While I begin this new chapter as the 28th president of the American Academy of Audiology, I am astutely aware of the giants who have preceded me in this role and their enduring positive influence on the profession of audiology. I find myself musing about how far (and not so far) we have come; despite audiology being a relatively young profession. Indeed, over the decades, audiology has come through a variety of threats and opportunities; all have brought their own unique challenges and rewards. Over the decades, many of those threats and opportunities have influenced our aims as a professional community.

A recent Dallas Morning News interview of war correspondent Sebastian Junger detailed his proposal that “pro-social” behaviors ensure community longevity and survival. Quite literally, if hardships and adversity triggered antisocial behaviors there would be no society. I couldn’t help but relate his perspectives to unifying our own professional community.

To be clear, I am not referring to each audiologist pledging sole allegiance to only one organization, because the various audiology societies regularly communicate about collaborative initiatives that promote the profession of audiology as a whole. Rather, I refer to individuals who are united to the audiology community. Each time we encounter extreme circumstances (most recently as Hurricanes Irma and Harvey), we witness our audiology community unite to support displaced colleagues in the community. But, we need to stay united daily to ensure our community endures and survives these especially rocky terrains we find ourselves in. 

With a closer look (below) you will note a variety of behaviors identified by various sociologists and psychologists that are known to successfully generate and maintain community unity:

  • You’re special, but NOT special…work at not letting the sense of being different get in the way of belonging.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded people.
  • Ditch judgment—it creates barriers between us and our community.
  • NO BLAME! 
  • Make pro-social steps by taking care of each other.

If we commit to these pro-social behaviors, our profession will only grow more unified.   

Over the past few months, you may have heard and/or read about the Academy Board offering our members many opportunities as a result of the new Academy organizational structure. I am pleased to share that ALL of the many recent openings have been filled by every member who volunteered through our Academy Volunteer Manager system (through the Audiology Community). As the Academy Board moves forward with new initiatives, we will continue to identify many more volunteer opportunities for our members. After all, by sharing the work load within the structure, our community continues to build strength and unity in a pro-social manner.