Patricia Gaffney, AuD

Patricia Gaffney, AuD

Nova Southeastern University


Patricia Gaffney, AuD, received a BA in speech and hearing science from The George Washington University, an MA in audiology from University of Pittsburgh, and her doctor of audiology degree from the University of Pittsburgh. 

She is currently a professor at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and specializes in vestibular diagnostics and treatment, amplification, and geriatrics. 

Dr. Gaffney has presented at various national and state meetings on various topics including vestibular, amplification, and professional issues. At NSU she serves as the director of the NSU UK AuD program and as the NSU SAA chapter advisor. In addition, she mentors students in the areas of amplification and vestibular research. 

Dr. Gaffney also maintains memberships in several organizations, volunteers for various committees. She also participates regularly with advocacy with an annual trip to DC with her AuD students to advocate on Capitol Hill. Previous significant volunteer experience includes JFLAC 2010 class, service on the American Academy of Audiology Board of Directors, and Program Chair of AudiologyNOW! conference in Anaheim, CA. 

She is currently the chair of the Academy Honors Committee, member of the Academy Practice Policy Advisory Committee (PPAC), a member of board of trustees for the American Academy of Audiology Foundation executive committee, and a member of the executive board for the Audiology Practice Standards Organization.

Nominee Position Statement

Why are you interested in serving on the Academy Board?

Serving for the profession is what I’ve done my entire career. I have dedicated a significant amount of my time to serving the profession and audiologists. Serving on the board is the highest level of service to the profession. The amount of time and dedication required is a significant commitment, but serving in this capacity is so rewarding.

When I previously served on the Academy Board of Directors, I knew that the work we were doing advanced the profession. We made thoughtful and deliberate decisions, that brought the profession forward. Not everyone is willing to dedicate long phone calls at night, travel to meetings, and practically take on a second job on top of their everyday job; but for me it is rewarding knowing that I’m busy improving the profession for audiologists now and for the future.

I’ve wanted to serve as president as long as I can remember in audiology. For me, the presidents have been individuals who have given the most to the profession. They have been the ones who have had to take the heat, make the tough decisions give the most amount of time...and I feel this commitment yields the greatest reward in knowing you did the most you could for your colleagues and patients. I want the opportunity to show that I’m a good leader and I can make decisions with the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors that will improve the quality of our organization and the profession as whole.

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? 

I think the key challenges that face our profession are three-fold: changing health-care landscape, reimbursement, and legislation. The health-care landscape is changing from various sides. There are changes related to service delivery models such as over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. There are so many questions as to how this will change patient care within audiology. This is most up in the air until the regulations are finalized, but there are audiologists who are good with the change and those that are scared what the future holds. Current Academy President Dr. Palmer’s speech at AAA 2019 in Columbus really highlighted this topic and provided excellent words of wisdom. In addition to this, there are pushes to incorporate more interprofessional care, thinking beyond the audiogram through reimbursement incentive programs through Medicare, and collaborative medical home models.

The Academy must help prepare audiologists to tackle these changes as they arise. Providing audiologists tools and presentations addressing this is critically important for the membership. In addition, having representatives at the table to discuss the key issues is paramount to having audiology be a part of these changes particularly in a way that is most mutually beneficial for our members and the patient.

Part of this change is also tied to reimbursement. Reimbursement generally decreases every year and this trend will most likely continue. The Practice Policy Advisory Committee (PPAC) is our seat to the discussion tables for both CPT and RUC. We must continue to support the efforts of PPAC and provide them the resources to continue to represent audiology in a favorable way. The other component to this is the Coding and Reimbursement Committee (CRC), which is tasked with disseminating this information to the membership. They have volunteer and staff support, but this needs to continue particularly with strong staff support. My goals would be to provide more infrastructure to this committee as it takes a lot of work on the staff and volunteer side to research and answer questions and disseminate information. These two committees fight for the reimbursement and inform the members how to bill appropriately.

Finally, the legislative environment is exciting and there is hope for the future. The Academ had fought for so long for direct access and ended up fighting against the other major players. But with the current legislation in Congress of a joint bill, the hopes are the highest I’ve seen. This could really be a game changer if it is approved. My goal would be to continue to support this bill, if it is not already approved by the time my term would start. If it is approved, then the goals would be to begin implementation of the changes, disseminate that information to the membership, and work with committees on getting reimbursement for those services that we were not able to previously been able to bill.

What experience do you have in the planning, evaluation, and implementation of a strategic plan?

My job at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) requires a lot of strategic planning. We do traditional strategic planning every five years (so I’ve participated twice), but we are constantly trying to strategize. When you take the keys of what a strategic plan is meant for (i.e. opportunities, weaknesses, etc.), we constantly address this. We are always thinking of what areas of the program most meet the needs of our students and how we can create opportunities to set our program apart from other programs. When it comes to a true strategic plan, I’ve worked on it through National Association of Future Doctors of Audiology (NAFDA) and the Academy Board.

