Ohio State University Goes to Capitol Hill
The frigid temperatures and snow flurries in Washington, DC, did not discourage a group of passionate and determined students from making the almost eight-hour drive from Ohio. These students had one goal in mind, and that was to help advocate for national policies on hearing health care. Students planned to accomplish this goal by presenting information and educating legislatures about issues affecting the profession of audiology and patients with hearing loss.
On Friday, March 4, 15 students from The Ohio State University (OSU) Chapter of the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) descended upon Capitol Hill. This trip marked the fourth consecutive year that students from OSU have funded, planned, and accomplished an advocacy trip to DC. This particular group of students encompassed those with previous experience speaking with legislatures and first-timers looking to become more involved. The students from OSU have recognized the importance of advocacy early on in their careers and are looking to serve as voices to critical advocacy efforts for audiology.
Front row, from left to right: Ali Nutter, Allison Coleman, Virginia Bolster, Caitlin Donovan, Taylor Wucinich, Tracy Hoeppner, and Kayla Fuzer; Back row, from left to right: Brittney Carter, Amanda Hager, Kelly Epperson, Julie Powell, Anglea Messina, Rachel Miles, McKenna Reeher, and Sarah Neton
Students met with key congressional offices including Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), as well as a number of Ohio House offices. They advocated for the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act (S. 315, H.R. 1882) and the reauthorization of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act (S. 2424). They also discussed their concerns with and opposition to the Veteran’s Access to Hearing Health Act of 2015 (H.R. 353) and the Veterans Hearing Aid Access and Assistance Act (S. 564). Students also expressed their opposition to the Medicare Audiology Services Enhancement Act (H.R. 116).
Taylor Wucinich, a second-year audiology student on the DC trip for the first time stated, “I loved having the opportunity to voice our opinions and educate our representatives on laws relevant to the field of audiology. I felt like we as students were truly apart of making a difference.”
Sarah Neton, a third-year audiology student stated, “Advocating on Capitol Hill was such an incredible experience. As the field of audiology moves forward, it's important to educate, advocate, and collaborate across disciplines. I really enjoyed sharing our clinical stories and advocating for our patients!”
Brittney Carter, a third-year PhD/AuD student was among the group of students who traveled to DC, “I arrived in DC as a nervous audiology student with note cards, but I left DC as a confident, future audiologist looking forward to next year's advocacy trip.”
Caitlin Donovan, a second-year audiology student stated, “The trip this year exceeded my expectations. Every staff member we spoke with was familiar with the field of audiology and was very receptive to our message(s). This just goes to show that students can make a difference and Hill staff members do value our input and knowledge.”
The students at OSU recognize that advocacy is an important component to the field of audiology. Throughout the course of the four years that students have embarked on an advocacy trip to Capitol Hill, they have developed relationships with key congressional offices. The OSU students aim to promote a better understanding among elected officials of the important role of audiology in the delivery of high-quality hearing and balance care. These students want to ensure that the profession of audiology remains well represented on Capitol Hill, and are already planning their fifth trip for next year.
Students were assisted in their efforts and accompanied on the Hill by the governmental relations staff of the American Academy of Audiology, Kate Thomas and Marilyn Richmond.
President of the OSU SAA