This is my last column as president, and there are so many things that need to be said. Over the past 12 months, the Academy Board, staff, and committees have tackled a lot.

While OTC has been the dominate legislative issue, we’ve advocated for the Access to Frontline Care Act (student loan forgiveness in exchange for practicing in underserved areas), the Hearing Aid Tax Credit Bill, and the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act. We’ve supported legislation related to telehealth services, monitored potential regulations from the FTC for hearing-care services, and opposed cuts to funding for the National Institutes of Health. We continue to pursue the option for patients to see an audiologist without the need for a referral, and to monitor the legislative agenda for initiatives that may reduce reimbursement to audiologists. 

We’ve begun to evolve the annual conference to be more creative and inclusive. The name “AudiologyNOW!” is being retired in favor of something simple. The Academy's annual conference will be “AAA 2018,” Columbus will be “AAA 2019,” and so on. We are partnering with other organizations such as AVAA, ARA, and CAPCSD to offer specialty areas, and are changing the way featured session topics are selected. We want the annual conference and exposition to meet the educational needs of members, while also providing the networking opportunities necessary to enhance the professional endeavors of the audiology community.  

The Board undertook a restructuring of the Academy to reduce redundancy, increase responsiveness, and allow the inclusion of more members in leadership roles. The staff of the Academy has simultaneously been restructured to match the new look. Our partners, ACAE, ABA, Foundation, and SAA have all been engaged in this process. We think this restructuring sets up the Academy to be a positive force for audiology for the future.

As part of this restructuring, a two-year action plan for the Board, committees, and staff was developed. The action plan focuses our resources and provides a framework on which to provide a demonstrable return on investment for members.  

Most importantly, I wish to convey my sincere thanks to the Board, the staff, the committees, and the members for your support over the past year. My goal was to build upon the efforts of my predecessors and to leave the Academy in better shape than when I started.  

With appreciation and thanks to all!