Volunteerism: come on in, the water is fine!
If you could change one thing about our profession, one thing that you thought would make the biggest overall impact, what would it be? For me, I would make it mandatory for every Au.D. program to include a course in professional advocacy during the first and second years of study. I can think of no subject of greater importance than understanding the issues in audiology that are posing the largest challenges to our present and our future. I have seen very few students, that were aware of the issues shaping the field that they are about to enter into, not wanting to put themselves in a position where they could create positive change. I think if you could instill the value of professional advocacy early in the academic process, you would graduate professionals who were passionate about advocacy, and you would see the tremendous benefits of that in a few short years. Understanding the professional issues facing our field is the first step to volunteerism, and volunteerism is how we change the trajectory of the filed in a positive and meaningful way.
There are so many different ways that you can volunteer your time and your talents. You can participate at the university SAA level, the national SAA level, in your state academy, or the Academy. Within each organization are opportunities for working groups, committees, and even micro-volunteer positions; there is a position there for you! It is important to also understand that you will receive as much or probably more benefit than you put into it. You experience so much professional growth through volunteering as well as expand your professional and personal networks. Volunteering my time has given me a much broader and optimistic view of audiology, as well as working side by side with some incredible people. It has created wonderful opportunities for me that I would not have otherwise had. Volunteering can be so self-satisfying and energizing, and allows for so much personal growth. I hope that at some point in your career, academic or professional, you give yourself the opportunity to volunteer and be a part of something bigger than yourself. You will not regret it and you will create many positive memories that will last a lifetime!
Steve Madix, PhD
Chair, Student Academy of Audiology Advisory Committee (SAAAC)