The fourth annual Clinical Education Forum was held the morning of Saturday, March 30, 2019, at the Academy’s Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio. As has been the tradition, the Clinical Education Forum was co-sponsored by the Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE) and the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CAPCSD). 

Following brief introductions by ACAE Board Chair James W. Hall III and CAPCSD Board President Lisa Lucks Mendel, the morning proceedings began with varied presentations on the theme of best practices in audiology education delivered by an international collection of audiologists. 

Louise Hickson of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, drawing on information from her textbook (Wong and Hickson, 2012), provided a thorough explanation of four steps in applying evidence-based practice (EBP), specifically, (1) asking a question, (2) accessing information, (3) applying the information, and (4) auditing the process. 

Subsequent topics and presenters were diagnostic audiology (James W. Hall III, Salus University), audiological rehabilitation (Shelia Moodie, Western University, London Ontario), vestibular assessment and rehabilitation (Richard Roberts, Vanderbilt University), and audiology education from the student perspective (Riley DeBacker, the Ohio State University). Dr. Hickson offered an international perspective on best practices in the final presentation. 

The second portion of the morning was divided between group discussions and a moderated panel discussion based on ideas generated in individual groups of attendees and the podium presentations. The ambitious objective of the panel was to develop an action plan for infusing evidence-based practice in AuD education. We’ll devote the remainder of this article to summarizing the ideas generated by the groups and the panel discussion. 

Make EBP More Approachable

Participants discussed ways to make evidence-based practice more approachable by strengthening the triad of research evidence, clinician expertise, and client preferences and goals. By putting things in a clinical context, students will learn how to make their EBP questions more clinically focused and make the connection about the relevance of research to what they do in the clinic. In addition, suggestions for formal strategies for developing student appreciation and understanding of EBP included journal clubs, clinical grand rounds, formal protocols for clinical assessment and intervention in different patient populations. Introducing these options early in the program should help students continue to make the connection with EBP from the beginning of the program all the way through comprehensive exams.

Consider Adult-Learning Strategies

Adult-learning strategies were discussed as a way to create a safe environment for learning. There are inconsistencies among university programs regarding ways that students’ knowledge and skills are assessed and how students can express their concerns. Participants suggested infusing adult learning into educational programs to help student adult learners grow as clinicians. This can be done by using case studies as a key component of AuD education, including case study examples on formal examinations.

Enhance the Connection Between EBP and Clinical Education

Participants expressed concern about the disconnect between classroom education related to evidence-based practice and student implementation of EBP with actual patients in internal and, particularly, external clinical sites under the direction of non-university preceptors. Academic and clinical faculty need to increase communication with external preceptors to ensure they understand the importance of keeping EBP infused throughout the students’ AuD education.

The Next Step

A summary of the practical strategies for enhancing EBP in clinical education proposed in the 2019 Clinical Education Forum will soon be distributed to directors of all doctor of audiology programs in the United States. Within the next few months, a task force of representatives from ACAE and CAPCSD will select a theme for the fifth annual Clinical Education Forum to be held on Saturday, April 4, at the AAA 2020 Annual Conference and HearTECH Expo in New Orleans. We welcome suggestions and participation from any audiologists interested and involved in the clinical education of AuD students.