Although there have been many efforts in the past to make recommendations on what the AuD externship and application process should look like, it continues to be frustrating and somewhat mysterious for many students. The large variations in all aspects of the externship process have gained national attention in more recent years, but often leave students out of the conversation. As students are major stakeholders in audiology education and the AuD externship, the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) sought to investigate multiple aspects of the externship process by surveying current students, externs, and new professionals regarding their experiences.
An online survey was sent via email to current national SAA members and American Academy of Audiology (AAA) new professionals. In order to give access to those who are not national SAA members, this survey was also disseminated using SAA’s social media platforms and monthly update emails sent to local SAA chapters. In addition to externships, the survey covered other topics such as: 1) education related to the expanding scope of the profession (i. e. medical imaging, pharmacology, cognitive decline, and practice management); 2) preparation for clinical practice; 3) supervision of audiology students; and 4) student finances.
Results of particular interest were discovered in responses related to the externship application process. Specifically, survey respondents were asked to select factors that caused them to feel pressure when accepting an externship offer. The following list of options was provided:
- Your university
- An externship site
- Fear of not receiving another offer
- I felt no pressure
- Other, please specify.
Roughly half of respondents (48.8%) reported that they felt pressure out of fear of not receiving another externship offer. Approximately 15% and 16% of students felt pressure from their university and an externship site, respectively. Additionally, a few students left comments explaining that their university required them to accept the first externship offer. These results suggest that a universal timeline for AuD externships would help to decrease some of the stress and anxiety related to this process.
These results provide additional support for findings from the SAA’s 2015 externship survey in which more than 70% of respondents indicated that they would have benefitted from a more uniform application process and they would like to have a more centralized application process for externships. Over 80% of respondents to the 2015 survey indicated that variability in application timelines between sites affected their application process and more than 70% of those surveyed indicated that the lack of uniformity was the greatest weakness of the externship application process. The results of this survey indicate that the student respondents were overwhelmingly more concerned with the lack of uniformity in the application process rather than other major factors in the AuD externship, including the availability of funding and standards for clinical experience.
AAA last issued guidance on the AuD externship in 2006, publishing both “Clinical Education Guidelines for Audiology Externships” and a suggested timeline for 12-month externships. The profession of audiology has grown since 2006, when the AuD was in its infancy, and based upon the results of these surveys and recent national symposia on the AuD externship, perhaps it is time for AAA to revisit these guidelines. Students have indicated an interest in improving AuD education as well as the externship and the SAA is prepared to continue fiercely advocating for students as this conversation continues.
For more information and to join the conversation, check out our podium presentation Get Schooled! Results from the 2018 Education & Externship Survey at this upcoming AAA conference in Columbus, OH on Thursday, March 28 at 4:30 PM. For SAA members interested in getting involved, be sure to volunteer for the SAA’s newly-formed Education committee using the volunteer application on the Audiology Community!
Jessica Lewis is a third-year AuD/PhD candidate at The Ohio State University. She is the current chair of SAA’s Education & Externship Task Force as well as Vice President of her local SAA chapter. Her research and clinical interests include adult cochlear implant users and listening effort.
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