A Life in Audiology: Memoir by Dr. Jerger
On Founder’s Day (January 30), it is only fitting to review a new memoir, A Life in Audiology (ISBN 978-1-94488-368-3) authored by the Academy’s Founder, Dr. James Jerger. Dr. Jerger credits Rich Tyler with suggesting the idea for the book, which serves as a wonderful account of his life and career in audiology.
Dr. Jerger’s wife, Dr. Susan Jerger, herself an accomplished researcher, author, and editor, provides the preface, and sets the stage for a wonderful journey from Jim’s youth in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Northwestern, prior to eventually settling into the state of Texas. The book contains great insights on the importance or mentorship, collegiality, and the persistent need to challenge the status quo that has defined his career.
I have always been fascinated by the many paths that our leaders have found to audiology when the field was in its infancy. Like many others at the time, Dr. Jerger came through the school of speech, and recounts how he was inspired to study audiology by Professor Helmer Myklebust at Northwestern, who contended (in the late 1940s) that audiology “must necessarily be more than audiograms and hearing aids—that the realm of actual auditory disorders was vastly more encompassing.” This sage advice, along with the encouragement to study with Dr. Raymond Carhart, helped secure a future career in studying auditory disorders.
With typical humility, Jim chronicles his years at Northwestern—first as a student (1945-1946; 1948-1954) and later as faculty (1954-1961)—followed by a brief stint in Washington DC (1961-1962) with enlightening anecdotes from his collaboration with so many household names to most audiologists, but also some individuals that may not be as familiar to contemporary audiologists, including Scott Reger from the University of Iowa. The book continues to discuss how he and Susan met and went on to spend the next 50+ years in Texas, between Houston, Baylor, and Dallas. In 1993, Dr. Jerger and faculty at the Baylor College of Medicine established the first AuD program, graduating their first AuDs in May of 1996.
Chapter 8 details the formation of the American Academy of Audiology, now in its 29th year. Younger Academy members may not have an appreciation regarding the challenges faced during the early years, and the impact the Academy has had on the profession.
Chapter 9 details some of Dr. Jerger’s favorite publications, concluding with one of MY personal favorites from 2013 on the history of the audiogram (Jerger, J. Why the audiogram is upside-down, International Audiology, 146-150, 2013).
Chapters 10 and 11 are devoted to special people and special places that impacted Jim throughout the years, and the Appendix highlights the students that he mentored at Northwestern, Baylor, and the University of Texas at Dallas.
A Life in Audiology is a quick and inspiring read that will be of interest to students and audiologists interested in reading Dr. Jerger’s personal account of his extraordinary career as a clinician, teacher, scientist, mentor and Founder of the American Academy of Audiology.
Happy Founder’s Day!
David Fabry, PhD, is the vice president of medical affairs with GN Hearing and ReSound and the editor-in-chief of Audiology Today and www.audiology.org.