Audiology is a dynamic profession with rapid advances in research and technology. It is almost impossible for nonacademic clinicians to keep abreast of developments and to demonstrate high levels of expertise without targeted educational support. Audiology needs a new educational path in specialty areas from thought leaders and front-line clinicians that will transfer information from academia and industry into clinical practices and client services.
The transition from the clinical master's degree to the audiology doctorate in the United States achieved its primary objective: to create a new doctoring profession built on an enriched training curriculum. (HJ 2008;61:Supplement; Feedback 2004;15:13.) How do we continue this transformation, maintain professional momentum, and ensure that today's audiologists continue to offer the best care to their patients?
The Salus University George S. Osborne College of Audiology in Elkins Park, PA, is introducing advanced studies certificate programs to enhance audiologists' performance levels. These will embrace the expanding scope of practice in audiology specialties, improve scientific and clinical rigor, assist audiology in meeting the global demand of delivering quality clinical services, and promote interdisciplinary diagnosis, treatment, and management of patients. Last year the college offered an advanced study program in cochlear implants, and will offer it again this year along with two new programs: tinnitus management and vestibular sciences and disorders.
The curriculum is built on biomedical science and hearing science, with a framework of clinical audiology for diagnostic services and rehabilitative services, and closes with an assessment of professional and public health issues, including international perspectives. Evidence-based standards drive the program, and the clinical application courses include human behavioral considerations as well as physiological and technological considerations.
The advanced studies certificate programs are taught online in an asynchronous mode to accommodate international faculty and working students using a worldwide platform with round-the-clock support. Each program has unique requirements based on the specialty's educational needs and professional demands. The cochlear implant program, for example, has six six-week courses, a total of 40 weeks of study. The vestibular disorders and tinnitus management programs will follow similar formats.
We hope that these courses bridge the knowledge gap by providing didactic fellowships to audiologists in the absence of true fellowships for specialty study in audiology. This milestone will ensure continued delivery of quality healthcare combined with specialty recognition.