Welcome to the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) Pathways to Audiology Interview Series! While many audiologists come from a Communication Science Disorders (CSD) background, others have taken different pathways to the field. In this series, the SAA will interview both audiologists and AuD students who have or are taking non-traditional routes into the profession of audiology.
Our first interview of the 2021-2022 term is with Dr. Yihsin Tai, PhD, AuD, CCC-A.
SAA: Could you give us a quick description of your title, where you received your Doctor of Audiology (AuD)/Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree(s), and where you currently are in the field of audiology?
Tai: I am currently an Assistant Professor of the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Ball State University. I received my AuD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and my PhD in Speech and Hearing Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
SAA: You did not originally start out in the field of Communication Science Disorders (CSD); what major/area did you choose to study in your undergraduate career?
Tai: I majored in Foreign Language and Literatures in my undergrad. Our curriculum included courses such as Introduction to Speech Science, Phonetics/Phonology, and Syntax/Morphology, so I had some exposure to communication sciences and disorders during my undergraduate degree.
SAA: What/when was your first exposure to audiology?
Tai: Since I did not take courses like Introduction to Audiology in my undergraduate degree, I would say that I did not really know what audiology was about until I was in the AuD program.
SAA: What made you enter the field of audiology?
Tai: When I was not sure where to apply for graduate school, the professor that I worked with during my undergraduate career told me that I could be a doctor after four years of training in an AuD program. I felt it was better to get a doctoral degree than a master’s degree at that time, even though it took longer to get the doctoral degree.
SAA: In your opinion, what is the most fascinating thing about audiology?
Tai: I had to take many courses about linguistics and literature in my undergraduate career due to the degree requirements. I always felt frustrated about getting the “right” answers when taking exams or writing papers for literature courses. To me, the most fascinating thing about audiology is that I get to logically figure the answers out based on the test results or based on scientific findings.
SAA: As someone from a non-CSD background, was there any difficult point in your journey of becoming an audiologist, or do you believe your background has benefitted you along the way?
Tai: As someone with a non-CSD background, I would say that the first semester of the AuD training was the most difficult because I did not know what to expect. I still remembered that I was asking a second-year AuD student what the audiogram was showing during my first clinical rotation, and she said, “You will learn about it later.” I did not realize most of my classmates have had some training about audiology before getting into the AuD program. I think having a CSD background would have made my second-year easier, but not having that background did not stop me from getting an AuD. I caught up quickly and became a TA for the Introduction to Audiology course during my second semester, even though I have never taken that course in my undergrad.
This interview with Dr. Tai was completed by Mallory Salmon, a second-year audiology student at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Mallory is a member of the SAA Communications Committee.
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