In August 2015, I began employment at Purdue University, hired as a clinical assistant professor in Audiology. My primary responsibilities include clinical supervision and education of first- and second-year AuD students. As part of our faculty responsibilities, we share in service projects for the department, university, students, and community. For my first service project, I was asked to take over as advisor to the Purdue Audiology Student Organization (PASO), which had been functioning successfully for more than 10 years. This group was not affiliated with the American Academy of Audiology (Academy) at the time, but was simply a local group formed to support the needs of undergraduates and graduate students interested in audiology.
PASO met twice a month as a general group and twice a month for executive board meetings. I quickly learned that I looked forward to PASO meetings and events. Working with the students in a different manner, outside of clinical care, was rewarding in a new way for me. I truly enjoy teaching clinical skills and discussing patient interaction, but this new role has allowed me to discuss other aspects regarding the field of audiology, such as advocacy, community service and education, billing issues, and professional development. Being the advisor is just that, I advise. The students run the group and make decisions regarding activities and events. My job is to help guide them in professional decision-making and to provide resources as needed. Watching these upcoming audiologists work with enthusiasm and commitment has been inspiring for me.
Transition to the Student Academy of Audiology
Shortly after I became the PASO advisor, the executive board became interested in transitioning to a Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) chapter. National SAA is a well-run organization, providing local chapters with suggestions and resources for activities on a larger scale. On the SAA website, resources are provided indicating the benefits of student membership as well as local chapter involvement. Undergraduate students have resources that can help when applying to graduate schools. Graduate students have access to information on financial benefits for education and professional needs. Chapters have funding opportunities and resources for engaging with the public.
The executive board discussed a plan and presented it to the members of PASO. They shared their perceived benefit for joining SAA and the group voted to affiliate with the national organization. By becoming a part of SAA, many new avenues opened up. Instead of reinventing the wheel, local chapters are able to easily become involved in advocacy and education for audiology.
Benefits to Students
One of the most exciting parts of being involved in SAA is watching Purdue students become involved in national committees. Not only are they a part of our local chapter and events, some of our students have gone on to be elected to the executive board for national SAA. Nine Purdue students are working with SAA on a national level after only three short years as a chapter. Our students have become involved in multiple ways, including planning conferences; working as liaisons to Academy committees; volunteering as state ambassadors; and working on humanitarian, membership, advocacy, and education committees.
Some also serve on a website review task force to improve documentation and processes for students. They are inspiring the new students in the program to become involved on a national scale, as well. Not only are we training these students to become future audiologists, we’re training them to take over and lead our field!
Benefits to Professionals
By being SAA advisor for the Purdue chapter, I was also asked to become an advisor for one of the national SAA committees, currently known as the Public Outreach Committee (POC). I work with a student who has been elected chair and a group of students from across the United States and Puerto Rico, all who volunteer to ensure that public awareness and advocacy for hearing and hearing health care become a priority.
It has been a pleasure to watch these very dedicated students tackle big projects, to organize conference presentations, and to further our goals as audiologists. I am truly amazed by their dedication and enthusiasm. These students are immersing themselves in state and national legislative issues to ensure that the needs of audiologists and our patients are monitored and addressed.
Being the advisor for the POC also places me on the Student Academy of Audiology Advisory Committee, which means I get to meet with other working audiologists who have volunteered to advise students on other SAA committees. This group works together to discuss the needs of students as a whole, supporting each other and designing plans to help shape these young professionals as they begin to move into the field. This connection with other professionals has been extremely beneficial for me. I have learned a lot about the needs of students and advocating for audiology in general.
Benefits to the Profession
On average, 85 percent of SAA members annually transition to Academy members when they become working professionals. Membership in SAA has grown over the past 10 years, with approximately 2,000 members from 71 chapters. A large majority of SAA board members go on to become Academy board members.
These students are excited about audiology and our future. I believe these future professionals will make great efforts to improve the profession of audiology and help emphasize the use of evidence-based practice for patient care.
The profession of audiology and health care is changing constantly and we need students who are passionate about moving our field forward. Working with students in this capacity has made the future of audiology much brighter for me.
I thought that I was taking over this small group of local students to help mentor them in interesting projects, but it quickly became much more. I am truly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of SAA, on the local and national scale, and highly encourage other seasoned professionals to become involved as well.