Kaitlyn M. Kennedy, AuD

Kaitlyn M. Kennedy, AuD

Pediatric Audiologist
Cook Children's Medical Center

Biography

Kaitlyn M. Kennedy, AuD, is a clinical audiologist at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Kennedy is currently the chair of the New Professionals Committee and a member of the Leadership Council. Her clinical interests include pediatric diagnostics, amplification, and cochlear implants. She received her BS in Communication Sciences and Disorders – Audiology from Missouri State University and AuD from Missouri State University.

Nominee Position Statement

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 on the board now 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 colored by history. It allows me to look at ongoing problems with a fresh perspective and see solutions potentially overlooked due to years of division. 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 typically were not ready to retire; change has often started with 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 over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids and a shortage of providers. Others remain relatively unknown, like future legislative encroachment on scope of practice or Medicare coverage of services. 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 as 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 which opinion is correct and where the ultimate voice of the profession lies. Many of our problems will remain unaddressable until this issue is resolved. 

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 and confusion outside of it. Both problems sound simple to fix on paper – one voice for the profession to all internal and external stakeholders. In reality, it is more complicated. 

During my term, I would like to help facilitate more collaboration between our professional organizations with the ultimate goal – likely more than five years away – of having a single home for audiology. Some collaboration occurs regularly, but facilitating more collaboration 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 fifty years. Continued 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 better relate to the Academy. 

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 the SAA had done successfully and unsuccessfully in the past. We then discussed ways to change and improve the organization. Near the end of my term, we decided a new structure would help better meet SAAs goals. Certain aspects of the structure were determined and provided the basis of how SAA functions today. This afforded 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 about 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 that best represent my leadership strengths. 

Commitment – In many of the activities which took a large portion of my time in the past, long-term commitments were necessary. Growing up, I danced and played the flute. 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 into 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 those responsibilities take priority. I would be able to dedicate the time necessary for tasks and create solutions to problems addressed in 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 possess is empathy. In group leadership, decisions can 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 competing 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 the similarities. This skill promotes teamwork and compromise; it allows me to see similarities between opposing views and find places for agreement. 

While these three traits are ones I had to choose from a 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. In this time of change and turmoil, perhaps the perspective of a new professional would help overcome the instability facing us all.