As an audiology graduate student, isn’t every month Better Hearing Month? Day after day, we read the newest research articles focusing on improving patient care; we try to find new ways to make “Conditioned Play Audiometry” quick, effective, and even more fun than the last three games we tried on a stubborn four-year-old; and we work with our clinical instructors to find a way for a grandfather to sit at a family gathering and enjoy conversations despite his difficulty hearing. As health-professional students, we take pride in the knowledge and clinical applications that we have learned throughout the year. We are humble in the work we do behind the scenes each month… but May is a time for us to celebrate the successes we have had as audiologists. Whether it is part of an ENT team, in a school, in a VA, or another work setting, we are proud to facilitate the gift of better hearing, better speech, and better communication.
Within the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) Chapter at the University of Pittsburgh, we strive to continue to be involved with our patients and our greater community of the city of Pittsburgh. From volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House to hosting multiple free hearing screening opportunities for our community members, we work as a team to spread the importance beyond speech and hearing–we work to promote communication, conversation, and self-advocacy.
We continuously look for new ways to be involved in our profession as students. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask Dr. Catherine Palmer, President-Elect of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) and program director for the University of Pittsburgh, how AuD students can spread the word about Better Hearing Month. Read her response below for a fun challenge on social media as well as ways SAA chapters can take action this month:
“Typically, the month is celebrated with either hearing screenings or promotion of hearing protection, both worthy causes. I think students could have more fun with this and reach a broader audience using social media. Issuing a “hearing protection challenge” where individuals could capture and post (tweet) pictures of people using hearing protection could raise awareness. Or even sending favorite hearing protection pictures (mine is Drew Brees’s baby wearing headphones when the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl!). The various SAA local chapters also could challenge each other to create local hearing screening or hearing protection promotion programs. This might be a fun contest to see who reaches the most people, has the most impact, is the most creative, and much more.”
Though I live in Pittsburgh now, in my opinion, the Philadelphia Eagles (Go Birds! Super Bowl Champs! Oh, we weren’t champs this year? But remember when we were?) and Nick Foles with his daughter is the best hearing protection picture. His little girl with her pink headphones and NFL jean jacket stole the hearts of football fans everywhere – and also promoted the importance of hearing protection in loud stadium celebrations.
As a motivated audiology student, I recommend honing in on the passion of your own student organization. This month is all about promoting hearing and speech in a way that is meaningful to you as a student, your profession, and most importantly, your community. Take time to reflect on events you have been involved in in the past. Can you grow them to be even bigger this month? If planning and resources are tight or you do not know where to begin, AAA and its members have come together to create a plethora of resources for you through the which can be found here.
This month, I challenge you to find ways to support, promote, and celebrate Better Hearing Month. With your classmates, professors, and clinical instructors, you can find small ways to make a big impact in your community.
“But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” –Mother Teresa
Jenna Loffredo is about to start her fourth year externship at Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE. She just wrapped up her year as the President for the University of Pittsburgh SAA chapter and currently is the state representative for Pennsylvania. Her audiology interests include pediatrics–specifically educational audiology. When she isn’t in classes or clinic, Jenna loves to cook, read, and take long walks with her recently adopted German Shepherd. This proud Penn Stater from outside of Philadelphia can’t wait to begin her externship year and apply all that she has learned from Pitt through her clinical experiences, classroom experiences, and LEND Trainee experiences.
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