Francis Kuk, PhD
Vice President – Clinical Research, Widex
BS: Speech and Hearing Sciences, Miami University (OH), 1980
MA: Speech Pathology and Audiology, University of Iowa, 1983
PhD: Audiology, University of Iowa, 1986
Why are you interested in serving on the Academy board?
I have been most fortunate entering this profession. Most of what I own I owe to this profession. I am grateful for what I have and would like to see my colleagues and those who come after me enjoy the same privileges. I hope that everyone in this profession is given the full potential of making a difference in their lives and the lives of people with a hearing impairment. Through my involvement with the AAA Foundation the last four years, I have come to appreciate the vision and mission of the Academy and the people within the organization. This group is forward thinking; the people serving the group are compassionate about the profession. Their views and actions resonate with my hopes for the profession. I am impressed by the people of the Academy and would like to share my 30 years of professional experience with my colleagues. Working with people who share the same hopes for the profession on the Board of Directors is the best way I know to repay the profession.
What challenges or key issues do you see for the audiology profession in the next five years? What would you hope to accomplish about these challenges during your term on the board?
Any maturing profession faces challenges along its development, many times because it is growing. I am especially aware of the emergence of big box retailing of hearing devices, of the push on personal sound amplifiers and other hearables/wearables. These activities threaten the livelihood of our members, affect the standard of care for the hearing-impaired public, and marginalize the profession of audiology.
These activities occur partly because our profession has made a difference in the lives of hearing-impaired people over the years. But the increased audiology awareness (such as the importance of hearing and the effectiveness of amplification devices) to the general public is a double-edged sword. Increased awareness raises the standard of hearing care and results in more people obtaining hearing services, but it also encourages more competition from more entities. This change from the increased competition is the necessary by-product of the growth of audiology awareness accelerated by technology advances. Thus, competition will occur, and one must learn how to co-exist with the competition while excelling over them.
To exist and excel, I believe we must grow from within – that each member embraces change herself/himself and adjusts their behaviors accordingly. The Academy’s role is to facilitate such change. Like many who have shared their views (and have started embracing such changes), I agree that Audiology must be able to differentiate itself from the competition. This involves demonstrating the value of our services (and dissemination of such knowledge) and receiving appropriate reimbursement to sustain the efforts in differentiation. I would like to participate in both efforts spearheaded by the Academy.
Demonstration of values – big box retailers, PSAPs, etc. compete with audiologists on price. Audiologists, through our training, should compete easily on the quality of our services with a better selection of products and follow-up (including rehabilitative) services. These differences differentiate us from the competition. Unfortunately, such differences are often unbeknownst to the consumers. The Academy can facilitate its members to demonstrate values in their service through accreditation, best practice guidelines, sponsored research, and how-to workshops. The results of these actions must be broadly disseminated especially to legislators and insurance carriers.
Reimbursement of services – many audiologists who provide rehabilitation services have demonstrated that such services are valuable. However, many are reluctant to provide such services because they are not reimbursed. The Academy should continue its dialogue with legislative entities to update the available CPT codes, and continue to lobby rehabilitation (and other) services as reimbursable services for audiologists. Dialogue/collaboration with other professional entities could also help this effort.
What experience do you have in the planning, evaluation, and implementation of a strategic plan?
My 30 years of professional experience, and especially during the last 22 years in the industry, provided me with plenty of opportunities in the planning and implementation of strategic plans. These plans range in scale from a collaborative research study to bringing up the competence level of our customer audiologists. In all of these events, I specify what we want to achieve on the project (i.e., objectives), how we want to achieve the outcomes (i.e., content and tools specification and development), the logistics of the event (i.e., cost, place, staffing, timelines etc.), and the way we evaluate the success of the plan through various outcome measures such as the results of the studies, customer learning, and feedback, and satisfaction from training seminars.
List any experience in Financial Management. Describe your experience in developing and implementing a budget for practice, business, department, or organization?
I had financial responsibility for my division when I was the director of audiology at the University of Illinois-Chicago Eye and Ear Infirmary. I have the same responsibility again as the vice president of clinical research at my present employment where I have to forecast my expenses. Also, I was the treasurer/secretary of the AAA Foundation for the last two years, where I also reviewed the budget prepared by the AAAF staff and monitored the financial activities of the Foundation, including investment options.
Select three competencies you feel best to represent your leadership strengths.
Accountability, Communication Skills, Problem Solving
Based on the three competencies you selected that best represent your leadership strengths, comment on how these qualities would positively affect your ability to serve on the Academy board.
Of the various attributes, I believe my accountability, problem-solving and communication skills could help the Academy the most. I do not accept any tasks easily unless I feel they are important for my organization. Once I accept a task, I’ll take personal responsibility for it, and I’ll do my best to achieve the objective for the task. My problem-solving skills are based on many years of life experience, my critical thinking as a researcher, my network of friends and colleagues in and outside of this profession, and the unique requirement of my job of balancing between professionalism and commercialism. I have to think outside of the box for solutions. My communication skills are the result of many years of professional presentations and research article writing. This skill can help the Academy articulate more precisely its message, so it makes the most impact on its audience of audiologists, consumers, lawmakers, and other decision makers.