On March 27–30, 2019, audiologists, audiology students, hearing health-care professionals, and industry representatives from across the country and around the world gathered in Columbus, Ohio, for AAA 2019, the Academy’s annual conference. Attendees had opportunities to learn from their audiology colleagues as well as experts in business, psychology, and science. They visited an exhibit hall where they could evaluate the newest technologies designed to assist them in their practice, and in the city labeled “one of the most exciting culinary scenes in the United States,” they had opportunities to reconnect and dine with colleagues and friends.

Wednesday

AAA19 logo

This year’s conference opened with a conference favorite and an exciting new offering. The 11th annual Academy Research Conference (ARC), chaired by Todd Ricketts, PhD, focused on Advances in Amplification. With hearing aids being the basis of management for patients with hearing impairment across the lifespan, Dr. Ricketts assembled a distinguished group of researchers to share their knowledge on topics including disruptive technologies, public policy regarding hearing loss and amplification, artificial intelligence in hearing instruments, and novel treatments for hyperacusis. The ARC lunch was sponsored in part by Phonak.

The inaugural Audiology Career Enhancement (ACE) Symposium: Interpersonal Communication Skills to Catapult Your Career, chaired by Sarah Sydlowski, AuD, PhD, was designed to help YOU, the professional. Participants heard from communications and business experts, and had hands-on opportunities to enhance the critical skills necessary to differentiate themselves. Symposium attendees now have the knowledge and skills necessary to create a competitive edge, allowing them to push the boundaries of their capabilities as a provider, colleague, and leader. They also had a ton of fun learning improv skills to help connect and establish the executive presence needed in today’s professional world. Thank you to ACE sponsors Audigy and Phonak for their generous support of this inaugural event.

Five Learning Labs were offered on Wednesday morning that featured hands-on training for cerumen management, hearing aid verification, mindfulness-based tinnitus stress reduction, programming of cochlear implants, and vestibular head-impulse testing. Participants left these Learning Labs with the ability to immediately implement new skills when they returned to their practices on Monday morning. 

ARC 2019 ImageThe First-Time Attendee Orientation session provided information and tips to help the novice attendees get the most out of their conference experience. In addition to ARC, ACE, and Learning Labs, Cochlear sponsored a symposium, “The Future of Hearing Health Care: Is Your Practice Ready?” If this wasn’t enough to keep attendees busy, there were also 15 unique and exciting Learning Modules, a Featured Session—Pediatric Grand Rounds, and student sessions offered Wednesday afternoon.

After the completion of the afternoon sessions, Celebrate Audiology (sponsored in part by Hamilton CapTel) kicked off the evening’s social and networking events. Attendees enjoyed the “tailgate”-themed event with great food (the macaroni and cheese was outstanding!), drinks, entertainment (thanks Dave Lisko, AuD, for entertaining in the Attendee Lounge), all while learning more at the exhibitor booths and reconnecting with colleagues and friends. Several university programs hosted open houses in the exhibit hall for their students, alumni, faculty, and staff. 

As “Celebrate” wound down, AAA Foundation (AAAF) supporters made their way to the Hilton for the annual AAA Foundation Happy Hour Benefit (philanthropic support provided in part by Phonak). This was the second year the AAAF held its Handbag Auction. The winners of the gently used “high-end” bags were thrilled with their “new” purses! All funds raised help advance the Foundation’s mission to support research, education, and public awareness in audiology and hearing and balance sciences. Student attendees also had an opportunity to “Mix and Mingle” at the Student Academy of Audiology event (sponsored in part by Starkey Hearing Technologies). This event provided students an opportunity to meet and network with students from across the country. 

Thursday

Thursday’s activities got started early as Academy President Lisa Christensen, AuD, and I welcomed attendees to the conference and the annual General Assembly. The Ohio State Air Force ROTC Honor Guard presented colors as the Audiology Chorus sang the national anthem. President-Elect Catherine Palmer, PhD, also made remarks and announced the recipients of the Academy Honors  and Awards. 

