Lisa Christensen, AuD
Board Certified in Audiology
Audiology Program Manager, Cook Children’s Medical Center
BS: Speech Pathology, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 1997
MA: Audiology, Louisiana Tech University, 2001
AuD: Audiology, Salus University, 2006
Why are you interested in serving on the Academy board?
During the past two plus years on the Academy board as a member-at-large, I have learned more about the Academy and our profession than I could have imagined possible. There is a clear direction to lead us into the future. It will not always be an easy path. It will most likely be met with opposition but the direction and path we need to take, I believe, is clearer than ever.
The changes I have witnessed over the past two years have been exciting and full of promise. The new opportunities for vendor support of the Academy, audiology assistants’ membership, and a focus on uniting the larger audiology population have been the highlights for me. While the direction and path are clearer now with new endeavors and a new vision for the Academy and profession of audiology, now begins the work and perseverance to ensure these concepts become reality. It is clear that action is needed to fuel the current momentum. It is the action and work that excite me as a leader. I love a challenge and I enjoy hard work especially with the payoff as important as promoting audiology and this Academy. I want to continue my service to the Academy now more than ever as we start the action portion of moving audiology and the Academy into the future.
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?
The biggest challenge I see for audiology currently is our fragmented global presence. Unfortunately, we are fragmented into with many associations and internally within our own organization. We cannot address important issues, especially legislative issues, with so many different associations. It is confusing and the message is lost in the confusion. I know that the American Academy of Audiology is the association for audiology. In the next five years, we need to make sure the Academy’s voice is the most prominent. One way to strengthen the Academy’s voice is to collaborate with smaller associations. For the past six months, I have worked with the Association of Veterans Affairs Audiologists (AVAA) to form a more collaborative role between AVAA and the Academy. This has led to having a permanent AVAA Board member on the Academy’s Government Relations Committee (GRC) and by having an Academy Board member present on AVAA Board calls. This will give our two associations a two-way funnel of information and the collaboration needed to help advance audiology. If given the opportunity to continue to serve the Academy, I will continue to find other associations to build partnerships.
The second fragmented presence is the internal struggles we face within the Academy between partners, committees, vendors, and membership. We seem to fight with ourselves daily. At the end of the day, we are all here for the same reason. We are here to serve people with hearing and balance disorders. As leaders, it is time for us to all step up and put an end to this constant negativity. I promise to promote the positivity that this Academy is experiencing and spread that positivity far and wide.
Another struggle we face is misinformation and a poor communication system. Audiology is still stuck in the licensure versus certification saga. Too many audiologists hold their CCC-A out of fear and lack of knowledge. A real movement needs to happen to educate audiologists once and for all about licensure, certification, credentialing, and university/student obligations. This issue has been ongoing for way too long and unfortunately it seems like way too many audiologists are still not properly informed about these topics.
The landscape of audiology is changing. Most audiologists fear these changes especially those involving new technology and new procedures. I feel that most of this fear could be controlled with communication and better education regarding these very important changes to audiology. I hope to accomplish this movement for acceptance of changes in audiology by finding ways to get this information communicated effectively. We live in a world where we look for communication that is fun, quick, and easy to digest. This is why YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are so successful in spreading information. I would like to see a similar way to address audiology information. Weekly web-based live feeds from Facebook, one-minute information videos on YouTube, or presidential/committee chair Twitter takeovers, as some ideas on better communication.
What experience do you have in the planning, evaluation, and implementation of a strategic plan?
During the nine years I worked at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, I served on a system wide process improvement initiative taskforce. Through this multi-year project, formulated a strategic plan and worked on process improvement plan. This initiative spread across every aspect of the hospital wide system from streamlined registration times, wait times, and to the end product of excellence in patient satisfaction through hospital wide satisfaction surveys.
Two years ago, I began work at Cook Children’s Medical Center. The audiology program manager position had been vacant for nearly two years when I accepted the position. I spent the first six months observing current clinical and administrative processes. At the end of that time, I went to my director, and then my audiology staff, with a strategic plan. Implementing change often brings fear and anxiety in all parties but for the first time our audiology program has clear goals and a way to track our accomplishments.
Most recently I participated in the Academy’s strategic planning meeting. While each strategic planning initiative I’ve been involved with thus far has been different, I have learned many ways to find a way to improve planning. From brainstorming the bigger issues to ending with a real plan for change, these processes have been exciting in all cases. As we begin to implement changes within through actions within the Academy Enterprise, I am yet again hopeful of the future of audiology not just the Academy.
