciplinary body of health care practitioners that would set aside turf battles and advise Congress as to what was best for the American people. The concept for NAP was born. 

In ensuing years, the idea of limiting membership to the most distinguished practitioners from each profession surfaced. The prevailing sentiment was that practitioners who had already earned various honors, awards and recognition would be more willing to set aside parochial turf interests and forthrightly address the issues of national health.

Thus, the National Academies of Practice was incorporated in Washington, DC, on January 20, 1981. In 1982, NAP was awarded 501(c)(3) non-profit status. The first Academy formed was the NAP Psychology Academy.  At a historic ‘black tie’ gala event held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on August 23, 1982, the first Distinguished Practitioners were inducted into NAP by Founding President, Dr. Nicholas Cummings, and Ron Fox, NAP Psychology Chair. The establishment of more Academies soon followed, and NAP grew to represent 10 interdisciplinary Academies:

  • Dentistry
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Optometry
  • Osteopathic Medicine
  • Pharmacy
  • Podiatric Medicine
  • Psychology
  • Social Work
  • Veterinary Medicine 

In 2014, NAP added four new Academies:

  • Audiology
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Speech-Language Pathology

In terms of organizational relevancy, NAP represents a great example of an organization whose time as has come, and the NAP-Audiology Academy has an important, new-found role within its ranks, that of interdisciplinary practice. Audiology is a relative “newcomer” to NAP – but with increasing awareness of the importance of hearing health and associated co-morbidities, its presence within this multidisciplinary organization could not materialize at a more critical juncture in the history of American healthcare.  

Audiology Academy members include professionals who identify themselves as members of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), and / or the American Speech – Language- Hearing Association (ASHA). Many NAP-Audiology members are also members of more than one of these professional organizations.

Current members of NAP Audiology Academy are :

Class of 2014

  • Lucille B. Beck, PhD
  • Victor Hugo Bray, PhD
  • Linda J. Hood, PhD
  • Diantha Morse, MA

Class of 2015

  • Bettie Borton, AuD
  • Kimberly Cavitt, AuD
  • Rita R. Chaiken, AuD
  • Neil John DiSarno, PhD
  • Erin J. Miller, PhD

Class of 2016

  • Debra Joan Abel, AuD
  • Robert Fifer, PhD
  • Gregory James Frazer, PhD, AuD
  • Richard E. Gans, PhD
  • Eric N. Hagberg, AuD
  • Richard A. Roberts, PhD
  • Helena Stern Solodar, AuD
  • Lora Maureen Valente, PhD
  • Gail M. Whitelaw, PhD
  • Kadyn Williams, AuD
  • Christine Yoshinaga-Itano, PhD
  • David A. Zapala, PhD

The Class of 2017

  • Amyn M. Amlani, PhD
  • Margot Lynne Beckerman, AuD
  • Gail B. Brenner, AuD
  • Laurel Christensen, PhD
  • Jackie L. Clark, PhD
  • Allan O. Diefendorf, PhD
  • Kathryn R. Dowd, AuD
  • Larry Engelmann, AuD
  • Erica Friedland, AuD
  • Nancy Green, AuD
  • Scott K. Griffiths, PhD
  • Jaynee A. Handelsman, PhD
  • Veronica Heide, AuD
  • Cheryl DeConde Johnson, EdD
  • Antony Joseph, AuD, PhD
  • Victoria Keetay, PhD
  • Francis Kuk, PhD
  • Devin McCaslin, PhD
  • Joseph J. Montano, EdD
  • Jonette B. Owen, AuD
  • Tabitha Parent-Buck, AuD
  • Thomas Powers, PhD
  • Virginia Ramachandran, AuD, PhD
  • Paula L. Schwartz, AuD
  • Brad A. Stach, PhD
  • Juliette Sterkens, AuD
  • Linda Thibodeau, PhD
  • Brian Taylor, AuD
  • Susan E. Terry, AuD
  • Robert M. Traynor, EdD, MBA


Governance of NAP


NAP is governed by an interprofessional council representing each of its fourteen Academies. The function of the NAP Council is to make decisions affecting the strategic direction, programs and services of the organization. It is made up of all fourteen Academy Chairs and Vice Chairs as well as an elected Executive Committee and is staffed by an Executive Director.

