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Serving as a Clinical Preceptor

Serving as a Clinical Preceptor

Serving as a clinical preceptor as a new professional is a unique job, which has both advantages and disadvantages. Being a new professional can be beneficial because the new professional can apply their recent experience as a student to effectively teach other students. For example, a new professional may better remember the aspects of masking that are confusing to students and be able to clearly explain those concepts while a more experienced audiologist may not remember the learning process and have a harder time breaking down those concepts. Although recent experience as a student is helpful when precepting, it does not make a new professional qualified to function in this role. The preceptor must be able to simultaneously perform as an educator and as a clinician, which takes knowledge, skill and continuing education. A new professional should not take on this task until they feel they have been properly educated.

There are many resources available to help professionals become equipped to precept students and anyone who precepts should view the role as a subset of audiology, which requires ongoing education. The following are useful resources:

Regardless of how educated the new professional is on the topic of precepting, there are inherent barriers to being a new professional, which can be overcome as long as the new professional recognizes that they exist. The first barrier is that in many instances, there is virtually no age gap between the student and the new professional. This can be an advantage because it eliminates generational differences in learning and teachings styles. However, the small age gap can also create issues when the roles of preceptor and student are not defined because the line between friendship and professional relationship may be blurred. This issue can be eliminated by setting boundaries, goals and expectations on the student’s first day. 

Another barrier that exists as a new professional is lack of experience. No amount of knowledge can make up for the amount of clinical experience that a senior audiologist has obtained simply due to their number of years in practice. A new professional must be able to recognize the scope of their experience and know when to seek help, especially when they are working with a student. 

The “Characteristics of Effective Preceptors” self-assessment tool is a great way for a new professional to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and recognize what they need to do in order to build upon their precepting skills. The tool is quick to complete and can be repeated periodically throughout one’s career.

Precepting can be a fun and challenging job but earning an AuD does not automatically make someone qualified to be a clinical preceptor so a new professional must understand what it takes to precept a student before they agree to the task. 

Professionalism in Social Media

Professionalism in Social Media

Remember that awesome party from sophomore year of college? Not so much? Well, Facebook remembers. As we transition from college students to graduate students to professionals, the way we portray ourselves in the online world can have significant impact on the trajectory or our careers.

While almost everyone utilizes some type of social media, and a presence on the internet is a positive thing, the content can either benefit or work against you when viewed by colleagues. As you gain more professional friendships and acquaintances, it is always a good idea to review your social media presence and determine if the image you are projecting is an accurate representation of who you are.

Knowing the right type of content to post on each platform is imperative to maintaining professional relationships and protecting your reputation.

Facebook: Think of Facebook like the backyard BBQ of social media. This is where you share family photos, videos of your dog chasing a squirrel, a recipe that you made last night, etc. The people seeing what you post on Facebook should be personal friends and family. Sometimes your work peers become your personal friends, so should you befriend them on Facebook? Well that depends, are they in a position of authority? Would you be embarrassed or could you get in trouble based on a post (even if it is from several years ago)?

What about building a reputation in the community? If you’re in a practice that is utilizing Facebook for marketing purposes, and your face is visible to patients or the community, it may be smart to create an additional profile for professional purposes only. This is an opportunity for you to reach out and participate in the Facebook community with less risk of exposing your privacy (or embarrassing photos from 10 years ago).

Twitter: Twitter is a huge platform to communicate information, and although you’re limited a just a few characters, what you type can say a lot about you. If you are using Twitter professionally, make sure you keep your tweets professional. This account is not the one to discuss what happened on last night’s episode of The Bachelor, or angrily tweet at the airlines for a delayed flight. Oftentimes, professional networking events will encourage and even host competitions for tweeting, and this is potentially an opportunity for you to really stand out (in a good or bad way).

LinkedIn: It is pretty well-accepted that LinkedIn is the place for professional social networking. Should you have a LinkedIn profile? Absolutely! This is a great way for you to share articles, find information, and build your network of peers without the fear of your weekend activities being broadcast to all your connections.

