Ursula Findlen, PhD

Ursula Findlen, PhD

Director of Audiology Research and Assistant Professor, Clinical
Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Biography

Ursula M. Findlen, PhD, is the director of audiology research in the Division of Clinical Therapies--Audiology Department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor-Clinical at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Department of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery. She also has a courtesy appointment at The Ohio State University Department of Speech and Hearing Science and serves as a capstone committee member for AuD students focusing on pediatric audiology. 

Dr. Findlen engages in clinical practice and research endeavors related to pediatric (re)habilitative audiology, particularly in regards to a multidisciplinary team approach to family-centered care. Her research interests include infant diagnostics and improving outcomes of children with hearing loss through systematic quality improvement and population health endeavors.

She is currently the chair of the Academy's Health-Care Relations Committee and the president of the Ohio Academy of Audiology. Additionally, she is a co-investigator on an NIH Grant focused on literacy in children with hearing loss and principle investigator on a grant funded by Advanced Bionics, Inc.

Dr. Findlen received a BS in communication sciences and disorders from Syracuse University, an MA in speech and hearing science from The Ohio State University, and a PhD in speech and hearing science from The Ohio State University.

Nominee Position Statement

Why are you interested in serving on the Academy Board?

After 15 years in the profession, I have come to a place where I want to give back to my field in meaningful ways outside of the realm of clinical practice and research. A call to service is not one I have taken lightly. With the ever-evolving landscape for our profession on both the state and national level, I have actively sought out ways to impact forward movement for audiology through service. At the state level, I have volunteered through my state Academy, first as sponsorship chair and now as president-elect. Much of the work that needs to be done is at the state level, but national initiatives are necessary as well. Through my work as the chair of the Academy's Health-Care Relations Committee, I have been able to meaningfully contribute to several processes aimed at increasing visibility of audiology as the home of hearing and balance care to referring providers. I believe becoming a contributing member of the Academy’s Board of Directors is the next logical step in my personal goal of engaging in service to our profession.

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? 

Current and future challenges we face have remained essentially unchanged since I first entered the profession in 2003: autonomy/direct access, engagement in evidence-based practice, reimbursement, etc. The biggest challenge for our field is really in finding novel ways to address these issues in an ever-changing political climate. Many of our current challenges are not unique to audiology; other medically-based therapeutic fields struggle with the same challenges. It was not that long ago that physical therapists had mandated referrals for assessment and treatment, but PTs currently have unrestricted patient access or patient access with minimal (and often common-sense) provisions in upwards of 47 states. We need to look PT as a potential model as we formulate novel approaches to obtaining direct access to patients. 

Another area of the field that will continue to be a challenge to us is engagement in evidence-based practice by audiologists. Multiple studies have found that many audiologists are not routinely using best practice protocols for patient diagnostic care and treatment. Our field is rich with an evidence-base for many of the procedures we complete in hearing and balance care. As long as providers disregard these best practices we will continue to have difficulty separating ourselves in level of expertise from other hearing and balance healthcare providers. Universal engagement in evidence-based practices will not only elevate the field to the place of being the highest authority for hearing and balance care, but will also aid in our plight for better reimbursement for services. This will become increasingly important as over-the-counter devices become available and insurance benefits for hearing aids (hopefully) become a reality through current legislation to expand Medicare coverage.

What I hope to accomplish during my term on the board is to make headway in solving our challenges through using models from other professional fields to formulate quality, novel approaches. If we continue to use the same approaches, we will get the same results.

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

As a part of the Ohio Academy of Audiology, I have helped with formulation and implementation of a strategic plan for our state organization. Over the past several years, we have changed the focus of our state organization as the field has evolved and as political issues have changed. Our state Academy has been able to execute numerous initiatives within our strategic plan that directly benefit members, including revamping how information is shared with members to keep them informed of state issues, engaging the board in discussing new and additional opportunities for continued education within our state, and formulating a sustainable outreach program to referring providers in Ohio. 

Additionally, as a member of the Hearing Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, I have been involved with implementing a strategic plan for our program and executed multiple quality improvement studies related to the goals of our strategic plan. Through these quality improvement initiatives, we have successfully decreased the age at identification and intervention of congenital hearing loss in the children we serve. Our results have been shared with fellow audiologists on the state and national levels and have influenced other facilities serving children to implement similar strategies.

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

My position as director of audiology research has provided me the opportunity to hone my financial management skills. I am directly involved with budgeting for research projects that are both internally and externally funded through major grant initiatives. Once grants have been awarded, I am also directly involved with ongoing monitoring of budget items and ensuring that all regulatory needs are met. 

Additionally, as a board member for my state Academy I have been involved with state conference budgeting and have made financial decisions about the use of Academy funds in general. I am known to be rather fiscally conservative while supporting initiatives that have the capability of making significant contributions to our field or supporting our members in meaningful ways.

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

Problem solving, Relationship Building, Teamwork

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. 

All three of these qualities--problem solving, relationship building, and team work--are necessary to be effective on an Academy board where people come from different settings, with different experience levels and perspectives. In order to make forward progress on issues that impact our field significantly, these three qualities have to be employed. My approach to leadership has always involved recognizing the strength of the team. It is only through a strong team mentality in which members feel supported and valued that forward progress can be made.

Therefore, one of the first things I typically engage in at the onset of a new project or leadership commitment is relationship building within the team framework. I use active listening and critical thinking skills to engage team members in conversations about current issues, and through information sharing and consensus building facilitate problem solving among team members. It is my hope that these qualities will continue to serve me well in this new leadership endeavor and will allow me to be a contributing member to the Academy’s Board.