By Hope Gillison and Erin Miller

In keeping with the theme, “All Audiology, All Digital” the Academy launched its first-ever all-virtual conference, AAA 2021 Virtual, held April 14–16. AAA 2021 Virtual delivered the anticipated educational content for both new and seasoned audiologists as well as opportunities for engagement and interaction with colleagues in a safe digital environment.

Through the Intrado platform, more than 1,700 professionals, students, and industry partners were able to learn, engage, and make valuable professional connections. Attendees logged in from across the United States and from all over the world, with countries including Canada, Brazil, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, Japan, and more.

“The sessions are ‘short and sweet’ and I don’t feel overloaded with information. It was enough to process and retain and use day-to-day in my clinic.”
–Dianna Galvan, AuD

Presentations

AAA 2021 Virtual began Wednesday, April 14, with a welcome message from Academy President Angela Shoup, PhD, in the conference virtual lobby. After attendees had time to become acquainted with the space, ask questions, and settle in, the day’s education began with “Innovating the Professional and Patient Experience,” a symposium offered by Starkey, the AAA 2021 Virtual Presenting Sponsor.

On April 15, the keynote address by Daniel Mochon, PhD, “How Behavioral Economics Can Help People Make Better Decisions,” really set the tone with nearly 900 people in attendance. Of the other 15 most-popular sessions, attendance ranged to more than 600 people per session; what a remarkable turnout!

Though it was sad to bring the conference to an end, the timely closing keynote address, “Cultural Humility: A Framework for Action in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” by Debra J. Barksdale, PhD, was attended by 500 people and led to not only a lively discussion during the session Q&A, but also to a powerful dynamic chat in the following final interactive lounge on inclusion, diversity, and equity.

A huge thank you to all our presenters, industry presenters, and attendees who kept the attendance high and the content engaging.

“This is really making me very nostalgic for actually attending conferences. With the interface, it feels very reminiscent of the real deal, and I appreciate that tremendously.”
–Jennifer Whittaker, AuD

Lounges

In total, more than 350 attendees participated in the eight interactive lounges held on Thursday and Friday. The two most-attended lounges were “Oh, The Things You Will Learn: Surviving Your First Five Years as an Audiologist” and “Inclusion, Diversity and Equity.”

Largely attended by young professionals discussing their early years in the audiology profession, the “First Five Years” lounge addressed topics such as work/life balance, scheduling/time management, managing difficult patients, getting involved in your community/giving back, taking risks, managing a sick patient in the office, patients with suicidal thoughts, and others.

In the “Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity” lounge, participants were able to draw from personal experiences as well as speak to insights gained from attending the closing keynote address. Members listened to statements from others respectfully, allowing for a sensitive subject to become a valuable discourse.

Each lounge was a unique experience, and no two conversations were the same. To those who attended any lounge, even just to listen, we are thankful for your interest.

Poster Hall

During AAA 2021 Virtual, it was still possible to browse posters in the virtual e-Poster hall with over 120 entries. While the Academy is grateful for all of the submissions, special congratulations go to the 2021 professional poster winners and to the winners of the James Jerger Award for Excellence in Student Research. Posters are still available for viewing through May 17.

Events

Trivia Night, an American Academy of Audiology Foundation FUN-raiser, was a great way to add some friendly competition into AAA 2021 Virtual. During the event, 71 attendees socialized and put their minds to the test, and 13 teams competed for prizes and bragging rights by answering questions about audiology and general knowledge over four competitive rounds.

Though all teams were in the running, in the end it was Team Beyonce Know-Alls that triumphed with a total of 52 points. The team’s players were Ashley Hughes, AuD; David Jedlicka, AuD; Aaron Roman, AuD; Tricia Scaglione, AuD; and Lori Zitelli, AuD, each player winning a $50 e-gift card. And, hats off to the players in second-place, Team COVID Your Ears, which finished strong with a total of 48 points. This team’s players were Beatriz Alvarado, AuD; Denise Byrd, AuD; Jackie Clark, PhD; Carol Cokely, PhD; and Meagan Lewis, AuD, each winning $25 e-gift card.

Thank you to everyone who participated and to the Trivia Night sponsor, Signia, for making this event possible.

After two days attending sessions and lounges, 40 attendees were able to “wine-down” their evening at the Political Action Committee (PAC) Wine-Tasting Event. Exclusive to Academy members, the event was led by a wine expert, who delved into how to taste wine and how different types of wine are crafted.

Several wine enthusiasts were in attendance, sparking conversation about the pros and cons of cork and screw tops, the effect that weather conditions have upon the quality and taste of wine, and some of the intricate labeling requirements that may exist depending on where the wine is made.

“The Academy has done a fine job in finding a system that visually represents the ‘conference center’ experience.”
–Richard Danielson, PhD

Exhibit Hall

Spanning across six halls, 79 exhibitors set up their virtual booths to showcase new best practices, display product demos, present white papers, and interact with all visiting attendees. Hundreds of attendees visited a hall more than once during the exhibit hall hours each day, asking questions, receiving virtual business cards, watching content, and saving downloadable items into their conference briefcases for later review.

Prize Winners

Throughout AAA 2021 Virtual, all attendees had the chance to participate in gamification; they earned badges by visiting exhibit booths, attending presentations, and completing other tasks. They could also take the Quick Quiz, which tested their knowledge of audiology-related topics.

All attendees could see the public leaderboards as their colleagues and friends added to their total tally of earned points. Congratulations to top prize winner Samantha Fox, who took home Oticon More hearing aids, and to top student prize winner Ashley McCaig, who won an Apple watch.

Prizes were generously donated by American Institute of Balance Foundation, Inc., Audigy, Bellman & Symfon North America, Inc., BendShapeMask, LLC, CapTel from T-Mobile, CounselEAR, e3 Diagnostics, Hamilton CapTel, Ida Institute, Interacoustics, MAICO Diagnostics, MedRx, Inc., Micromedical by Interacoustics (Balance), NationsHearing, Oticon, Inc., Phonak, ReSound, Sonic, Starkey, Thieme Publishers, TIMS Software, UnitedHealthcare Hearing and the Academy.

“The conference was excellent, and I appreciate the 30-day window to go back and earn additional CEUs and re-watch sessions if needed.”
–Suzanne Ginter, AuD

After the Conference

Registration for AAA 2021 Virtual was held open until April 30, giving several more professionals time to access the on-demand content, tour the virtual space, and earn CEUs. All AAA 2021 Virtual educational content is still available on-demand through May 17, 2021.

Additional educational content is available to all conference registrants through eAudiology until December 31, with 16 sessions from other hearing health-care-related organizations.

“While I missed seeing everyone in person, this really was the next best possible thing! I so enjoyed the conference and am looking forward to hopefully participating in person next year!”
–Madeline Smith, AuD

See You in St. Louis

Thank you to everyone who made AAA 2021 Virtual a part of their year; we were so glad to have everyone gathered again in the best way that we could. We are already looking forward to seeing everyone face-to-face next year, March 30–April 2 at AAA 2022 in St. Louis, Missouri. Save the date!

Special Thanks

AAA 2021 Virtual would not have been possible without the Program Committee, all the volunteers on the Program Subcommittees, and the generous support of our sponsors.

PRESENTING SPONSOR
Starkey
PREMIER SPONSORS
CapTel from T-Mobile Hamilton® CapTel®
Phonak Resound
CLASSIC SPONSORS
Amplifon Hearing Health Care CareCredit
Cognivue, Inc. Elite Hearing Network
Oticon, Inc. Rexton
Signia Widex

This article is a part of the May/June 2021 Audiology Today issue.

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