There are obviously many other avenues of social media today, Instagram, Snapchat, and even things like Pinterest and Musically. If you are applying for a job, you should definitely assume that your potential employer is looking at your social media footprint, and an innocent photo from ages ago can portray an entirely different message to a stranger. If you have to question it, delete it.

Social Media is great way to share information with others, keep up with our friend’s busy lives, and show off all the awesome things you are doing- just make sure you are communicating the right message to the right people!

New Professionals Guide to Continuing Education

New Professionals Guide to Continuing Education

A continuing education unit (CEU) is a unit of credit that equals 10 hours of participation in an accredited education or training program. CEUs are designed for professionals who have obtained certification or licensure to stay up to date with current practices in their field, typically on an annual or biennial basis. As a recent graduate, the topic of CEUs is new and unfamiliar yet extremely important, as it is now required as a newly practicing professional. Below you will find the answers to some of the questions many new graduates have about CEUs.

How many credit hours are needed each year to continue practicing?
The number of required CEU credits varies between states and organizations. For example, there is no CEU requirement to maintain American Academy of Audiology membership; however, there are CEU requirements for state licensure and American Speech and Hearing Association certification. Specific CEU requirements can be found on the states’ government speech and hearing website or on the websites of various professional organizations.

What are some opportunities to obtain CEUs?
CEUs can often be obtained at national organization conferences such as AAA or ASHA. Additionally, CEUs may be offered at state conferences or at the local level including university courses, seminars, or lectures. If traveling to state or national conferences isn’t feasible, there are other ways to acquire CEUs. For instance CEUs may be earned online through organizations, including, but not limited to:

  • eAudiology web seminars (live or on-demand) to members for $109/year and $399/year for nonmembers.
  • The JAAA CEU Program provides learning assessments available in the 2018 issues of JAAA for $95/year.
  • The Academy’s Ethics in Audiology “Green Book” program offers in-depth information on common ethical issues faced by audiologists in a variety of different settings such as practice management, teaching, and research for $15/CEU for members and $25/CEU for nonmembers.
  • Peer-to-Peer Mentoring through the Academy. Participants pay a one-time application fee of $75 and can earn up to 0.6 CEUs per year.
  • AudiologyOnline which offers unlimited CEUs for $99/year.
  • Available CEU courses can be found on the ASHA CEFind website where you can search thousands of courses that are offered by a wide variety of approved CEU organizations.
  • Seminars in Hearing (journal) by Thieme Publishing offers self-assessments that can be taken for CEUs.

How can one track earned CEUs?
Proof of credits earned is often necessary in order to renew licensure or certification. CEUs can be tracked in different ways. One option would be to create a simple spreadsheet that includes pertinent CEU information (name of course, date completed, type of credit, number of credit, etc.) and an attachment of the certificate of completion. Various electronic CEU tracking applications are available such as CE Broker. CE Broker has partnered with several state speech and hearing boards, offering a free basic account and simplifying the licensure renewal process. Additionally, some organizations offer a CEU tracking and recording service. For instance, the Academy’s CE Registry is an efficient way to track and organize your completed CEUs from Academy approved providers. Additionally, at the end of each year, an official transcript of your coursework is available to download. The Academy CE Registry is free for members and $60/year for nonmembers.

Mentorship

Mentorship

Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor? Do you even know what a mentor really is? 

Every successful person in the world has had someone show them the ropes along their way to success at some point. In fact, a survey from the Association of Talent Development (ATD) found that 75% of private-sector executives credit their mentors for where they are now in their careers. The survey also showed that 71% of Fortune 500 companies use mentoring programs to help train new employees and develop new leaders. So it must be important, right?

As new professionals, we have much to learn. So why is it then that most of us don’t actively pursue a mentor to help advance our professional careers?

The benefits are clear for both the mentor and protégé - the most obvious being personal and professional growth. However, there are other advantages including the development of leadership skills, getting access to a larger professional network through the mentor, and being exposed to new perspectives.

It is up to you and the other person as to how formal or informal you want the mentor relationship to be but being clear and deliberate about your goals for the relationship and what you want to achieve is imperative for a successful mentorship.

When looking for a mentor, you’ll want to find someone who not only knows what you want to know but is also willing to take time to guide you. Hopefully you also chose someone who you get along with since you will be spending some time together.    

