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Academy of Doctors of Audiology aims at making audiology a profession of owners

Kirkwood, David H.

doi: 10.1097/01.HJ.0000368592.97458.29

A report on the 2009 ADA Convention.

“Today, audiology is at a crossroads and our future autonomy is at stake,” Charles Stone, AuD, president of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology, told members in his state-of-the-academy address during ADA's Annual Convention, held October 29-31 in Clearwater Beach, FL. He added, “I encourage you to become personally involved in the important work that lies ahead.”

Specifically Stone said, “I challenge you to advocate for autonomous practice and ownership of the audiology profession today. Will you lead the charge for direct access in your district today? Will you serve as a preceptor or mentor to ensure that a student is well trained today? Will you help us create a better ADA, a better audiology profession today?”

Stone noted that SPLASH!, the theme of the meeting, was both an acronym for strategic thinking, practice management solutions, leadership development, audiology best practices, sound peer advice, and horizon planning, and a reference to the organization's heritage. For, as he put it, “ADA has always made a big splash in helping move audiology forward.” As examples of its success, he cited winning for audiologists the right to dispense hearing aids and spearheading the campaign to make audiology a doctoring profession.

Now, he said, ADA has new goals. The “primary objective,” the president said, is “to be the organization that embraces and promotes audiologists owning the profession through autonomous practice models.”

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Stone noted, “We recognize that we are not in this alone—not as an organization and not as individual members.” Therefore, he said, ADA has been increasingly focused on building partnerships with other organizations to advance the profession.

One example of collaboration that he cited was the recent formation of a task force to respond to the American Medical Association's (AMA) Scope of Practice Data Series on Audiologists, which he said, “contained several inaccuracies about the audiology profession.” Stone charged that the AMA document “was intended to be used to constrain audiology's scope of practice and splinter our progress.” But, he added, “The great thing is that it has instead served to unify us as professionals.” The task force is coordinated by the American Academy of Audiology with participation by ADA, the American Board of Audiology, the Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education, the Military Audiology Association, and the Association of VA Audiologists.

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Preceding Stone on the speaker's platform at the Opening General Session was Tabitha Parent Buck, AuD, the convention chair, who shared “pearls of wisdom” from several past ADA presidents. Among those she quoted were two of the ADA leaders honored during the session.

One was Mary Caccavo, PhD, of Lafayette, IN, whom Parent Buck quoted as saying “Building a successful private practice is building relationships, one patient as a time.” Caccavo, president of ADA in 1997-1998, received the Joel Wernick Award for Excellence in tribute to her long service and educational contributions to audiology.

The Leo Doerfler Award, named for ADA's founding president, was presented to David Berkey, AuD, of Asheville, NC, for “dedication to exemplary clinical service” for more than 30 years. Parent Buck quoted ADA's 2008 president as saying, “As far as our patients are concerned, they don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

The third major award, the David P. Goldstein Outstanding Audiologist Award presented by the Audiology Foundation of America (AFA), honored a couple: Linda Burba, AuD, and Richard Burba, MBA, of Glen Ellyn, IL. Although only she is an audiologist, both of them contributed greatly to establishing the AuD as the entry-level degree in audiology and served as board members and officers of AFA.

Although she preceded Charlie Stone on the podium, Tabitha Parent Buck succeeded him as president of ADA, being installed at the end of the 2009 convention. The new president, who was a member of the world's first graduating class of doctors of audiology, is chair of audiology at A.T. Still University, Arizona School of Health Sciences.

Also serving on the ADA board for 2010 will be Stone, as past president; Bruce Vircks, AuD, president-elect; Eric Hagberg, AuD, treasurer; Susan Parr, AuD, secretary; and members-at-large Brian Urban, AuD, and Pamela Benbow, AuD. In addition, Rita Chaiken, AuD, was appointed a member-at-large for 2 years to fill the vacancy created by the election of Vircks as president-elect.

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It was not all business at the Convention, which drew 611 people, (including 473 members and other audiologists), about 100 more than attended the 2008 meeting in Las Vegas. Attendees enjoyed an opening night reception in the exhibit hall and a Friday night beach party under balmy skies.

To kick off the opening session in traditionally wacky ADA style, convention committee members danced onto the stage to the strains of Bobby Darin's Splish, Splash, I Was Taking a Bath,while wearing costumes reflecting the SPLASH! theme.

Keynote speaker Kathy Buckley, self-described as “America's first hearing-impaired comedienne” and now a motivational speaker as well, served up a mix of humor and emotional, sometimes tearful, recollections of the struggles she faced growing up deaf—and being misdiagnosed as mentally retarded.

Speaking gratefully about her audiologist, she said, “Michael, you changed my life. I am never going to give up on myself because Michael never gave up on me.” In her closing message to audiologists, she said, “You do not understand the gifts you give. You are fitting people with self-respect. You are truly heroes. Your patients need you more than you will ever know.”

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