As we are in the midst of the best Academy annual meeting ever, I am reminded how much member involvement occurs throughout the year but especially during our yearly conference. Involvement occurs on many different levels. I have heard Louisiana audiologist Steve Madix as he describes levels of professional involvement to audiology students on several occasions. Dr. Madix describes three levels of involvement: observer, participant, and protector.

He describes the observers as members of an organization who observe but they do not perform a lot of action at this level of involvement. These individuals are most likely the largest portion of membership in most large organizations similar to our Academy. I like to think of these individuals as our 9-to-5 participants. They show up on time to work and promptly leave at quitting time. They are typically dependable and do their job fully.

The second level of involvement is the participant. These are our members who volunteer. They are above the average level of the observer and are more involved in an organization. These are our members who volunteer to be on a task force and/or serve on various committees within the Academy. I believe these individuals are the heart and soul of the Academy. They are dependable, knowledgeable, full of energy, and have lots of fresh ideas.

The last level of involvement is the protector. These are our members who serve as committee chairs and serve on our boards. These members are engaged at the highest levels volunteering the most amount of their time and protecting our organization. You’ll know these members by the way some of them, myself included, cannot answer the question “what do you do for fun” without using the word audiology.

It is important to understand that in any organization all levels of involvement are necessary and important. We need observers as much as we need protectors.

Everyone has a role and a job to fulfill. Sometimes those roles change. Many times, changes in our profession stir our passions, which lead us toward more involvement. Change can be uncomfortable for some, but let those changes be the fuel to get you where you need to be in our profession. When a change occurs, find where you can help make the change easier for your profession and your colleagues.

My hope for all of you is that you realize your level of involvement. If you’re not sure what level you want to achieve, ask some protectors. There are lots of us here willing to help you find your best level of involvement.