The American Academy of Audiology’s (AAA) Annual Conference is the largest gathering of audiologists in the world. This year, AAA 2021 Virtual will take place on April 14-16. Throughout the conference, professionals and students alike will attend lectures, workshops, research presentations, and networking events. Traditionally, students attending the annual conference are offered unique opportunities to improve their understanding of the profession, learn about topics in audiology not often covered in university curricula, and meet with people from across the country. This year, there are two main student-focused programs: (1) Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) Conference 2021 Virtual, and (2) the SAA Virtual Education Series. This blog post will discuss the annual SAA Conference 2021 Virtual, generously sponsored by Starkey, which will take place on Wednesday, April 14 from 10:00AM – 2:30PM ET.
SAA Conference 2021 Virtual is one way the national SAA supports the student experience, and this year is no different. SAA Conference 2021 Virtual will consist of a variety of lectures on topics students report as either disciplines of interest or topics that receive little coverage during the course of their education. This year, the topics include auditory brainstem implants, pediatric vestibular testing, inpatient audiology, cochlear implants, and pharmacology/ototoxicity. Through these sessions, students will expand upon their audiology knowledge outside of the classroom. Students interested in attending the SAA Conference 2021 Virtual can add it to their existing conference registration or register for the SAA Conference 2021 Virtual separately. The cost of registration is $20 for both members and non-members.
Starkey will kick off the SAA Conference 2021 Virtual with “Engaging, Connecting, and Guiding Your Patients to Hearing Health,” presented by Andrea Hannan Dawkes, AuD. This session will focus on counseling techniques, including ways to facilitate patient-driven care, make strong recommendations for patients, and overcome patient objections. Dr. Dawkes is a member of the Education and Training team at Starkey, where she assists in the development of educational materials, leads training classes, and serves as a liaison for Starkey’s university and student initiatives.
One of the exciting lectures that is part of the SAA Conference 2021 Virtual is on auditory brainstem implants (ABIs), led by Diane Martinez, AuD. Dr. Martinez is a clinical audiologist at the University of Miami (UM). She has specialized training and education on cochlear implantation including evaluation and treatment of adult Spanish-speaking cochlear implant candidates and recipients. Her lecture will focus on UM’s comprehensive ABI program, developed in 2019, and aims to better serve their patients with NF2. Her impact can be best summed by this quote from her:
“It’s so amazing to be a part of something larger than yourself, in all areas of audiology, but especially when dealing with ABI patients. Collectively, the multidisciplinary team helps to provide the patient with one more chance at maintaining an auditory connection to their world.”
Additionally, Melissa Caine, AuD, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Violette Lavender, AuD, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, will present on pediatric vestibular testing. Vestibular testing is always a hot topic for audiology students, but we rarely have access to pediatric patients. However, with certain accommodations, a full vestibular test battery can be completed with pediatric patients, even those as young as two or three years old. Drs. Caine’s and Lavender’s expertise as vestibular audiologists at two of the top children’s hospitals in the country is sure to help students better understand and test pediatric patients in the future. This can be evidenced by what they hope you take away:
“We hope our session provides a window into how attainable pediatric vestibular testing is with an effective set of clinical tools! When you utilize your foundational knowledge of the vestibular pathways and apply critical thinking throughout your case history, you’re already on the right path to determining a diagnosis and treatment plan for this patient population. Once you’ve established your evaluation plan, you can focus on making vestibular testing a fun and positive experience for your patients and their families.”
Another session is hosted by a group of audiologists from Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Rita Garrido, AuD, Nicole Pain, AuD, and Kristen Cortese, AuD, have dubbed themselves the “Dream Team” behind Lurie’s inpatient audiology services, which also includes its critical care unit and neonatal intensive care unit multidisciplinary teams. When asked what they are most excited to share, they said:
“We are so excited to discuss pediatric inpatient audiology and the many, many individuals that are involved in diagnosing and treating hearing loss in a pediatric hospital setting. Hearing is such an essential part of a patient’s developmental milestones and we are grateful to have such a strong multidisciplinary approach to patient care. We hope that all future pediatric audiologists will be inspired to pursue involvement on collaborative teams in their careers!”
Alongside the three aforementioned workshops, there will also be a presentation on cochlear implants led by Chelsea Conrad, AuD. Dr. Conrad currently serves as the Cochlear Implant Program Coordinator at Henry Ford Hospital, where she works with adults and children with hearing loss.
Lastly, we have a presentation on ototoxicity led by Riley DeBacker, AuD, current SAA Past-President. Dr. DeBacker is a PhD candidate at The Ohio State University and is completing his dissertation on antiretroviral ototoxicity. During his presentation on ototoxicity, Dr. DeBacker will discuss the common causes of ototoxicity, factors that can modulate ototoxic risk, and highlight the audiologist’s important role in monitoring and advocating for these patients.
Students are also invited to attend additional student virtual events throughout April, May, and June, including the annual networking session on Monday, April 12 and the annual externship panel in May. These sessions will facilitate conversations between students (non-externs and externs) and professionals from a variety of audiology disciplines, including pediatrics, vestibular audiology, implantable devices, electrophysiology, and more. Many students have previously reported that the externship panel and networking session were highlights of their conference experience. It gave them the opportunity to talk to externs and professionals from various locations and disciplines, hear more about their experiences within those specialties, and develop and nurture connections for the future. Keep an eye on SAA social media and the SAA website for additional information regarding these exciting events!
Keerthana Velappan is a fourth-year AuD student at Vanderbilt University, currently completing her externship at a university clinic and private practice in Boone, North Carolina. She serves on the SAA Programs Committee. Her audiology interests include adult diagnostics and amplification, international hearing healthcare, and patient / hearing aid accessibility needs. For questions about the SAA Conference 2021 Virtual or other student programming at AAA 2021 Virtual, email Keerthana.
Sarah Alfieri is a fourth-year AuD student at Vanderbilt University. She serves on the SAA Board of Directors as the SAA Programs Co-Chair. Her audiology interests include pediatrics, early identification and intervention, and working with children with multiple disabilities.
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