One of the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) Development Committee’s goals is to promote humanitarian work among our chapters. We believe these kinds of experiences allow students to develop a broader perspective in audiology by acquiring important skills to practice empathy and compassion as a fundamental part of interaction with a patient. Consequently, this committee is working on creating opportunities to develop these kinds of skills.
With this in mind, last year, the SAA Development Committee organized the first humanitarian trip to Red Bird Clinic. The event was named “SAA Red Bird Mission.” Red Bird Clinic has provided quality health services to an underserved population in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains since 1921. For years, Red Bird Clinic has provided health education and public health direct services to low-income individuals. More than 600 patients have received hearing aid services through the clinic. While visiting Red Bird Clinic, students put into practice the skills and abilities learned in their academic and clinical curriculum while experiencing humanitarian work firsthand. Simultaneously, professionals volunteered their time, enriching them professionally and personally.
Over the past few months, we selected students from universities across the country for the annual SAA trip to Red Bird Clinic. This event is scheduled for May 13–17, 2019. During the trip, students will be supervised by two clinical audiologists. One of them is Dr. Raquel Heacock, who was a volunteer on the first SAA Red Bird trip.
Brittany Kyzer, AuD | University of Louisville Physicians-Audiology
Last year, I had the privilege of providing audiology services at Red Bird Clinic. The population served includes low-income individuals from a three-county area. On average, this population will have audiology services available only a few times a year from volunteers across the country. Through donations from hearing aid and earmold companies, as well as audiology clinics, audiologists (and audiology students) are able to make the scenic drive to the clinic and provide basic services to a significant number of people. Over our week-long stay, the experience of providing patient care was both challenging and extremely rewarding.
During the week we were at Red Bird Clinic, another audiologist, a group of students from surrounding audiology graduate programs, and I completed tasks such as hearing aid and earmold fittings, earmold impressions, hearing aid cleanings, hearing aid troubleshooting, and basic audiologic exams. On average, we saw upward of 30 to 40 patients a day. By offering these services, we provided the gift of sound to numerous people. The joy our volunteer work brought to the patients we served that week provided not only a sense of fulfillment, but also encouraged and inspired us all to continue the life-changing work that is the practice of audiology.
Claire Roland | University of Cincinnati
I have had the opportunity to attend Red Bird Clinic three times during my graduate career. Each time it has brought me an overwhelming sense of community. Being able to work with my classmates and provide audiological services to those in need is the most rewarding experience. I procured a great deal of independence working in the clinic, which helped me gain the confidence and speed I needed. I have never worked with such appreciative patients before Red Bird Clinic. The patients who received hearing aids were so grateful for their restored ability to communicate with family and friends. Red Bird is a nonprofit organization and has limited funds for hearing aids; therefore, the waitlist to get hearing aids can take a couple of years.
The students selected this year hope to carry on last year’s mission by providing ongoing audiology services to the patients of the Red Bird Clinic, as well as gaining invaluable audiology and humanitarian experiences. The SAA Development Committee is looking forward to continuing to foster a relationship with Red Bird Clinic and carry on this service trip yearly.