Learn It All – Absorb It All
“I won’t use it anyways”, I said to myself in a second-year pediatric audiology course. I’m reflecting back on this now (seven years later) as I sit at the hospital and wait for my next patient, a 17 month old child, to check-in for his appointment.
In graduate school, I cared about my grades and I cared deeply for the topics that interested me most, but I can’t promise that I was fully absorbing the knowledge that I self-deemed to be “not applicable”. For my first two years in graduate school I was absolutely sure I would be a cochlear implant audiologist. By my last two years in the program I had obviously wised up enough to know that my real calling was vestibular sciences. Either way, pediatrics just was not for me.
My career so far has proven that hindsight is sharper than foresight. So where did my area of expertise land? I spend a large amount of time with hearing aid patients. I am a clinical preceptor to externs. I provide inpatient services to pediatric and adult patients and do sedated auditory brainstem response evaluations in the operating room. I have dabbled in bone conduction research. And I am currently providing temporary coverage to a heavily-pediatric based outpatient clinic. Every minute of my career has brought me joy and I am so grateful for the flexibility my audiology license provides.
My point here is this – you truly have no clue where you’ll apply your education. Maybe you’ll do exactly what you think you will for your entire career. But what if you don’t? What if you find you have another skill set, make a mid-career specialty switch, or take a new job with a different population?
Absorb it all, and use these years in school wisely. To learn more about audiology career paths, check out the SAA Blog’s “Becoming a ____ Audiologist” series or network at the AAA Annual Conference. A diverse externship experience is another way to experience different specialties. No matter how you do it, grab every opportunity to learn – whether “applicable” or not.
Sarah Ostlie, AuD, F-AAA, CCC-A
SAA Advisory Committee Chair
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