When I was in graduate school, I made a promise to myself that I would always make time for the American Academy of Audiology’s annual conference, AudiologyNOW! as a professional. I would commit to, every year, taking the time and money to trek to San Diego, Dallas or Chicago (admittedly an easy one) to attend days of lectures, workshops and research conferences. As a second, third, then finally fourth year AuD student I was fortunate enough to attend AudiologyNOW! at all three of these wonderful locations. Attending these conferences, in addition to my schoolwork, let me soak in until I was saturated all things hearing and balance related; I ate meals with my laptop open, surfing audiology resources such as Audiology Online, went to bed way to late reading JAAA articles, and rattled on way to much to my fiance (now husband) about what I was learning in my classes and clinic. And then….nothing. Work, and then life, took over, and for a brief period I felt myself becoming unable to tap into the joy and nerdiness we all feel when it comes to audiology. I sincerely missed the environment of academia, of attending a gathering with several thousand of my like-minded colleagues for a few days of learning. Not to mention I also missed the Continuing Education Credits that attending these sessions would provide as I was now a practicing clinician. I eventually even started to miss the joy of my profession, and I honestly wondered for a time if I wanted to be an audiologist at all.
While May is Better Hearing Month, I can absolutely say that one of the pillars of this awareness month is education. While undoubtedly the focus is about awareness to the general public about hearing related disorders and treatment options, without continually bettering ourselves from an academic standpoint, how can we say we are doing the best to serve our patients? How can we stay on top of new technologies to help them navigate their hearing or balance disorder, utilize new research theories for treatment, or discover new counseling methods without continuing to seek out new educational opportunities for ourselves?
It’s also probably safe to say that leaving a family or work for several days may be logistically, if not financially, difficult for many of us. I am fortunate to work in an environment where I am always afforded opportunities to learn about the latest technology or research, however I still find myself sometimes yearning for the days when I attended lectures and classes as a participant. At Audiology Systems, we have several one-day course offerings for educational opportunities, from everything to hearing aid fitting seminars with Gus Mueller, workshops at our North American HQ on VNG, EP or Impulse testing or a vestibular master class held in conjunction with John Hopkins University. And while I would love for everyone to travel to Chicago and meet us at one of our in-house workshops, if you need something located more regionally many, if not all, of the major hearing aid manufactures also provide CEU events. And the educational opportunities don’t stop with industry only events. The University of Iowa hosts a tinnitus conference every year. The American Cochlear Implant Alliance hosts a pediatric CI conference annually, and the Vestibular Association of America (VEDA) promotes several vestibular conferences every year, to name a few. States across the country host state academy of audiology conferences, and AAA has an Academy Meetings & Events page where in-person educational opportunities are listed.
There is something special about being surrounded by your peers while taking in an event that leaves you feeling brain-drained yet rejuvenated to be in the field of audiology. However, there is also something to be said about getting new educational experience from any means necessary, whether it be via a lecture attended by thousands, reading a journal article over lunch, or taking an online CEU course from Audiology Online at 11pm once the kids are asleep. Let’s just get excited about our profession not just this month, but every month, because as we all know excitement (and nerdiness) can be contagious.