How to accomplish financial planning, deal with sound sensitivity, and market a practice are just a few of the topics that will be covered at AudiologyNOW! 2015, the American Academy of Audiology (AAA)’s annual convention, which will be held March 25-28 in San Antonio, TX. The four-day conference offers educational sessions, mix-and-mingle events, fairs, and the Audiology Solutions exhibit hall.
This year's meeting, themed Steer with Success, is designed to provide attendees with a range of opportunities to learn, socialize, and network.
There also will be two full-day conferences on March 25: the Academy Research Conference (ARC) and the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) Conference.
This year's ARC focuses on vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, with speakers from around the world.
The third annual SAA Conference will focus on clinical decision making through the use of case studies and a problem-solving format. Topics include tinnitus management, adult and pediatric diagnostics, aural rehabilitation, auditory processing disorders, and cochlear implants.
THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Natalie Phillips, AuD, an audiologist with Advanced Otolaryngology and Audiology in Fort Collins, CO, will be giving presentations at AudiologyNOW! on tinnitus and sound sensitivity, women in audiology, and social media. In fact, none of these talks would be happening without social media, she said.
“Reaching out and networking on social media helped me start a group called Women Unite,” with seminars focusing on networking, mentoring, professional image, confidence, and negotiation, all geared toward women in audiology.
“We started a Facebook community, and we began posting different things and getting people involved,” Dr. Phillips said. “Without social media and tweeting, there's no way we would've been able to make up this Women Unite.”
Dr. Phillips also used social media to get in touch with tinnitus gurus for her learning lab on the condition and sound sensitivity, she said.
During the full-day, Tier 1 credit lab on Wednesday, March 25, Douglas L. Beck, AuD, of Oticon; Pawel Jastreboff, PhD, ScD, MBA, of Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta; Robert W. Sweetow, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco; and Dr. Phillips will discuss current research, treatments for sound sensitivity and misophonia, cognitive behavioral therapy and counseling, case studies, and tinnitus clinic setup.
In terms of her session with Cory D. Workman, AuD, of Colorado West Otolaryngologists in Grand Junction, CO, on How to Become a Superhero of Social Media, Dr. Phillips hopes attendees will become comfortable with social media and apply what they learned when they return home, she said. The session will be held Thursday, March 26, in the afternoon.
“We'll have our computers up and running, and show people how easy it is to post in one site and make it go to another, or give ideas of what to do on a daily basis for social media,” Dr. Phillips said. “It doesn't take that long to post something and get people engaged.”
FOCUS ON CONFIDENCE
In addition to Dr. Phillips, D'Anne Rudden, AuD, of Longmont Hearing & Tinnitus Center in Longmont, CO; A.U. Bankaitis, PhD, of Oaktree Products in Chesterfield, MO; Tiffany Brown, AuD, of Widex USA; and Gyl Kasewurm, AuD, of Professional Hearing Services in Saint Joseph, MI, will also be presenting during the Women Unite session on the afternoon of Friday, March 27.
Each of the five participants will speak for about 10 to 12 minutes in a Ted Talk format, covering a different content area and offering short anecdotes, Dr. Rudden said. Nonprofit TED is known for its short, powerful talks that spread ideas.
Women Unite aims to give attendees, both men and women, information on how to do an elevator speech, which is a quick speech promoting an idea, business, or individual; maintain a professional image; and mentor, among other tips.
“My focus is on confidence and helping people understand why, when we look at what holds women back from being successful or achieving what they want to achieve in life, it tends to be a lack of confidence, rather than a lack of skill or a lack of knowledge,” Dr. Rudden said.
Dr. Rudden is also contributing to a half-day lab, New and Unique Tools to Build Your Practice, the morning of Wednesday, March 25, during which she'll discuss social media, focusing on why practices should want to use social media in business marketing and outreach, and how to take social media out of the abstract realm and make the platforms more concrete, she said.
“If you're currently using those formats, how can you maximize them? And if you're not using them, what's holding you back? What is it that we can give you so that you can go back on Monday morning and say, ‘You know what, I can do this’”?
Posting to social media is about not just a practice's customers, but also those who influence the customers, a fact that providers often miss, Dr. Rudden said.
“The people who matter to your patients are on social media, and they're vetting you, whether you believe it or not, at any moment through your social media outlets and your online presence.”
