You may have heard about the new SAA Education and Externship Task Force, a group that recently presented at AAA 2019! They discussed results from the Education and Externship (E&E) Survey that was completed by AuD students, externs, and new professionals in the fall of 2018. Their ultimate goal is to provide a data-driven student perspective on audiology education.
Expanding our knowledge has become increasingly important as the demands placed on audiologists continue to change. The E&E Survey highlighted areas that included pharmacology, medical imaging, and cognitive decline. It was not surprising that students with a dedicated class for those topics reported having significantly more knowledge than students who do not have these dedicated classes. Understanding how these topics are relevant to audiology may help guide future curriculums in audiology programs across the country.
Pharmacology: Currently, audiologists have some knowledge about ototoxic medications and our scope of practice includes performing ototoxic audiologic monitoring. More research is being performed on pharmaceutical agents that cause hearing loss, and likewise, which agents could be used to treat hearing loss. As audiologists are the leaders for treating hearing loss, we will have to understand the candidacy and outcomes of these solutions.
Medical Imaging: Currently, audiologists may have access to imaging including computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). At this point, we rely on the radiologist’s or physician’s report for interpretation of these images. Likely, audiologists who work with cochlear implant (CI) patients have knowledge about the types of imaging that are required pre- and post- implantation and which internal devices are MRI compatible. Patients will often turn to the audiologist on their CI team to answer these questions. In the future, understanding and interpreting medical imaging can aid audiologists in differential diagnosis for complex cases and answer patient questions confidently.
Cognitive Decline: Currently, audiologists are aware of the correlation between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Some audiologists are beginning to include cognition screenings as we may be the first practitioner to notice signs of decline (e.g., memory loss or dementia). Patient- and family- centered care is being instituted at medical practices nationwide. The demand for cognitive screening and intervention is growing and audiologists will have to learn and understand how that relates to hearing healthcare.
It is critical for students to be involved in committees and task forces that explore the audiologist’s role in healthcare and/or the expansion of our scope of practice. Members of the E&E Task Force sit as student liaisons on educationally-focused committees such as American Board of Audiology, Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education, and Academic Programs Committee. If shaping the future of audiology education excites you, apply to volunteer for the SAA on the audiology community! Applications close June 1, 2019!
Samantha Ramirez, Au.D. is a new graduate from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. She will complete her externship at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California in June of 2019. She has enjoyed her time serving national SAA as a student, and highly encourages current students to get involved!
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