PhD Spotlight: Anna Marie Jilla, AuD
Anna Marie Jilla, AuD
Laboratory Manager, Graduate Research Assistant, PhD Student (expected, 2019)
Hearing Evaluation, Rehabilitation, and Outcomes (HERO) Laboratory
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
1. Can you tell us a bit about your educational and clinical background?
I actually came to audiology in a rather untraditional fashion. I previously studied modern languages and worked part-time in an audiologist’s office during the majority of my time as an undergrad and master’s student. It was through that work experience that I became acquainted with the art of helping people become better listeners. I was always interested in the more human aspects of audiology (i.e., counseling, rehabilitation, and patient-centered approaches to care) and decided to pursue the AuD/PhD option to satisfy my desires for both clinical practice and research. It wasn’t until my fourth-year externship that I truly realized the extent to which vestibular assessment, treatment, and management required great skill in audiologic counseling. Accordingly, counseling those with vestibular disorders has also become a keen clinical and research interest for me.
2. Where are you currently pursuing your PhD, and what is your topic of research?
I am currently at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in the AuD/PhD program. Our program allows for completion of the AuD in a lock-step fashion where you complete the clinical degree with your cohort. Interspersion of PhD coursework throughout the AuD is strongly encouraged and students return to finish the PhD requirements after completion of the AuD.
As part of the educational journey of the PhD, I am required to demonstrate expertise in several areas. For me, some of these include health-related quality of life benefits from hearing technology, counseling those with auditory and vestibular disorders, as well as assessment of counseling competency in audiology.
3. Who did you pick as a mentor and what was that process like?
Choosing my mentor was perhaps one of the easiest things in my academic journey. My mentor and I began our work together years before I entered into the AuD/PhD program at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Dr. Carole E. Johnson has dedicated much of her research career to outcome measures, counseling, rehabilitation and patient-centered care in audiology, and also has formal academic training in psychology. It was very easy for us to work together in our common research ground in the Hearing Evaluation, Rehabilitation, and Outcomes (HERO) Laboratory. She has also been a wonderful mentor and extraordinary student advocate. These are two qualities that I greatly admire about her and find necessary for the success of any PhD student.
4. How did you decide what your area of interest was?
As for many AuD/PhD students, clinical experiences have helped to mold my research interests. I have always seen counseling and patient-centered care as integral components of audiology. Clinical exposure has also helped solidify my love for these research areas and better inform research questions that are in need of expanded scientific inquiry.
5. What career path do you hope to take after you complete your PhD?
I see myself in a clinical practice scenario that also offers opportunities for engaging in research.
6. What advice might you give to students interested in pursuing a PhD?
Less than 2% of the US population has a PhD. There are reasons for that. Among those, it’s not easy and it’s a long journey. In essence, you are entering into a lifelong commitment with the profession and are tasked with furthering its research. So, my advice is pretty simple: explore and understand your motivations and intentions with pursuing the degree and above all, have a profound love for your area of interest. These are the things that will drive you, not only through the completion of the PhD, but for the rest of your professional career.