Dr. Kasewurm and Karen Jacobs, AuD, of AVA Hearing Services in Grand Rapids, MI, are also participating in the session on New and Unique Tools to Build Your Practice.
TAKING A GLOBAL VIEW
Jackie Clark, PhD, a member of The Hearing Journal Editorial Advisory Board, clinical associate professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, and research scholar at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, is moderating and contributing to a two-part panel discussion about providing humanitarian audiology services in under-resourced areas on Friday, March 27.
The panelists include Ingrid K. McBride, AuD, of Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ; Debra Fried, MSc, of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and Mayflower Medical Outreach; James E. Saunders, MD, MS, of Mayflower Medical Outreach, the Coalition for Global Hearing Health, and Dartmouth–Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH; Karl R. White, PhD, of Utah State University and the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management in Logan, UT; and Patricia Castellanos de Muñoz of Centro de Audición (Hearing Center; CEDAF) and Smiles that Listen Foundation in Guatemala.
“By sharing experiences with the audience, we're hoping that they'll feel a little more empowered and a little less anxious about going and providing their services,” Dr. Clark said.
During the first part of the afternoon session, panelists will discuss the goals and missions of humanitarian hearing healthcare programs.
Dr. Clark said she will have a bank of questions for the participants to answer and discuss, and there will also be time for additional questions from the audience.
“One of the questions we'll be asking each program to prepare is, ‘How do you prepare yourself and your team for program deployment?’ and then we have, ‘What is one highlight and one disappointment you've experienced in your work?’” Dr. Clark said.
The second part of the panel will focus more on the practicalities of providing services to under-resourced areas, like how patients are selected and who pays for the services.
“We'll talk about funding and supplies, and trying to get supplies to the recipients,” Dr. Clark said. “The other big one, which is always my soapbox, is program sustainability.”
Also on March 27, there is an informal lunchtime gathering about humanitarian audiology. Participants bring their meals and discuss projects for which team members are needed, equipment that is available, and other topics, Dr. Clark said.
“I talk a little bit about the origin of our group meeting, and then we have individuals talk one at a time about their individual programs. That allows a lot of folks to hear firsthand about what's going on in the world and who's a contact for these different areas.”
This informal gathering, and AudiologyNOW! in general, offer the opportunity to catch up in person with colleagues for the first time in a year, or even two or three years.
“It really does bring great joy to see these people we haven't seen for a while,” Dr. Clark said. “There are always great talks, new and unique things, and ways to stretch our brains. The one downside of all the joy is that it's exhausting!”
MEETING, AND EXCEEDING, EXPECTATIONS
Another presentation at this year's conference, Establishing Your Worth: It Is All About YOU!, focuses on how an audiologist is perceived by the patient, what patients and colleagues expect of the audiologist, and how the audiologist can stand out as a practitioner, said Paul Pessis, AuD, owner and clinical audiologist at North Shore Audio–Vestibular Lab in Highland Park, IL, who will be leading the session the afternoon of Wednesday, March 25.
“Everyone has to take complete ownership of the patient journey,” Dr. Pessis said, whether that person is a practice owner or a member of the staff.
Dr. Pessis is also moderating a learning lab featuring Alan Freint, MD, of North Shore Ear, Nose, and Throat in Highland Park, IL, called the Junction of Audiology and Medicine: The Art and Science of Being the Consummate Professional. This session, held the morning of Wednesday, March 25, will cover radiographic studies, blood tests, and otoscopy.
“We want the attendee to leave there feeling comfortable with the medical aspects of hearing loss and obtaining information that makes the audiologist more comfortable speaking with the physician community,” Dr. Pessis said.
In terms of business practices, Dr. Pessis is presenting a session with North Shore Audio–Vestibular Lab colleague Tracy Murphy, AuD, about the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) on Thursday, March 26, in the afternoon.
The session will review the new PQRS guidelines, teach participants to evaluate and select appropriate PQRS measures, and highlight misperceptions about the program and common reporting mistakes.
One general suggestion Dr. Pessis has for AudiologyNOW! 2015 attendees is to take a course or two on topics outside the attendee's daily diagnostic and rehabilitative work, he said.
“It's important to garner knowledge of what other people are doing. Remember, we need to refer, and it's the information gained in these types of sessions that enhances our value to the patient because we understand the contemporary picture of things that we don't necessarily do every day.”