Hearing healthcare professionals were honored for their contributions to education, leadership, and advocacy during the 2014 International Hearing Society (IHS) Convention & Expo in Palm Springs, CA. The Hearing Journal presented the Joel S. Wernick Dispenser in Education Award to Douglas Lewis, JD, PhD, AuD, MBA, president and CEO of Excalibur Business Consultants.
The award is named after the late Joel S. Wernick, who held a PhD in auditory physiology from Stanford University and had been a university professor, researcher, and author.
For Dr. Lewis, healthcare is a family affair. His dad was a psychologist, and his brothers are in the pharmaceutical industry. His interest in hearing healthcare came from a love of music.
“I was looking at more of the acoustic side, being a musician and studying at recording studios,” Dr. Lewis said. “The more I did that, the more I enjoyed it on the clinical side. Then, I eventually went to school for it. I enjoy the clinic much more now, but I always knew there were other things to do.”
Dr. Lewis is a licensed audiologist in five states, and he sits on the IHS's International Institute for Hearing Instruments Studies Committee.
He's also a member of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), American Academy of Audiology (AAA), American Speech–Language–Hearing Association (ASHA), and Hearing Healthcare Alliance of Ohio (HHAO). Dr. Lewis has a PhD in health services administration and is a licensed attorney in Ohio.
“I'm interested in a lot of things,” he said. “Some of it happened by accident and just ascertaining a need. The only way you can improve is to become a content expert in as many things as you can.”
Using his nine academic degrees and multiple certifications, Dr. Lewis teaches at nine universities in the areas of healthcare administration, accounting, finance, economics, law and ethics, human resources, health law, and anatomy and physiology, among others.
“The hearing healthcare field, like everything else, is changing by the moment—the management side, the reimbursement side, the legal side,” he said. “I didn't start out with the idea of teaching, but, once I got into it, I enjoyed it. Neuroscience is a particular interest of mine.
“So many things tie into each other. People have a tendency to think hearing is just the ears, but it really isn't. The whole body is involved with the idea of hearing and receiving stimulus.”
For Dr. Lewis, receiving the Wernick award was gratifying. The recognition inspires him to do anything but slow down, he said.
“It's just the beginning—all it makes me want to do is work harder. You can never have enough education.”
ANITA L. JACKSON HONORED FOR ADVOCACY
Anita L. Jackson, MD, MPH, received the James P. Lovell Award, which recognizes advocacy work for people with hearing loss.
Dr. Jackson is Chair of the Otolaryngology Section of the National Medical Association, as well as CEO of Greater Carolina Ear, Nose, & Throat and Carolina Family & Urgent Care Center, which treat some of North Carolina's poorest residents. Drawing on her expertise in serving vulnerable populations, Dr. Jackson became one of the 18 original commission members of the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund. In this role, she also became an advocate for expanding physician assistant education.
Continuing these efforts, Dr. Jackson currently is a consultant to the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) and Morehouse School of Medicine, who are working together to improve the diversity and cultural competence of physician assistant educators and future graduates.
THOMAS HIGGINS RECOGNIZED FOR LEADERSHIP
IHS President Thomas Higgins, BC-HIS, was honored for his contributions to the advancement of hearing healthcare professionals and the provision of excellent service to people who have hearing loss with The Hearing Review Professional Leadership Award.
Before entering the field, Mr. Higgins was in the Navy, which helped make veterans’ hearing health a particular priority for him. In 1985, he started his career in hearing healthcare, learning the principles of the specialty from Associated Hearing Aid owner Bernard Bugin. Mr. Higgins later became a manager at Sears Hearing Aids, which was bought by Miracle-Ear.
After working for Miracle-Ear in a few different capacities, he founded his own practice, Advance Hearing Services, in Ramsey, NJ. Mr. Higgins became a member of IHS shortly after he entered the profession, serving as the central east coast territorial governor for two terms and president-elect in 2010.
CHAPTER OF THE YEAR
The IHS Chapter of the Year Award was presented to the Hearing Instrument Practitioners Society of British Columbia (HIPSBC).
Martin Sattler, BC-HIS, a director of HIPSBC, and Regina Ternus, the executive coordinator, accepted the award on the chapter's behalf. The award is given every year for achievement in advancing the mission and goals of the International Hearing Society.
“Each person or group that received an award did so because of the exemplary volunteerism,” said IHS Executive Director Kathleen Mennillo, MBA. “People of today are taxed by their careers and family commitments, but these folks have made it a priority to dedicate their time, talents, and spirits to make this society what it is today.”