September 2018 President's Corner
Over Labor Day weekend, I went on a long road trip and as every good millennial would do, I downloaded a podcast to help pass the time. What I listen to on the road heavily depends on the mood I’m in at that time - sometimes I listen to NPR, other times to Harry Potter commentaries. This particular road trip, I worked through all my usual genres of podcasts and music and was finally in the mood to listen to something semi-educational. My choice was an informational podcast on the “Origins of Motion Sickness.” As I’m currently in my vestibular rotation at my externship, I thought this may be the perfect topic to listen to that helps me feel like I’m being productive without actually doing anything.
So, I listened intently, ready to confirm what little vestibular knowledge I had by nodding my head as if they were waiting for my response. While I did learn some new information, such as the existence of the Sway Theory for motion sickness, there were a lot of concerning claims made. For example, the presenters compared the rotary chair to a tilt-a-whirl that “moves you around whether you like it or not.” And there is a reference to optokinetic testing, explaining it is designed to make anyone motion sick. Lastly, they mentioned that getting vestibular testing is a “terrible thing to have happen to you” and you should “run away” from being a vestibular research participant. As I was listening, I started my response sequence with shaking my head no...which turned into scoffing audibly...and finally turned into me explaining out loud my frustration.
There is so much misinformation about audiology in our world! And for me, this podcast highlighted a severe public awareness issue in regards to hearing and balance science. I’ve felt passionate about public awareness in audiology for a long time, even wrote my graduate school admission letter on it. There are so many people spreading incorrect information about audiology and the worst part is, people are believing it. This is negative news for our profession. Who would want to go to a vestibular evaluation after listening to that podcast? (Answer: not me). And even looking at a subset of the population, our patients, who are probably more knowledgeable than the average joe on the street, still ask about buying their hearing aids online and if dizziness is really associated to their ears. How do we alter the public narrative to be not only accurate and evidence-based, but also in our favor?
Here is where your challenge for this year begins: serve as an advocate for audiology.
Every single day presents an opportunity for you to educate the people around you about what you do and why it’s important. Take time to educate your patients, your friends, your family and the general public. There are no grand gestures needed in order to accomplish advocacy nor is there a specific prerequisite. Simply talk about what you do and why it’s important. Do this every day with someone new. This small daily act may be the greatest way to ensure job security for us all in the future. So, invest in yourself, invest in others and invest in the future of audiology this year. What will you do this year to alter the narrative?