Kaitlyn M. Kennedy, AuD
2019 Nominee Member-at-Large
Pediatric Audiologist, Cook Children's Medical Center
BS: Communication Sciences and Disorders with a focus in Audiology, Missouri State University, 2012
AuD: Missouri State University, 2016
Why are you interested in serving on the Academy board?
Serving on the Academy board is a large undertaking for any professional. Despite the commitment, serving as a new professional would allow me to contribute to audiology’s future and its position at the end of my career. Large changes in our field take decades, and I want to be part of determining the changes that will affect my entire career.
As a new professional, I have a unique point of view on current issues, not yet being tainted by history. It allows me to look at ongoing problems with fresh eyes and see solutions overlooked due to years of division. Experienced professionals could easily overlook my opinions and goals. Conversely, I may not understand their expectations or perspectives. However, as a young leader in the field, it falls on me to represent the voice of young professionals in audiology. In the history of audiology, the people who made substantial changes were not typically those ready to retire; change has often occurred by professionals in their 20s and 30s, starting out with ideas, dreams, ambitions, and plans on how to leave audiology better than they found it.
What challenges or key issues do you see for the audiology profession in the next five years? What would you hope to accomplish relative to these challenges during your term on the board?
Many challenges will face our field in the next five years. Some are known, like OTCs and a shortage of providers. Others remain relatively unknown, like future legislative encroachment on scope of practice. However, I believe our largest issues in the next five years can be divided into two areas—internal conflicts and external viewpoints. Internally, audiology continues to be a field divided. Providers practice in varied settings from one provider private practices to large heath systems, VA hospitals to schools. All of the areas of practice have unique challenges from coding and billing to following IDEA guidelines. Due to these differences, many audiology organizations have been created. Having three major organizations and other minor associations has spread the ideas, resources, and voice of audiology thin. Each individual organization is harmed by not having the full force of the field backing it. Projects are completed at least three times so each group can put their own spin on the idea. This confuses our peers and outside observers about where the ultimate voice of the profession lies. Many of our problems will remain not addressable until the resolution of this issue.
Externally, stake holders are confused. Legislators do not know where to look for information. They receive conflicting statements from all major organizations, delaying legislative help for our patients. Our patients remain confused about what we do because they do not see the difference between an audiologist and a dispenser. To that extent, even some physicians do not understand an audiologist’s scope of practice.
This all boils down to audiology being divided and not having enough outreach to our external stakeholders. Presently, we are seeing people outside of healthcare step into our space and change how we practice, causing considerable fear within our field. Both problems sound simple to fix on paper—one voice for the profession to all internal and external stakeholders. Reality is more complicated.
During my term, I would like to help facilitate more joint efforts between our professional organizations with the ultimate goal—likely more than five years away—of having one, single, combined home for audiology. Some cooperation occurs regularly, but facilitating more partnerships between organizations would establish peer relationships which currently do not exist. Collaboration will aid outside stakeholders in gaining appropriate information for their needs. Collaboration will make for a strong field in five years or 50 years.
Collaboration is essential to the future of audiology and is what I would hope to accomplish as a board member.
What experience do you have in the planning, evaluation, and implementation of a strategic plan?
Through various experiences within and outside of the Academy, I have had the opportunity to participate in all parts of strategic planning. With the New Professionals Committee, I have worked towards implementing portions of the Academy’s current strategic plan. Specifically, we are currently working on ways to help new professionals with the transition from student to professional. Additionally, I participated in all levels of strategic planning through the SAA at a point when much of the membership was disengaged and looking other places for information. We evaluated what SAA had done successfully and unsuccessfully in the past. In the following months, we discussed ways to change and improve the organization. Near the end of my term, a new structure was developed to better meet SAAs goals, providing the basis of how SAA functions today. This afforded me a great opportunity to learn the strategic planning process and see the implementation afterwards.
List any experience in Financial Management. Describe your experience in developing and implementing a budget for a practice, business, department, or organization.
Multiple groups including the SAA board, Academy board, steering committees, and my first job provided me with exposure to various budgets at different stages of planning and implementation. However, my first job offered the most experience. In that position, I was the sole audiologist starting an audiology clinic within an established ENT practice. The ENT and I worked very closely together to develop the budget, usual and customary fees, hearing aid contracts, and profit-loss statements. We reviewed them quarterly and were tracking to be debt free within 24 months. Based on our discussions, I would adjust pricing and spending. It also taught me the importance of having everything in writing to avoid unexpected charges and changes in the future. While this occurred on a very small scale, it taught me important skills in regards to budgeting for a practice.
From the list below, select three competencies you feel best represent your leadership strengths.
Commitment, Leadership skills, Problem Solving
Based on the three competencies selected above, comment on how you feel these qualities would positively affect your ability to serve on the Academy board.
It takes many different personalities and experiences to create the Academy board, all of which are necessary for the board to fulfill its duties. The following are the three traits which best represent my leadership strengths:
Commitment—In many of the activities which took a large portion of my time, commitment was necessary. Growing up, I danced and played the flute competitively. Both arts required extreme dedication to succeed. They taught the perseverance necessary to pick myself up from failure, learn from it, and move forward. This commitment to my passions translates directly to audiology. Since starting graduate school, audiology has encompassed my life. My passion for and commitment to the field as a whole will help me serve on the board and ensure board responsibilities take priority. I could dedicate the time necessary for tasks and meetings. Commitment is an essential trait when considering a responsibility like serving on the board.
Leadership Skills—In any kind of leadership position, specific skills are necessary. Personally, I possess two leadership skills which are imperative. One is listening. I have always enjoyed listening to problems and helping find solutions. In large group discussions, I enjoy listening to what everyone says and playing “devil’s advocate” to provide a contrasting point of view. The second skill I have is empathy. In group leadership, decisions often go against personal opinion. Empathy allows me to see things from the opposing view and understand those beliefs even if I disagree. These two leadership skills are essential in today’s audiology environment to accommodate the many views.
Problem Solving—Logic puzzles entertain me during free time. They force me to think outside the box and see connections between unrelated occurrences. These puzzles have taught me to view problems from abstract, slightly illogical angles, and find similarities when none seem obvious. This allows me to see commonalities between opposing views and find places for compromise.
While these three traits are ones I had to choose from the list, perhaps the most significant one is unlisted—my outlook on the profession. I believe this occupation is often a vocation. As a new professional, my perspective remains extremely positive and I see the field for what I want it to become. I work every day in my personal practice for the profession I want, not the one I have. In this time of change and turmoil, perhaps the unconventional perspective of a new professional would help overcome the instability facing us all.