This year’s meeting kicked off with the 10th annual Academy Research Conference (ARC), which focused on genetics and hearing loss. More than 175 registrants participated in this one-day translational conference chaired by Kathleen Arnos, PhD. Dr. Arnos assembled a world-renowned line-up of leading researchers who shared their work on topics that included a primer on genetics for the clinician; genetic testing and counseling; genetic association with vestibular disorders and unilateral hearing loss; age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss; and therapies for hearing loss. See page 52 of this issue for the summaries of the ARC presentations.
Sold-out learning labs on Wednesday morning featured hands-on training for everyone and included topics from cerumen management to cochlear implant programming, and hearing aid verification. About 30 attendees spent the morning learning to promote our profession through the Public Relations Media Training workshop. In addition to ARC and learning labs, new professionals had their own miniconference, supported by Phonak, LLC, and other attendees participated in an Advocacy Workshop.
The First-Time Attendee Orientation was packed and provided “newbies” with helpful information to make the most out of their experience. The afternoon continued with well-attended learning modules and featured sessions. This year, the Academy collaborated with Vanderbilt University to bring the annual Judith Gravel Memorial Lecture to AAA 2018 attendees. Music for Deaf Ears: Cochlear Implant Mediated Perception of Music was presented by Dr. Charles Limb. Grand rounds this year were divided into four presentations and vestibular grand rounds was featured Wednesday afternoon.
Celebrate Audiology (sponsored in part by Hamilton CapTel) kicked off the evening’s social events in the exhibit hall, where everyone gathered to enjoy food, drink, and entertainment while meeting with exhibitors and reconnecting with colleagues. Several universities hosted gatherings for their students, faculty, staff, and alumni during the event. Immediately after Celebrate Audiology, many AAA Foundation supporters gathered at the Omni Hotel for the annual AAA Foundation Happy Hour Benefit (philanthropic support provided in part by Phonak, LLC). Party-goers enjoyed a very competitive silent auction of donated high-end handbags with proceeds supporting the Foundation.
Thursday morning, Academy president Jackie Clark, PhD, and Nashville Vice Mayor and local audiologist Sheri Weiner, AuD, welcomed attendees to the General Assembly, which was attended by more than 3,000 participants. On the occasion of the Academy’s 30th anniversary, the program chairs for the first and 30th annual conferences were welcomed to the stage, Fred Bess and Eileen Rall, AuD, respectively. Dr. Clark and Academy president-elect Lisa Christensen, AuD, also made remarks.
The Assembly (sponsored in part by Amplifon) concluded with keynote speaker Jeff Goldsmith, PhD, one of the nation’s premier health-care futurists. Dr. Goldsmith discussed how the current medical environment directly impacts the profession of audiology. Immediately following the General Assembly, current Board of Directors member Sarah Sydlowski, AuD, PhD, moderated a diverse panel of experts discussing current trends in audiology.
The afternoon was packed with educational opportunities, including poster sessions, industry updates, exhibitor courses, research podium presentations, and learning modules. The AAA Foundation sponsored Dr. Tacy M. Byham’s inspirational featured session Lead Like a Girl. Thursday afternoon also featured Perspectives on Hidden Hearing Loss/Beyond the Pure-Tone Audiogram and Bases for Auditory and Vestibular Features of mTBI as well as Grand Rounds–Adults. The American Board of Audiology Speed Updating gave attendees an opportunity to learn more about ABA Board Certification directly from board-certified audiologists.
Thursday evening closed with several social events, including the ABA Certificant Mixer, the International Reception (sponsored in part by Hearing Industries Association) and the annual Honors and Awards Banquet (sponsored in part by Phonak, LLC) for those receiving the honors of the Academy. Many attendees also participated in a successful and entertaining fundraiser for the Political Action Committee (PAC) by “Pedaling for the PAC” in downtown Nashville.
As the sun rose, so did those attendees who participated in the 6:00 am sunrise yoga class. Participating in 7:30 am learning modules was also a way many chose to start their Friday morning bright and early. The AAA Foundation raised funds with Coffee for a Cause just before the annual Marion Downs Lecture in Pediatrics (sponsored in part by the Oticon Foundation). Dr. Dana Suskind was this year’s invited speaker and she shared her innovative program, The Thirty Million Word Project, promoting early language learning. After a morning of learning in classes as well as in the exhibit hall, the State Fair (sponsored in part by Sprint CapTel) gave many state organizations a chance to promote activities from across the country. The learning continued throughout the afternoon with multiple diverse educational offerings including the always-popular and entertaining Hearing Aids in Review with Drs. Catherine Palmer, Gus Mueller, and Bob Turner.
One of the final sessions on Friday was the most well-attended. More than 600 attendees gathered for Grand Rounds–Pediatrics, where they learned about seven diverse and challenging cases.
In the evening, nearly 500 attendees put on their dancing shoes—actually boots— and celebrated audiology at the iconic Wildhorse Saloon (sponsored in part by Amplifon). The Academy took over the venue’s second and third tiers and partied until the wee hours of the morning with games and line dancing. It was the most-attended Friday night social event in the Academy’s history.
After three solid days of learning, those with any energy left enjoyed an invigorating morning of Zumba to launch their last day of the annual conference. Featured sessions included a Tier 1 Ethics session led by members of the Academy’s Ethical Practices Committee and the session Over-the-Counter Hearing Devices and the Hearing Health Care Needs of Older Adults, by Larry Humes. For those wanting to know the latest in audiology education, ACAE and CAPCSD co-hosted the third annual Clinical Education Forum. In addition, AAA 2018 also featured an informative three-hour workshop for office staff.
After the conference concluded, many attendees chose to extend their time in Music City and enjoyed the sites, sounds and flavors of Nashville.
More than 1,255 students joined us in Nashville for the annual conference, the largest number to date. Forty-nine students were invited to start off their experience at the Student Leadership in Audiology Conference (SLAC). Throughout the three days of educational sessions, students could choose to attend one of the general educational sessions or from several offerings designed just for students to meet their learning objectives. In addition to educational sessions, the SAA Scavenger Hunt made exploration of the exhibit hall informative, competitive, and rewarding with several great prizes.
The AuD Toolbox session on Thursday gave students the opportunity to participate in 10 roundtable discussions, two of which were designed to answer questions by undergraduates about the graduate school application process and benefits of undergraduate SAA associate membership.
Saturday concluded with the SAA Conference, which featured educational as well as networking opportunities with leaders in our profession. Educational sessions were not the only offering for students. From the SAA Mix and Mingle (sponsored in part by Starkey Hearing Industries) to the creative and competitive SAA T-Shirt Contest and the annual SAA fundraiser Cheers for Ears (sponsored by Phonak, LLC), the 30th annual conference of the American Academy of Audiology provided information as well as opportunities to develop relationships among students from across the country.