"Long gone is the time when we can 'just' be good clinicians"


Eileen C. Rall, AuD
© E.R.

Eileen C. Rall, AuD, is the Program Chair for the 2018 annual meeting of the American Academy of Audiology. She introduces here this year's AAA, a gathering full of news, learning, exchange, entertainment and, of course, music!

Welcoming thousands of my colleagues to Nashville this April as program chair For the 30th annual meeting of the American Academy of Audiology will be one of the professional highlights of my career. I’ve been fortunate to attend most of the annual meetings since they began in 1989. I consistently come away with new ideas for improving my practice, new information about technologies that support patient care, and, most importantly, reconnecting or making new connections with colleagues from across the globe re-enforcing that I am part of one of the most collaborative, supportive and kindest professions there is. I am excited for the 4,000+ AAA2018 attendees to experience what the creative and talented academy staff, program committee, and hundreds of member volunteers have planned over the past 18 months.

As a profession, we owe our gratitude to Dr. Fred Bess, the Program Chair of the first annual meeting in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, as well as the other Founders of the Academy. The inspiration and leadership they have provided over the past 3 decades has supported our profession through changes in healthcare and advances in technology that we couldn’t begin to imagine at the birth of this organization. In great part, because of these gatherings we are prepared to be the innovators, caregivers and leaders in hearing and balance healthcare well into the future.

Changing names

Many have asked why we changed the name of our annual meeting. AudiologyNOW! represented an urgency for our profession to focus on the current state of best practice and technology for diagnosing and treating hearing and balance. We have come a long way over the past 3 decades in developing the knowledge and skills needed to be the primary caregivers in hearing and balance wellness. The Academy’s Board of Trustees saw the name change as both an opportunity to feature the current state of our profession, as well as a chance to position our profession, through this annual meeting, to be strategic and forward thinking. You will see this refl ected in many of the sessions and it will be highlighted in the General Assembly by our President, Jackie Clark, PhD and President-Elect, Lisa Christensen, AuD, as well as in our keynote address “A Glimpse Into the Future of Audiology and Health Care”, by Jeff Goldsmith, PhD.

Congress' highlights

By establishing the annual meeting, the Academy Founders provided a forum for audiologists to gather for continuing education and to collaborate on and debate the future of our profession. A few years ago, we introduced “The Great Debate”, which continues this year on the topic of “Medicine v. Technology – what is the future of our profession?” We have invited leaders in research whose presentations will focus on groundbreaking treatments of hearing loss in “Regeneration and Repair: The Potential for Hearing Loss Therapeutics”. Moreover, we will host innovative speakers that will challenge us to “Lead Like a Girl”, support our youngest patients with the “Thirty Million Words” Project, and examine hot topics in our profession such as “Perspectives on Over-the-Counter Devices”, “Basis for Auditory and Vestibular Features of mTBI” and “Telehealth.”

Long gone is the time when we can “just” be good clinicians. In order for our profession to move forward, we need to promote the practice of audiology to our communities and our legislators. Attendees will be able to learn more about how they can position themselves to advocate and promote our profession at the Public Relations Media Training Learning Lab and the Advocacy Workshop. For a fun way to support advocacy in Audiology, attendees can also participate in the “Pedal for the PAC”, a biking/entertainment event in downtown Nashville on Thursday evening.

Representing the best of what is currently offered and new technologies on the horizon in hearing and balance technologies, services and education, we will have over 170 organizations sharing information in the Exhibit Hall. The Hall opens with Celebrate Audiology Wednesday evening, during which exhibitor and attendees can share information in a fun and social atmosphere with food, music and drinks. The exhibit hall will be open on Thursday from 10:00am until 6:00pm and again on Friday from 9:00am until it closes at 3:00pm. Attendees can also learn from our industry partners during Exhibitor Courses and Industry updates scheduled throughout Thursday and Friday.

Lots of things to do in Nashville

In addition to learning from our talented line up of speakers/ presenters and exhibitors, we hope that attendees will take advantage of the many fun aspects of our host city, Nashville. Last year, our morning yoga sold out, so I would encourage those interested in starting their Friday by improving their strength and flexibility to register early for our 6:00am session. This year attendees are also invited to join an invigorating Zumba class on Saturday morning at 6:00am to get their blood pumping before the final morning of educational sessions. Along with these morning activities, there is plenty to do at the end of the day. You can have fun and fundraise at such offerings as the AAAF and SAA annual events “Happy Hour and a Half” and “Cheers for Ears.” A highlight of this year’s social events in the 30th Anniversary Celebration at the WildHorse Saloon where attendees will enjoy great music, line dance lessons, and socializing with colleagues.

No doubt one of the main reasons for the popularity of AAA2018 is the fabulous destination of Nashville, Tennessee. After experiencing all we’ve put together for attendees from April 18th through 21st, our hope is that everyone comes away from the meeting with more than just new knowledge that will improve their practice. We hope our attendees leave Nashville inspired by the wisdom of our leaders past and present, and motivated by the passion and enthusiasm of our new and future colleagues. Our goal is that attendees appreciate the value of being an active participant in the largest gathering of, by, and for audiologists and, that regardless of where we assemble, the annual meeting of The American Academy of Audiology becomes the destination.

Read this article on the AAA special AWN issue (flipbook):

And follow the congress on Twitter @Audioworldnews.

Eileen C. Rall, AuD, has been an audiologist at The Center for Childhood Communication (CCC) at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) since 1995. She received her M.S. from Vanderbilt University in 1987 and an Au.D. from the CMU/ VUBWC distance learning program in December, 2004. Along with clinical responsibilities, Eileen coordinates the multidisciplinary services for children with hearing loss offered through the CCC. In addition to working at CHOP, Eileen is the Development Chair for the Board of Trustees of The American Academy of Audiology Foundation and is the Program Chair for the 2018 annual meeting of the American Academy of Audiology. Eileen currently participates in all aspects of patient care within the department but has a special interest in pediatric amplification and supporting psychosocial development of children with hearing loss.

Eileen C. Rall