When people think of Nashville, they probably think of country music and cowboy boots. However, this April, audiologists from all over the world will meet in Music City for AAA 2018 to reconnect with old colleagues, get caught up with industry updates, attend educational sessions—and, yes, have some fun exploring this fun and historical city. 

AAA 2018 offers many diverse options to expand your professional horizons, and one of the biggest opportunities this year will be immersing yourself in the world of audiology advocacy. Throughout the conference, there will be numerous advocacy-related events, covering everything from the basics to in-depth sessions on state issues and Medicare. Whether you want to dive into the details of legislation or network with colleagues while supporting the Academy’s political action committee (PAC), there are advocacy events for everyone at AAA 2018.

For an interactive, comprehensive, advocacy learning experience, start your conference off with the new Advocacy Workshop, to be held April 18, from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. It is a great opportunity for both seasoned advocates and beginners who want to learn the basics of how government works and what the Academy’s priorities are in the advocacy world. 

The Academy is engaged on numerous impactful issues and helps members advocate for their profession, from state and local issues, to hosting visits to Capitol Hill. Attend the workshop to learn all about the Academy’s advocacy efforts and the current issues, including how you can get involved through the Academy’s Grassroots Advocacy Network.

Not only will the Advocacy Workshop lay out current legislative and regulatory issues impacting the profession, but it will teach attendees to talk about how these issues affect them and why they are important to audiologists. Discuss strategies for audiology advocacy and advancing audiology policy initiatives and find the issues you are passionate about. There will be opportunities to interact and network with other grassroots advocates and fellow audiologists who have participated in advocacy events in the past. This workshop aims to teach you how to effectively communicate with your elected representatives, and give you the tools and resources you need to get involved on any level. 

Also on Wednesday, April 18, a Featured Session from the Coding and Reimbursement Committee, titled “Landlords, Equipment, Payers… Oh My! Top 10 Tips for Navigating Contracts in Health Care” is being offered. Sit in on the session from 2:15–4:15 pm to learn how to better manage your practice’s contracts from Radha V. Bachman, a top-rated health-care attorney.

On Thursday evening, get away from the convention center and show your support for the Academy’s PAC by heading into downtown Nashville for the Pedal for the PAC event. The PAC is an essential part of the Academy’s advocacy operation, allowing the Academy to make campaign contributions to key legislators, candidates, and committees that support audiologists and hearing health-care initiatives. Making these contributions helps to ensure support for the Academy’s federal policies and gains access to exclusive events and briefings for Academy representatives, who use these opportunities to advocate face-to-face on issues affecting audiologists and their patients. Registering for Pedal for the PAC is a great way to support the PAC, while also enjoying a uniquely Nashville experience.

Pedal for the PAC participants will hop on board a “Pedal Tavern” for a tour of historic spots, local bars, and, of course, plenty of live music. Attendees will see places where country music legends began their careers and learn interesting Nashville facts from their tour guide while spending a fun evening with other AAA 2018 attendees. Pedal for the PAC will take place from 7:00–9:00 pm on Thursday, April 19. There is limited space for this event, so make sure you sign up early to guarantee your spot!

Illustrated starsOn Friday, April 20, pay a visit to the third annual State Fair, which will be held in the exhibit hall from 12:30–2:30 pm. The State Fair has grown every year since it began in 2016, becoming an unparalleled opportunity to learn what state audiology organizations are doing all across the country. This is a chance to get involved with your local audiology organization, learn about the benefits of state membership, and connect with other individuals from your state and other states.

In addition to these events, there will be several learning modules for conference attendees interested in advocacy, policy, or coding and reimbursement. The State Relations Committee’s “Current State Issues: Identifying and Understanding Licensing, Legislative, and Regulatory Trend” will feature a panel of state leaders discussing current state issues—a great module for anyone curious about the legislative and regulatory issues affecting them close to home. This learning module will take place on Friday, April 20, 3:00–4:00 pm. 

Also on Friday, the Coding and Reimbursement Committee will be hosting two learning modules, “Medicare Basics” from 8:45–9:45 am and “All Things ABN: Medicare's Advance Notice of Noncoverage for Audiologists” from 7:30–8:30 am. Keep an eye out for these modules as the complete conference schedule is revealed and make sure you take these learner-focused, interactive courses designed to provide practical knowledge to practicing audiologists.

For anyone who cannot attend AAA 2018 but wants to get involved, we encourage you to visit the “Advocacy” tab on the Academy’s website, where you can catch up on the latest government relations or coding and reimbursement news, read up on the PAC, and visit our Legislative Action Center for up-to-date legislative priorities and engagement opportunities, like sending letters to your congressional representatives. Additionally, any Academy member is always welcome to join our Grassroots Advocacy Network to receive frequent advocacy updates and learn about local opportunities. 

The Academy’s advocacy department is busy advocating on issues with Congress and regulatory agencies, and AAA 2018 is the perfect opportunity to learn about all the facets of audiology advocacy and find opportunities to get involved. Whether you’ve already been to Capitol Hill or are newly interested in the world of advocacy, these events and sessions will help you grow as an advocate and leave Nashville with the tools and connections you need to confidently engage in advocacy throughout the year. We hope that you make advocacy part of your AAA 2018 experience!