Why attend if you are a “Vestibulo-audiologist”
Having attended quite a few AudiologyNOW! conventions, one of the major areas of growth and development I have seen over the years is the increase in vestibular and balance related topics. There is a vestibular track filled with learning modules, learning labs, and featured sessions. There are so many course offerings that I have to sometimes choose between two vestibular talks going on at the same time! It’s a good thing that speaker handouts are available for download, and audio recordings are available for purchase, so I am sure to not miss a thing! The program book gives a great indication of the level of discussion ranging from introductory to advanced. I would also recommend the Grand Rounds in Vestibular Disorders featured session. This panel is always filled with experts sharing unique cases and invaluable insights.
When I began my education and training to become an audiologist, I had no concept of what the vestibular system was. Truth be told, I never knew it existed, let alone how it worked. In the beginning I feared learning about it. I failed to see the relevance. Heck, I was studying to help people hear and communicate better, why did I need to learn about “dizzy patients” anyway? But, as part of my first job, I was required to perform basic VNG/ENG testing, so I jumped in head first. As my education and experience grew I realized just how underserved those “dizzy patients” were. They would visit so many specialists before coming into my lab. I was intrigued and awed at the spectrum of patients and disorders walking through my door. I started questioning how I could better serve this population who was clearly in need of help. By attending AudiologyNOW! almost annually, I was able to fill in the gaps and hone in skills necessary to serve this patient population.
One of the biggest highlights of my career happened in the Exhibit Hall during AudiologyNOW! 2009 in Dallas. I had the opportunity to meet and talk to Dr. Epley, the man who developed the maneuver responsible for helping so many patients! When you get to discuss what you are passionate about with those that share the same desire, it is an incredible feeling. In the past few years, there have been great advances in the technology surrounding vestibular assessment. The Exhibit Hall is a great way to investigate these systems in person. How often are you able to sit in two different rotational chairs in the same day, let alone the same hour? Manufacturer representatives and the developers are more than happy to talk “shop” with you. They answer all of your questions and let you check out their software.
If the field of Audiology is small, which it is, compared to other professions, then the subset of those who consider themselves Vestibulo-audiologist is tiny. However, at an event like AudiologyNOW!, that feeling goes away. You may be the only one of your colleagues in your practice setting interested in the vestibular system. If that’s the case, it’s very hard to exchange ideas with your colleagues, who are more focused on the auditory system. But in the lectures, everyone in the room has an interest. That’s why attendance at AudiologyNOW! is so important for the Vestibulo-audiologists out there.
Bre Myers, AuD