A group of us got together for dinner a while back. There were five old audiologists sitting in a nice restaurant, having a cocktail (or two) and dinner, while talking about von Bekesy patterns and the past. I don’t recall exactly what I ate that evening, but I certainly remember the conversations. At one lull, a past president of one professional organization banged a fist on the table and suggested that audiologists needed to talk seriously about the AAA’s successes, failures, and directions.
All of us agreed: somewhere through the years, things have changed with the Audiology Academy. I don’t think it was any one thing in particular but rather a combination of factors. Maybe the change was partially fuelled by a shift in philosophy, or the occasional side-road detour, or perhaps rapid growth of members and money, or other unknowns that resulted in AAA being in the position that we find it today. No matter the causes, all five of us agreed that AAA started out as really different than it is now. (Different being neither good nor bad—just not the same.)
As the evening progressed, discussions ensued, problems were defined and solutions were proposed. I think we ended up with lots of suggestions. First of all, we agreed that….
Wait a minute. It’s not about us anymore. Others have a much larger stake in AAA. And, with “AudiologyNow!” coming up, some of you may need a topic to discuss between sessions and visits to the exhibit floor or the oasis. Here’s something to think about:
What do YOU want, and/or what do YOU expect of a Professional Organization? (The key words here may be “You” and “Professional”.)
If recalled correctly, many audiologists have asked the Academy in the past for such things as marketing information, intercession with manufacturers, entertaining journals, fun and prizes at an annual meeting (and that meeting should be in a “nice” place), higher education and respect, lower costs for just about everything, a “lobbying” house near Capitol Hill, and wide recognition among the public, congress, and other professionals. I might also have wished for a few of those things myself from time to time. Are all these things really the job of a professional academy?
What are the good things that the AAA has done or is doing for Audiology? Here are ten things the Academy might put on their “we did this right” list:
- Audiology became more commercial, and did so because of AAA
- Audiologist made someone’s “10 Best Jobs” list
- The Academy tried really hard to be a lobbying entity and bought a house in DC
- The Academy publishes several journals and “trade magazines” each year
- AAA embraced the AuD degree and “powered” it to the front of the profession
- The Academy “took on” and revised graduate educational programs: the result…
- Over 70 academic programs now produce graduate audiologists in the US, and…
- AAA has two special certification programs—pediatrics and cochlear implants
- The AAA produces/sponsors an annual Trade Show
- The Academy took the place of ASHA and some dispenser groups
There are likely a number of audiologists who would disagree about some of these being in the “we did it right” category. What’s missing from this list? Ethics definition and enforcement? Educational standards and consistency? More emphasis on business? Professional decisions? Clinical prowess? Political power? Perhaps just as important, what would be on the “we missed the boat” list?
But, again, wait! Make your own list—either good or bad—and try to put your items in what you think is a reasonable order of importance. And then, compare it to what you think has been, will be, or should be the tasks of the Academy. Are you completely satisfied? Disappointed? Shocked? If any of these, your next task should be in helping to decide future direction(s). After all, it’s your professional Academy.
I hope that you add your comments to this blog. Perhaps you can help generate some helpful discussions about the future of audiology. Maybe some of the leaders of the field will listen or even participate. Perhaps, you might agree with some old audiologists.
And, don’t forget, you really owe it to the Academy to write them a note also.
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.