By Kari Morgenstein
2010-2011 SAA Board of Directors
Chair, SAA Advocacy/Government Relations Committee
Advocacy. How many times, in your graduate career have you heard this word thrown around? Throughout my first year as an AuD student I have heard this word used in numerous settings. From clinical supervisors, professors and at various conferences, we are constantly reminded that we, as students, need to stand up and advocate. The expression, “we are the future of audiology,” might be a bit cliché, but it is the truth.
On February 2, 2010, the SAA Chapter at the University of Florida launched its first ever “Gator-Aid Challenge,” showing that you don’t have to be a practicing audiologist to advocate for our profession. The goal of this challenge was to help promote and educate important issues in our field to our patients, families, and friends. We developed a competition in which first, second, and third years competed against each other to promote advocacy. Students developed and handed out brochures to patients that contained information on current legislation, and advised patients to contact their senator and/or representative through e-mail or a written letter. Chapter members participated in these activities by writing their own e-mails to government officials and donating to the Academy’s PAC.
The Gator-Aid Challenge was not flawless but, at the end of the day, over 40 emails promoting audiology were sent to government officials and numerous donations were made to the Academy’s PAC. This might not sound like much but, when it comes to advocacy, every little bit helps. Imagine if every audiology program in the nation sent 40 emails to government officials and each SAA member made donations, of any amount, to the Academy’s PAC!
There will be no friendly “challenges” set up when we graduate but, if we learn the importance of advocacy now, as students, we can continue to stand up and promote change in the future as practicing audiologists!