List any experience in Financial Management. Describe your experience in developing and implementing a budget for practice, business, department, or organization?
After attending JFLAC 2008, my goal was to start a state academy for Arkansas. I had previously owned two small Internet based businesses, in which I managed all financial aspects from conception to daily business and financial operations. However, I knew this would be different from those endeavors. Through this I learned how to navigate and manage a non-profit state association. Beginning the financial management of a small state association was challenging from determining membership fees, hosting a conference the first year that actually made a profit, and finding ways to maintain our first year successes.
Currently at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, I manage a multi-million-dollar budget each year for the audiology program. I meet yearly with our finance department to determine the operating budget for the year and carry out all operational budget items daily for the audiology program. Our program is housed across five busy locations in the greater Fort Worth area. Our program is currently one of the only in North Texas dispensing hearing aids through Texas Medicaid due fairly recent changes regarding reimbursement. Referrals are high, profits are low, and through some tightening of our finances, we are able to continue to serve these children and their families.
Currently as a member of the Academy Board of Directors, I understand the Academy’s financial management and the financial goals. This information has evolved greatly over the past two years. It is now time to move things forward with planning for the future of audiology.
Select five competencies you feel best represent your leadership strengths.
Accountability, Communication Skills, Leadership Skills, Relationship Building, Teamwork
Based on the five 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.
Since attending JFLAC in 2008 and being involved in every JFLAC class since that time, I have spent a large amount of time learning about leadership. But most importantly, JFLAC has shown me the need for a specific path to leadership within the Academy. We need to consistently and effectively engage audiologists of all experience levels to step into leadership positions. Most audiologists do not think of themselves as leaders and only view the Academy board as leadership. The shift needs to be made to acknowledge all areas of leadership within the academy; from committee members to committee chairs to the board. All of these audiologists all have thoughts, ideas, and potential solutions for audiology but they many times do not express those as they think someone else will do it for them. They need to be given the information and the tools to lead with confidence at any position of leadership.
Relationship building is a very important aspect that needs immediate attention both within the Academy and throughout audiology. It is the relationship that people have with the Academy that will build loyalty within our membership and partnerships. Loyalty expert, James Kane, believes that the brain seeks three things: trust, belonging, and purpose. We need to establish belonging and purpose for each of our members and sponsors to show there is more than just the exchange of money. This will build membership and sponsorship now and in the future.
Audiology is evolving and we need teamwork now more than ever. I want to continue to have these conversations with other associations just like AVAA. Now is the time to build our team by engaging more associations underneath the Academy. We are all here for the same purpose and we need to remember we are all on the same team.
Since high school, politics have been an interest for me. This past year, I served as a Texas Delegate for my district and I have made several Hill visits in the past few years. Communication is the key in these situations. My political experiences have taught me to listen closely, make calculated responses, and know the legislative information well. Most of our elected officials still have no idea what audiology means and we need to communicate effectively to make sure they know what audiology means and that it is done with one voice from one association.
Over the past year, I’ve worked on new accountability measure for Cook Children’s as part of our strategic plan. Many times, it’s the way the accountability is explained and how you deliver information that makes it the most effective. In the past, the audiologists at Cook felt it was just a means for discipline. We have changed that to a measure to help us all grow and learn. This is true for audiology and the Academy also. We all need accountability but there’s a way we can do it to promote positivity and growth.
Collaboration, consensus building, and conflict resolution are three qualities associated with effective leadership. Reflect upon these characteristics and provide your perspective on how each of these traits would be of importance to you as the Academy president.
This past year I enrolled in an online class, “Connected Coaching.” This class taught all of these skills in a coaching method designed with a teamwork approach. Collaboration is much more than networking. It is taking discussions with others in our field and making plans together. Too often I see collaboration meetings occur with little to no action after the meetings. I feel that it is important as the Academy president to not just collaborate, but to leave these collaborations with clear actions.
Consensus building was a concept discussed greatly during “Connected Coaching.” Because the class has a team approach, I learned ways to guide my team to decisions so they feel included and heard. I believe this is something that would be a great asset to a position as the Academy president. We must find a way to make all audiologists feel included and heard. This will lead them to feel like a valued team member and will build their loyalty to the Academy.
The best way I have found to handle conflict is to always research first. I have been in very few conflicts where the facts could not be uncovered within a reasonable amount of time. When you can take the emotion away, it can level out the conflict. Then a resolution can be made by asking some questions to lead the conversation. Most people move away from conflict faster if they feel they were heard and that their suggestions were used in some way.