The Council meets face-to-face twice a year, usually during the Annual Meeting each spring and again in the fall, with periodic conference calls.  Academy Chairs and Vice Chairs serve a two-year term and are elected by their respective Academies. The Executive Committee consists of NAP’s Officers: the President, President-Elect, Immediate Past President, Treasurer, and various Vice Presidents, including: VPs for Public Policy, Communications, and Membership as well as the Co-Editors of the Journal of Interprofessional Education & Practice (JIEP. The Officers are elected by the Council and serve two-year terms. 


Membership in the National Academies of Practice


Membership in the National Academies of Practice is contingent upon election as a Distinguished Practitioner, Scholar, or Public Policy Fellow within one of the 14 Academies. NAP has two additional membership categories: Associate Members and Members Emeriti. Chosen by their peers as persons who have made a significant and enduring contribution to practice, these Distinguished Practitioners, Scholars, and Public Policy Fellows have spent an important part of their lives in the practice of their profession. By their very stature, the hope is that they have transcended the turf interests of their respective professions and are prepared to address the issue of national health with greater objectivity and independence.


NAP – A Sleeping Giant?


Audiology is beginning to buzz with conversation and interest regarding its inclusion as a newer Academy in the NAP. With membership caps in place for Fellows, nominations for induction into this organization are by invitation, but the Audiology Academy ranks are beginning to swell. And with increasing emphasis on interprofessional education and practice coupled with Audiology’s quest for increased awareness of hearing healthcare and our role as providers in a complex patient care system, this development could not be more timely.

NAP is dedicated to affordable, accessible, coordinated quality healthcare for all – a concept whose time has definitely come. Members of the NAP Audiology Academy enjoy an opportunity to work collaboratively with thirteen other healthcare professions represented within NAP throughout the year, as well as at the annual Conference and Forum, usually held in March.

NAP Fellows believe that it is critical that healthcare practice incorporate a sound interprofessional foundation, and that addressing the whole person provides better healthcare, treatment outcomes, and preventive care, and can help address the Triple Aim, and the proposed Quadruple Aim, of healthcare. The deliberate inclusion of Audiology as a necessary part of such an interprofessional approach by our colleagues in other healthcare disciplines is a critical step towards appropriate recognition and relevance for our profession.

Click here to check out the Audiology Academy within the National Academies of Practice 






Guest Author: Bettie Borton, Au.D.

Dr. Bettie Borton is a licensed audiologist in Alabama and North Carolina, and has served hearing impaired children and adults and their families in a variety of professional settings for more than 35 years. She also served as a Visiting Professor, Teaching Associate and Supervising Clinical Audiologist at Auburn University and Auburn Montgomery. Founder and CEO of a multi-location independent private practice, Dr. Borton was a charter member of the Alabama Academy of Audiology (ALAA), serving as Board member and first President of this organization. She holds Board Certification by the American Board of Audiology (ABA) and was elected to their Board of Governors and, subsequently, as National Chair of ABA. In April of 2010, Dr. Borton was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Audiology, and served as President of the Academy in 2013-14. She is employed by Audigy Group, LLC, as their national Director of University and Student Outreach. In 2015, Dr. Borton was inducted into the Audiology Academy of the National Academies of Practice (NAP) and is currently serving as Chair of  the Audiology Academy.


Dr. Borton would like thank Dr. Victoria Keetay, Vice Chair of the Audiology Academy, for her input and edits to this posting.











About Robert Traynor

Robert M. Traynor is a board certified audiologist with 45 years of clinical practice in audiology. He is a hearing industry consultant, trainer, professor, conference speaker, practice manager, and author. He has 45 years experience teaching courses and training clinicians within the field of audiology with specific emphasis in hearing and tinnitus rehabilitation. Currently, he is an adjunct professor in various university audiology programs.