Melissa Heche, AuD

Melissa Heche, AuD

Practice Owner and Audiologist/Speech Pathologist, New York Speech and Hearing, Inc.

BA: Speech and Hearing Sciences; Musical Theater/Communication, Hofstra University, 1997
MA: Speech Pathology, Hofstra University, 1999
MA: Audiology, Hofstra University, 2001
AuD: Audiology, Salus University, 2005

Why are you interested in serving on the Academy board?
Involvement in the Academy – and having a role in the progression of the audiology profession – is of integral importance in my professional existence. Since training to be an audiologist, I have known that I wanted to have a greater role in the development and progression of the entire profession. Given the current state of health care and the tenuous nature of various aspects of the profession, I genuinely feel both a responsibility and a need to be at the forefront of advocacy. I believe in the future of audiology, but I think there exists a lot of work in educating, marketing and ensuring availability of services. As a team, it is necessary and possible to work towards maximizing consumer appreciation and understanding of audiology services. The goal of advocating valuation and communicating to the general masses is essential to facilitate forward progression of the audiology profession. This is a collaborative effort that begins with work within the Academy and filters down to each practicing audiologist.

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?
For years, audiology was named one of the top promising careers and has become a stronger presence in medical/educational communities. However, there are issues that impact professional expansion and development. Direct access to audiology services needs aggressive attention. This is a longstanding fight but efficient care does require direct access. I support pursuing all sociopolitical channels to maximize efforts. The general and medical community does not always recognize hearing health-care needs. Public education is important in emphasizing the need for general hearing screenings as part of the physical examination. Increasing public awareness regarding activities that provide a risk to hearing function would also be beneficial to minimize hearing loss and maximize use of hearing conservation practices. Internet sales and the role of the big box business model in hearing aid dispensing severely marginalizes the role of audiology in hearing health care and the complete services that we provide to ensure successful communication and the complete rehabilitative effect. We can achieve these ends through education, raising awareness, advocating for complete hearing health-care programs and increasing availability of services to the masses.

What experience do you have in the planning, evaluation, and implementation of a strategic plan?
Several years ago, I helped develop a strategic plan for a state-wide organization in audiology. Many of the programs were successfully implemented but were not functionally executed because of difficulties in obtaining a consistent collaborative effort. This experience taught me that, despite the most optimal planning, implementation is largely contingent upon the cooperation amongst the individual committee of planners. I am in the process of implementing a strategic plan, set forth by our parent business company, which will increase awareness and availability of hearing protection devices and services to the growing music community in major cities. Many newly trained musicians do not view hearing health care as a priority, nor do they have the resources necessary for pursuing as such. Our strategic plan will include provisions for education of music-induced hearing loss risks, the need for regular hearing health care when exposed to loud sounds, and the offering of hearing protection devices to maximize hearing health. Implementing a global hearing conservation program for musicians in training is the ultimate goal that drives our plan.

List any experience in Financial Management. Describe your experience in developing and implementing a budget for practice, business, department, or organization?
Financial management incorporates much of business. It is difficult to perform tasks without fiscal responsibility being a major component of that task. Programs can’t run successfully without a solid economic plan. In my roles as employee, supervisor(s), and business owner, I have had a part in the financial planning and management of various programs. I was hired staff speech language pathologist in a rehabilitation department that did not have speech pathology services prior to my existence there. I had to work with the rehabilitation supervisors to enable adequate use of the limited allotment of the department finances to fund the new speech program. Resources were limited, so this was a challenge because we did not want to take anything away from the existing programs while growing a viable addition to the rehabilitation department.

My experience grew when I was hired to initiate, implement, and execute a brand-new speech pathology and audiology department as a separate hospital entity. For this role, I had to develop a departmental budget to be submitted to the hospital administration for approval. Within that budget, I had to justify every expense and ensure that the net profit of my department far exceeded our expenses. This was the first experience I had that taught me the relationship between developing and implementing a financial budget and ensuring job security.

Finally, I had to develop and implement budget and execute adequate financial management within my current business. My fiscal decisions change as the business needs change overtime and I’ve learned to be fluid in its execution. My experiences have all helped to build knowledge to assist with the fiscal management given any business need.

Select three competencies you feel best represent your leadership strengths.
Accountability, Communication Skills, Leadership Skills

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.
I have developed several skills in my roles as clinician, supervisor, and subsequently as a private practitioner. Of the skills that I have developed, some have been most beneficial in facilitating my working with the rest of the board members to move the audiology profession forward.

My communication skills allow me to convey information, to ask for clarification, and to execute leadership in way that can facilitate the development and execution of programs. I have the ability to interconnect with various groups and types of people – in different hierarchies – that would allow me to implement strategic plans and ensure that work is completed and progress is measurable. In my studies of various theories on business practices I have come to believe that communication is cornerstone of business; it is only through healthy communication skills that business plans can move forward.
To that end, healthy communication skills facilitate good relationships. I have learned in my roles as a supervisor and a business owner that is the building of relationships that allows for the growth of a project. Relationships help resonate ideas, help move forward towards progress, and significantly improve outreach to others. It is through relationship building that the most successful marketing plans can be executed.

Professionally and personally, accountability is the cornerstone of progress. As a supervisor, a business owner, and a member of the community, I hold strong to the truth that being held accountable – and internalizing the responsibility of being accountable – helps growth and development. I have strong ethics about my own accountability as well as that of my colleagues and employees. Each person has a well-defined role and responsibility. This is something that should not be unclear. Once the roles and responsibilities are defined, then each person needs to be held accountable for their role in the unit as a whole. This is necessary to facilitate successful advancements and developments.

Should I be serving on the Academy board, I would utilize these qualities to work with my colleagues on the board, on various committees and in the audiology community to develop plans for the forward growth of our professional community. Together, we can all work towards progress.