On the other side, as new professionals, we also have much to contribute. Just because we’re ‘new’ or young doesn’t preclude us from being able to act as a mentor to others. If you consider that we’re all on a spectrum of knowledge and that on one side of us are people with more knowledge and on the other side are people with less, we will always be in a position to learn from those ahead of us while contributing to the growth of those behind us.  This is how we as a profession can become stronger.

So how do you get started? Perhaps you already have someone in mind and just haven’t taken that first step to ask. Maybe you don’t think you know anyone who would be willing to be a mentor. Luckily, audiology has many willing mentors out there ready to pass their knowledge along.  If you need more help, there are hundreds of books on the subject to help you find your path. The key is to just get started.

If you’re interested in being a part of a mentor program, the Academy recently launched a Peer-to-Peer Mentoring CEU Program. Contact Katy Sidwell for more information.

Find a mentor, be a mentor, and find success.

TeleHealth and Licensure

TeleHealth and Licensure

Do you know if your state license regulates the services you may provide via telehealth or tele-audiology?  Do you know what telehealth is?  Telehealth is the concept of providing healthcare services remotely via technology such as high-speed internet, webcam, and smart phone.  This technology is evolving rapidly and becoming a part of daily audiology practice today.  The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) utilizes clinical video telehealth to provide real-time video appointments between audiologists and veteran patients at remote clinical sites.  Beyond the VHA telehealth program there are now various hearing aid manufacturers providing remote programming options for their devices.  This will allow the audiologist to make programming adjustments through an app on the patient’s phone.  What this means is that tele-audiology is closer to becoming a daily part of your practice than you may realize.  Does your license support it?

In September of 2017 the State of Illinois passed a new version of the Speech Pathology and Audiology Practice Act which became effective January 1, 2018.  These changes are thanks in part to the advocacy efforts of the Illinois Academy of Audiology.  Among many improvements to the licenses of Illinois audiologists this act included provisions allowing an audiologist to provide services through telehealth modalities.  The practice act specifies that the practice of audiology may be conducted with video conferencing.  It further explains that the use of telephone, email, messaging, and store and forward technology should be used in conjunction with or supplementing the use of video conferencing.  Additionally, this act regulates that an audiologist outside of Illinois but providing services to a patient in Illinois is subject to the rules and regulations of this act.

On the federal level the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act (H.R. 2550) has been introduced and identifies audiologists as eligible providers of telehealth services for Medicare patients.  As it currently stands an audiologist is not reimbursed by Medicare for telehealth related services.  Within the VHA a new rule has been proposed which will allow providers employed by the VHA to provide telehealth services (including tele-audiology) anywhere in the country regardless of the location of provider and patient.  There is also companion legislation to this rule (S.925) which has passed the Senate and is now in consideration with the House which allows VHA providers to practice across state lines, via telehealth, without restriction by individual states.

As advancements in telehealth continue and telehealth becomes more widely adopted by health care providers, it is important that audiologists understand licensure requirements and our scope of practice in the state or states in which we practice.  If you are unsure about your license consult your practice act and read it thoroughly.  Contact your state audiology licensure board or look for resources from within your state association if you have questions or concerns about your specific situation.

Perkins Loan Forgiveness

Perkins Loan Forgiveness

Did you receive Federal Perkins loans during your undergraduate or graduate education? As an allied health professional, you may be eligible to have all or a portion of your Federal Perkins loans canceled! An application, including proof of licensure and full time employment, must be submitted to the holder(s) of your Perkins loans. If approved, loan payments will be postponed for 12 consecutive months of eligible full time employment. Upon subsequent documentation of eligible employment, a portion of the loan is canceled. This postponement/cancellation cycle is repeated for a minimum of 5 years, during which time up to 100% of Perkins Loans may be canceled.

Contact the holder of your Perkins loans (either your university or their designated 3rd party servicer) to submit a request for postponement/cancellation. Keep in mind that if you attended multiple universities, you will need to submit multiple applications to whichever institutions hold your loans. Reach out to your university or visit the student aid website to learn more.