By Jennifer K. Drohosky
This article is a part of the November/December 2019, Volume 31, Number 6, Audiology Today issue.
The challenge for any certification program is to demonstrate the value of the certification. Depending on whether you are assigning value from the perspective of a patient, their family, the facility that you work for, or for yourself, the value is likely defined differently, and certainly not solely in monetary terms.
I am convinced of the significant value of the Pediatric Audiology Specialty Certification (PASC) for myself, my department, hospital, patients, and community. I enlisted the help of colleagues from around the country, who represent a variety of work settings and years of experience, to share what the PASC means to them, and why, if you are a pediatric audiologist, you should consider it, too.
“I feel strongly that pediatrics should be recognized as a specialty because kids are not tiny adults,” Erin Whitely Adkins, AuD, Wake Forest Baptist Health, said. “They have such a unique set of audiological needs and it is so important for providers to be aware and up to date on the best ways to meet those needs.
“The future of our smallest patients depends on it! So much knowledge goes into proper testing, diagnosis, and management of children with hearing loss,” Adkins said. “When providing care to pediatric patients, you really are caring for the whole family. From initial diagnosis to treatment and follow-up, it is so important to know how to maximize outcomes for not only the patient, but also the family.”
“There’s no question that pediatrics should be a specialty,” Deborah Hayes, PhD, (retired) Children’s Hospital Colorado, said.
“The experience needed to be a good pediatric audiologist is enormous,” she said. “If you see two newborns a year, you can’t gain that experience. Mistakes made at that stage of life can have devastating consequences. It is important to ensure to the public and families that audiologists who are providing identification, diagnosis, and treatment are well qualified to do that.”
What Motivated You to Pursue the PASC?
“Providing audiology care for infants and children sets the stage for their future—in communication and relationships, as well as in school,” Shelley Moats, AuD, Open Arms Children’s Health, a Service of Home of the Innocents, said.
“We need to set these children up for success by providing them with the highest quality of services possible. The PASC ensures that providers have the knowledge and skills to provide a foundation that will set children up for success.”
“I view holding the PASC as documentation of my knowledge and experience with the pediatric population,” Tamar Gomes, AuD, Boston Children’s Hospital, said.
“It is a way of demonstrating my specialty within audiology and a way of showing my dedication to continued learning. I wanted to have it for myself, as well as for any patients or other providers that may be looking for a pediatric specialist and are not familiar with me.”
What Benefit Does the PASC Provide in Your Employment?
“The PASC designation helps elevate our clinic,” Lindsay Shroyer, AuD, Valley ENT, Arizona Hearing and Balance Center Division, said. “We hold ourselves to high standards, but when you have a designation such as PASC, it shows that we are held to standards other than our own. It proves to patients that we are serious about their care and the ever-changing scope of the field.”
Is it Difficult to Keep Up with the Continuing Education Requirements?
“Not at all,” Holle Aungst, AuD, Cleveland Clinic, said. “As the topic holds high interest for me, learning in this area has always been enjoyable. I find that I focus my learning on pediatric Tier 1 activities at the AAA Annual Conference. Tier 1 classes are also available at my state convention. There are also other easy ways to obtain continuing education online. I have never had a problem obtaining the hours and typically exceed the requirements.”
Any Advice or Encouragement that You Would Give Others Considering the PASC?
“For people who work with pediatric patients, I would encourage them to consider PASC,” Jennifer Phelan, AuD, Northwestern University, said. “It is a way for our profession to show our dedication to a specific population and show to our colleagues that we are focused in a specific area. If someone contacted me and asked if they should do it, I would say ‘YES!’ It is worthwhile for them, the profession, and above all, for the kiddos they serve. Why not show you are committed to making sure children get the best from our field?”
Dr. Aungst summed up sentiments shared from across the group.
“I strongly believe that pediatrics should be recognized as a specialty area due to the expanse and growth of knowledge, as well as the unique clinical skills that are required in working with children and families,” she said. “I want to provide the best care that I can to my patients and families and the PASC continues to help me do that.”
This is only a small taste of the passionate feedback from PASC holders. We have no doubt that the PASC brings significant value to pediatric audiologists and their practices across the country.