By Virginia Ramachandran
This article is a part of the January/February 2023, Volume 35, Number 1, Audiology Today issue.
Imagine choosing to:
- Organize a meeting for 32 audiologists to create a new organization, “of, by, and for audiologists,”
- Host an in-person steering committee to write bylaws,
- Host an in-person advisory committee meeting to write a charter to incorporate the American Academy of Audiology,
- Publish the first edition of Audiology Today, and
- Plan and host a professional meeting for over 600 audiologists in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
Imagine doing that work on an Apple 2 desktop computer with 48K of memory and (gasp) no internet. Now imagine doing all of that in just over a year. Sounds daunting, yet that was precisely what the founding members of the American Academy of Audiology managed to accomplish in the infancy of the organization.
Much has changed in the time since that first meeting in Houston in 1988. As a profession, we have witnessed numerous changes, many of which were supported by Academy initiatives, including the evolution of audiology education to a doctoral-level degree, a change from certification to licensure as the defining credential for practice, becoming officially recognized as independent “health-care diagnosing and treating practitioners” by the U.S. Department of Labor, obtaining independent representation for the profession at the American Medical Association’s Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) and RVS (Relative Value Scale) Update Committee (RUC), and, most recently, being recognized as directly accessible health-care providers for the Medicare population.
What has clearly not changed is the enthusiasm and dedication of our members and volunteers. The Academy is and has always been a membership-driven organization. Nearly every activity of the Academy is initiated and largely implemented by volunteers, with the support of a committed staff. This is both a benefit and a challenge. The passion that drives our willingness to contribute can sometimes be so strong as to too narrowly focus or even divide our interests.
I’ve often heard comments that we should choose to invest only in organizations that serve our specific professional interests and goals. However, at the end of 1988, Academy President Dr. James Jerger reflected on the need to harness our energies to the greater good:
While we agreed to disagree on a number of issues, we recognized that no one’s special interest would remain viable unless everyone’s special interest was respected.
I believe that Dr. Jerger had the right idea. We are so much stronger together. The accomplishments that occurred in the first year of the Academy, and since, are a testament to this. We have so much to be proud of. Let’s take a moment to enjoy the successes, to embrace our professional home with a commitment to its future, and, on its 35th birthday, to wish it many happy returns!