SAA on the Hill: What Is an Audiologist?
“So, do you know what audiology is?” It was a question that I and fellow members of the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) Board of Directors asked several times while advocating for our profession on Capitol Hill. After all, many people are typically unaware of our profession and scope of practice unless they know someone with hearing loss or develop hearing loss themselves. Audiology students learn early on in their academic careers how to explain to family and friends what it is exactly that they are studying in school, so while we were in Washington, DC, visiting with some of our Representatives and Senators on Capitol Hill, we put these skills to the test.
For many of us, including myself, this was the first time we had ever had an opportunity to advocate for audiology with individuals who directly impact the bills that our lawmakers pass. Shortly after we arrived in DC we broke up into small groups to meet with our different legislative offices. Once at the offices, we had opportunities to present information about several bills currently proposed that affect audiologists and urged them to support or not support them. Oftentimes we shared personal experiences from our classes or clinic to better illustrate our positions for particular pieces of legislation. At the end of the day, all the groups were reunited and we were able to share stories from the day with each other. We left DC completely inspired.
While not every audiology student will have an opportunity to advocate for our profession at the nation’s capital, this visit reminded all of us of the simple power that defining “what audiology is” can have.