Thursday Session ImageThe General Assembly (sponsored in part by Amplifon) concluded with an outstanding keynote address by motivator, leader, and best-selling author James Kane. His address combined the latest research in neurology, anthropology, behavioral psychology, and human evolution to help attendees understand how and why loyalty exists and what we need to do to achieve it. This was a thought-provoking presentation that helped attendees rethink how we build relationships in our practices and lives. 

Learning Modules, Mini-Modules, Research Podiums, Exhibitor Courses, Novel Technologies, and Industry Courses began immediately following the General Assembly, and continued throughout the afternoon. ImprovEdge, an award-winning training company that integrates improvisational techniques to help individuals learn to be flexible and to think on their feet, was a unique and exceptional Featured Session offered on Thursday afternoon. A conference favorite, “Hearing Aids in Review: 2018,” rounded out the afternoon sessions with Drs. Catherine Palmer, Gus Mueller, and Bob Turner.

On Thursday evening, ABA certificants had an opportunity to meet and network at the ABA Certificant Mixer, while other attendees honored their colleagues at the annual Honors and Awards Banquet (sponsored in part by Phonak) or met with their international colleagues at the International Reception. Regardless of how attendees ended the evening, Thursday was jam-packed with opportunities to learn and have fun!

Friday

The AAAF Coffee for a Cause (philanthropic support provided in part by the Oticon Hearing Foundation) helped attendees get ready for another day of educational sessions and networking events. Many were in attendance at the 7:30 am Learning Modules, while others waited for the 15th anniversary edition of the Marion Downs Lecture in Pediatric Audiology: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)—Considerations in Clinical Care in Pediatric Audiology to begin (philanthropic support provided in part by the Oticon Foundation). The invited panel of experts discussed the science behind ASD and the necessary adaptations needed in the audiological assessment when working with children with ASD. 

Coffee for a Cause ImageThe afternoon got started with the “State Fair” in the exhibit hall Attendee Lounge, where state audiology associations gather to share ideas and promote the activities of their association. The education sessions continued throughout the afternoon with the Student Research Forum, Research Podiums, and a plethora of Learning Modules that covered the breadth of audiology.

Two very popular featured sessions occurred on Friday afternoon. Evaluation and Management of Pediatric Vestibular Issues with lead presenter Violette Lavender, AuD, and her physician and physical therapy colleagues, and Audiology and Medicare: Where Economic Reality Collides with Hearing Care with presenters Ian Windmill, PhD; Barry Freeman, PhD; James W. Hall, PhD; and Jason Freeman. This session was enlightening and provided attendees with the data and information to make appropriate decisions to be advocates for change. 

After the sessions concluded, lucky attendees made their way to the sold-out Friday night event, “A Taste of Columbus,” held at the North Market. The North Market is home to dozens of unique, independent merchants and farmers who provided samples of their “customer favorite” items. This was a delightful way to end the evening with good food, drinks and plenty of sweets. Jeni’s ice cream and the dessert waffles were especially delicious!

SaturdaySAA Conference Image

Saturday started with the fourth annual Clinical Education Forum, hosted by ACAE and CAPCSD. Attendees at this session learned new ways to infuse evidence-based practice in their AuD education programs. The Ethical Practice Committee offered a Tier-1 featured session on Ethical Practices in Audiology and the first outreach event, designed for physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, and other health-care practitioners was held in partnership with the Ohio Academy of Audiology. This session provided an overview of hearing and balance disorders across the lifespan, and discussed the comorbidity of these disorders with other medical conditions that these health-care providers diagnose and treat. This session, titled Collaborative Care: Management of Ear Disorders for Optimal Patient Outcomes, also was intended to help our audiology colleagues identify referral paths and implement similar programs  in their communities. 

There’s no doubt that those in attendance left the conference feeling motivated and inspired, bursting with information and knowledge to share with their colleagues and patients. Thank you to all who attended and for those who continue to value the breadth and depth of educational content that is provided at the AAA Annual Conference!  

We look forward to seeing you next year in New Orleans at AAA 2020, April 1–4.