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Let Me Hear from You

Let Me Hear from You

Securing Our Preferred Future…Collectively

As I reflect on the Academy's 25-year history, we've certainly made lots of progress with regard to professional education programs in audiology. After more than a decade of change, the profession has now successfully transitioned to a doctoral-level degree. So why is it important for audiology to continue its focus on education? Ensuring that audiologists are recognized as the preferred providers for hearing and balance care still hangs in the balance, and our educational programs will help tip the scale. If true, professional autonomy is ever to be a realistic goal, every pathway to that end is predicated on quality education and training standards consistently adhered to by all AuD programs.

What's at stake? If we do nothing to protect our scope of practice and the educational standards foundational to it, our profession is at serious risk for encroachment by other health-care professionals. Quality education standards are inherent tenants of each of audiology's preferred futures and foundational to the profession itself. Such standards, independently developed and implemented by audiologists, are the first line of defense for our profession on many fronts, and affect every audiologist. Professional standards directly affect AuD students during their academic coursework and externships. They also impact practicing audiologists by facilitating advocacy efforts, achieving recognition from other health-care providers, and by influencing the efficacy and economics of performance in our respective practice settings.

Audiology is at a crossroads—we can become nothing more than doctoral technicians or be recognized as the preferred providers for hearing and balance care. But we must acknowledge that full practice authority is earned—in part by ensuring that the educational process for audiologists reflects consistently rigorous training programs. In the face of today's health-care mandates, audiologists have a unique opportunity to secure a greater measure of professional autonomy. But to succeed, we must be able to demonstrate that positioning audiologists as the preferred providers of hearing health-care services will increase accessibility and affordability within our scope of practice without sacrificing quality of care. Ensuring indisputable quality of care starts with implementation of uniform educational and training standards in our AuD programs…and that process can best be implemented by a single accreditation process that is of, by, and for audiologists…ACAE.

Let's secure our preferred future—collectively. Academy leadership and membership must work together with academia, jointly committing to the highest standards of professionalism, including the philosophical and financial requirements inherent to this commitment. Failure to make educational excellence a priority will compromise and ultimately weaken audiology, as well as its ongoing quest for autonomy.

After a decade of development and transition with regard to audiology education, changes are taking place. Stakeholders are listening, and we, in conjunction with our A4 partners, are moving in the right direction. Your Academy is working hard to promote quality education standards that will facilitate meaningful progress for our profession. As with any leadership effort, there is a human and economic "price tag" that will require sacrifice, commitment, and perseverance.

I ask you, as both an Academy and a profession, are we ready, willing, and able to affirm our educational and professional independence, commit to our own unique and innovative accreditation process, and secure our collective future?

So, what do you think? If Academy support for audiology's quest for ownership of its educational standards is important to you, let me know. As a reminder, our bylaws (Section 5.2.1) provide an opportunity for members to address the Board of Directors via Member Connect. I'd welcome your commentary via that tool, and so would your Board of Directors. If you prefer you can also email me directly. Let's secure our collective professional future by supporting quality educational standards of, by, and for audiology!