As a student/recent grad, I was an executive board member for NAFDA. We revised the strategic plan and this was my first experience in learning how to structure, plan and implement a strategic plan. Most significantly was being an Academy Board member and constantly going back to our strategic plan and the preferred futures. Always having as a goal, the success of the strategic plan prioritizes activities to what is most important to the Academy. In addition to the above mentioned, I have also taken a leadership and management course at NSU that had a section on various types of strategic planning and ways of evaluating an organization for running a successful organization and business. This broadened my knowledge of strategic planning away from the tradition SWOT analysis to other methods of creating a plan.

List any experience in financial management. Describe your experience in developing and implementing a budget for a practice, business, department, or organization.

I’ve worked on budgets in various ways. I’ve occasionally worked with our program chair of our department here at Nova Southeastern University on the budgets for our two academic programs and clinic program. In addition, I’ve worked on budgeting on the Academy Board of Directors and the AAA Foundation. Both of these experiences have been analyzing the budget and investment reports.

As of October 2019, I’m also the secretary/treasurer of the AAA Foundation, so my budget experience will be much more in depth as it relates to the Foundation. I’m also a part of the financial management of the APSO organization as a board member. This organization is so much smaller, so the decisions are more directed, but it is just as important to not overspend and utilize our limited funding in the best way. Over the summer, I became the chapter advisor for our SAA chapter. Their current budget and accounting was very relaxed and they were leaving money on the table at the end of the year, which was being swept. I’ve implemented a better budgeting and financial tracking system for them to use to make sure we have a clearer accounting of the student funds.

From the list below, select five competencies you feel best represent your leadership strengths:

Accountability, Decision-Making, Leadership Skills, Organizational Knowledge, and Problem Solving

Based on the five competencies selected above, comment on how you feel these qualities would positively affect your ability to serve on the Academy Board. 

For me, accountability is accepting a role or responsibility and following through on it. I take on every role with the knowledge that I will follow through on the commitment. It is incredibly important to live up to the promise I gave. I also hope that others who take on the same roles and responsibilities can hold themselves accountable for their work. When everyone is accountable, the final product is much better than a single person’s work.

My approach to problem-solving probably has to do with my overall personality. I like to sit and think about the sides and analytically decide what approach is optimal. I enjoy the process of brainstorming various caveats to the problem, listening to group discussion and perspectives, and then thinking of the long-term outcome of the various solutions at which making the final decision is required. So, the problem-solving approach is step one, but decision-making is step two. Nothing to me is more frustrating than when a decision is not made. There are times when a decision must be tabled due to the need of further information or clarification. However, at some point a decision must be made. Final decisions are not always popular, but the tough decisions are sometimes the ones that can make the most positive impact when you evaluate all sides and the bigger picture.

In my daily life, I’m the chair of two colleges’ appeals committee at NSU when students are dismissed. The decisions we make have consequences and are not easy. I often have department chairs, students, and lawyers contacting me regarding our committee’s decisions and I know that policy and documentation must support those decisions. Another aspect of decision making is also looking long term and making current decisions and realizing the long-term impact of those decisions.

I am a leader every day. I have students who sit in front of me and it is my responsibility to show those leadership skills every day. Every leadership role, in my personal life or at work, has taught me something about being a better leader. I’ve learned about problem-solving, decision making, consequences, listening and evaluating, and speaking up; all of these are qualities that have led to improved leadership skills. I’ve been committed to the Academy since I was a student. I’ve served on Academy committees throughout my entire career. There was never a time that I wasn’t on an Academy committee. I’ve served many aspects on so many different committees. If you look at my committee involvement it has been from membership, publications, public relations, honors, convention, PPAC, the Foundation, and the board of directors. Although most of service has been through the Academy, it has been through a variety of aspects of the organization. I’ve been loyal to the organization. I’ve strived to know everything I possibly can about the history of the organization and where it is going.

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.

These are critical traits to success as Academy president. The president must pull together the ideas of many to bring the board to initiatives and decisions. Collaboration is critical internally and externally for the president. Internally the president must bring together the work of the board members, committee members, and staff to work toward a goal. Externally we all know the struggles between the various audiology organizations. We will never view situations the same as the other two organizations, but being able to collaborate effectively on specific projects and goals is critical for success for all audiologists and not just our members.

Consensus building gathers the ideas and moves toward a solution that is favorable to the majority of the stakeholders/voters. This can take time to move towards consensus, so the president must do their best to gauge the amount of agenda time needed for a consensus as well as keep the discussion on track toward a decision or action. Finally, when conflict does occur, the president must evaluate both sides of the conflict and guide the participants towards making their own resolution or if this is not feasible then to take steps in resolving the conflict from a higher level.