President's Message: A New Year

Author: Rita Chaiken, Au.D.

In the early 80s, I accepted a position as Regional Manager for what, at the time, was a leading manufacturer of hearing aids. I came to this position from working as a public school audiologist with limited knowledge of professional organizations other than ASHA, the Georgia Speech and Language Association, and the Greater Atlanta Audiology Association. My second training assignment, before I even went “out on the road,” was to attend the Academy of Dispensing Audiologists (ADA) annual convention in Orlando, Florida. Who?!

What I was introduced to at ADA was a group of passionate, intelligent, entrepreneurial, hot tub-loving audiologists who were the renegades of their profession. They were willing to stand up and be proactive, in order to change and protect the future of audiology. They were learning from each other, sharing experiences and teaching the community of audiologists what the word “autonomous” means.

Who would have thought, so many years later, that I would be writing my first President’s message for ADA’s professional journal? But then, who would have anticipated the turns my own journey would take over the years? So much of that I truly attribute to being a member of ADA and, in particular, the people and interactions I had over the years, attending almost every ADA convention.

ADA celebrated its 39th annual meeting in Washington, DC in November. Once again, my spirit has been lifted and my excitement about the future has been renewed, just as it has after each and every ADA convention I have attended in the past. As I looked across the rooms during the many meetings, presentations, and visits to the exhibits, my own thoughts kept turning to what I personally hope our focus will be during my term as your ADA President.

First, we must enhance the education of our doctoral candidates and involvement of students in our organization. We have an amazing Virtual Student Chapter (VSC) teeming with students who are seeking our support and advice. Whether you have practiced 2 years or 30 years, there is so much you can contribute to the success of our soon-to-be Doctors of Audiology. We have worked diligently to build our practices and careers. I urge all of you to help prepare students for life after graduation by joining our mentoring program; share your knowledge and relive the excitement of beginning a future as an audiologist! If you are employed by a university, or if you are a preceptor, help open your doors to the students who crave knowledge, are willing to work hard, and desire autonomy as the framework for their future. Introduce them to ADA and, together, we can help them thrive.

Second, we need to be empowered so that we can most effectively care for our patients. While there are other important issues facing our profession and our association, The Audiology Patient Choice Act of 2015 (HR 2519) is the vehicle that will catapult us to the next level of patient care; it will be a focus of my personal agenda. How inspiring it was to be part of the largest audiology lobby group to date on November 12, 2015! More than 120 audiologists and Au.D. candidates stormed Capitol Hill to advocate on our patients’ behalf. Whether you were with us or not, the success of getting this legislation passed is in your hands. We will continue to remind you of the steps you should take to make this a reality. For more information, to donate, and to send letters to your Congressional members, go to www.18x18.com.

Third, we must embrace change. I have seen in my own career, that change meant opportunity; I just needed to be open to it. Frightening as it may be, taking risks is the way we shape our lives in profound ways. We cannot repeat actions that have not produced the expected and desired outcomes. We need to aim higher! ADA has always taken pride in the bold actions we have embraced from the past. James Bryant Conant penned: “Behold the turtle – he only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.”

I look forward to representing you this next year, and I invite you to join me in a New Year’s resolution of service! ADA offers many opportunities to make an impact on the profession and to participate in the advancement of ADA’s mission so that we as autonomous audiologists can achieve our professional goals.

On behalf of the ADA Board of Directors, I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!