Nova Southeastern SAA Travels to Capitol Hill
On Friday May 12th, five second-year AuD students and four faculty members from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) traveled to Capitol Hill. This is the third consecutive year that NSU’s Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) has been able to send a group of students to Washington, DC in order to advocate for the profession of audiology. It was the first time advocating on Capitol Hill for all but one of these students. The success of the past two trips really made a positive impact on the NSU SAA chapter, which has enabled the chapter to continue advocating for the legislative changes that are now relevant after the start of the 115th United States Congress. As a whole, the NSU SAA chapter believes that advocating for the profession is a key element towards progress in the field of audiology.
Various aspects went into the planning and organizing of this trip. Danielle Roth, NSU’s SAA Government Relations chair, has been at the forefront organizing this trip for the past two years. After the success of the previous two trips, SAA members were familiar and showed interest in planning a trip for 2017. Those SAA members interested in participating first met for a letting writing campaign. This included sending letters to different legislators regarding the current issues concerning hearing health-care. After this was done, preparation began for the trip. This included coordinating with Kate Thomas, senior director of advocacy and reimbursement, and Adam Finkel, the associate director of government relations, from the American Academy of Audiology.
The day started with breakfast and a briefing of the legislation that would be discussed over the course of the day. Meetings were organized with senators and representatives from the state and district of each of the five students attending. Chelsea Foglio, Mary Lovely, Kaitlyn Porter, Danielle Roth, and Rachel Yu are from various states including; New Jersey, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Missouri, respectively. With the small group that attended, Kate and Adam were able to coordinate meetings with staff from the offices of Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Clair McCaskill (D-MO) and representatives Charlie Dent (R-PA-15), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ-2), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23), and Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1).
Kaitlyn Porter who is from Long Island, New York stated, “This trip to Washington, DC was an incredible opportunity. In the beginning, we were all nervous about what to expect and what to say. In the end, we all loved our experience of explaining our views of audiology and the current legislation that will affect us as future audiologists and our patients hearing health-care.”
Danielle Roth who is from Allentown, Pennsylvania stated that “Being the Government Relations chair for the past two years for NSU SAA has been an extremely rewarding experience. The success of this trip, as well as the trip last year, has really given me first-hand experience and knowledge as to how important advocating for our profession is. None of this would have been possible without the help of Kate Thomas and Adam Finkel of the American Academy of Audiology who were both instrumental in the coordination of this trip.”
NSU SAA students clearly recognize the need to invest in and advocate for the profession, understanding legislation that is helpful and hurtful to audiology is a key component for success and growth of the field. This trip to Capitol Hill was the third consecutive trip and will hopefully be an annual occurrence in the future. These trips have had a very positive impact on the SAA members at NSU, including developing positive relationships with key congressional offices. Both of these trips could not have been possible without the help of the government relations staff of the Academy, as well as our faculty Dr. Andrews, Dr. Gaffney, Dr. Friedland, and Dr. Needleman who accompanied us to DC.