Chris Araj, AuD
Board Certified in Audiology
Founder, Owner and Audiologist, Pearland Hearing Aids and Audiology
BS: Communication Disorders, Lamar University, 2007
AuD: Audiology, Towson University, 2011
Why are you interested in serving on the Academy board?
I've been involved in our Texas academy for the past several years, and I want to be more active on the national level. I've been on the slate twice for the ABA Board of Governors but unfortunately was not elected. I think I provide a unique perspective being a new professional with prior leadership experience and being a practice owner that started a business independently from scratch.
What challenges or key issues do you see for the Audiology profession in the next five years? What would you hope to accomplish relative to these challenges during your term on the board?
One issue was recently presented to me when I was interviewing students for a 4th-year externship position at my practice. There are some universities that are forcing their students to complete their 4th-year externships with audiologists that pay ASHA to have their CCC-A. I think this is a misconception we've faced for decades. I'd like universities to give their students a choice about where they'd like to gain clinical experience instead of perpetuating a cycle that simply revolves around money. Some other key issues we face today are third-party administrators managing hearing aid benefits, lack of insurance coverage for clinical services, and over the counter hearing aids. I think educating our membership about these issues and giving them tools to help them be successful in the changing landscape is critical. We need to continue the discussion on unbundling/itemizing to show our professional value. One issue I've seen on different forums and listservs is that audiology is still not a household name. Easier said than done, but I'd like to create national campaigns to raise awareness about this.
What experience do you have in the planning, evaluation, and implementation of a strategic plan?
I've served on the Texas Academy of Audiology board of directors for the past several years and currently serve as the President. During my time on the board, we start our year with a face to face meeting that sets our goals and expectations for the year, and we execute this and check in during monthly conference calls and emails throughout the weeks to make sure everyone is on track.
List any experience in Financial Management. Describe your experience in developing and implementing a budget for practice, business, department, or organization?
I started my practice from scratch, independently owned and operated, no contracts or commitments, no loans, entirely done on savings that I've earned since I graduated in 2011. I'm proud of the financial management skills I have and what I've learned from my father as an entrepreneur himself. Being in business for myself has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career, and I learn something new every day. Some people may not realize, but healthcare and audiology is a business. You have to have smart financial management to not only survive but to thrive.
From the list below, select three competencies you feel best to represent your leadership strengths.
Leadership Skills, Relationship Building, Teamwork
Based on the three competencies selected above, comment on how you feel these qualities would positively affect your ability to serve on the Academy board.
My experience serving on the board of directors for the Texas Academy of Audiology, and currently as president, has allowed me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills. Our board has close to 15 people between the elected, appointed, and hired members, so teamwork is vital. We try and collaborate with other organizations in the state, like the Texas Speech, Language, and Hearing Association, and the Texas Hearing Aid Association, so building and maintaining strong relationships with other organizations and key players in the profession is critical.