Interview with Elizabeth Midgley, chair of the British Society of Audiology

BSA

Elizabeth Midgley, BSA
Photo: DDI

Elizabeth Midgley took over as Chair of the British Society of Audiology in June 2016, so she is nearing the end of her two-year term of office. During her time as Chair, the society has marked a significant milestone − celebrating 50 years − and held their first e-Conference at the end of 2017. There have been many other challenges and successes in that time, which Liz shares with Audio Infos UK.

Audio Infos: Which qualification and career path did you take?

Elizabeth Midgley: I completed a BSc in Physiology and Pharmacology then an MSc in Audiology, both from Manchester University. I started work as a Research Assistant in audiology at Manchester University in 1980. I then spent 10 years as an Audiological Scientist in the paediatric audiology service in Bristol, the last five were in a part time capacity. In August 1992, I was appointed Head of paediatric audiology in Bristol, the role I currently fulfil.

AI: Why did you choose to work in the audiology profession? Was there a specific event or person that inspired you to take this path?

EM: I wanted to work with people and was looking for further training after my first degree. Audiology was first in the book I was looking at! Also, my mother-in-law was an audiologist so I knew it was an interesting career.

AI: You are currently Chair of the British Society of Audiology. What attracted you to the BSA organisation and what motivated you to put yourself forward for the role?

EM: I’ve always been a member of the BSA since I graduated in audiology. It has always been the organisation to belong to for keeping up to date with current best practice and good learning events.

I didn’t put myself forward for the role of Chair! I was asked to take on the role of vice chair and I believe that others would have been asked prior to myself! There were no takers at the time as the BSA was going through a low patch. I didn’t say no as I believe that the BSA is a very important organisation. BSA best practice guidelines are used and quoted world-wide and if the BSA didn’t exist who would write these guidelines?

The BSA is also the only organisation in audiology with members from all professions in audiology. Therefore, I agreed to take up the role of vice chair (VC) and the VC automatically becomes the chair after two years in the post.

AI: What challenges have you faced in this role?

EM: A steep learning curve, learning all about the various organisations and people involved in the wider field of audiology. Finding the time to carry out BSA duties as well as the day job.

AI: How do you combine your day job with your BSA role?

EM: A while ago my manager agreed to me working my full-time hours in four long days to enable me to have a day off each week. Whilst I’ve been involved in BSA I’ve carried on working for five long days so I can spend some time on BSA work and the day job doesn’t lose out.

AI: Can you tell us about some of the initiatives you have worked on?

EM: Continuing the modernisation of the BSA. Working with the BSA action plan. Two annual conferences in Coventry and Harrogate. Addressing financial challenges. Addressing the challenges of the Operations Manager leaving for new roles.

AI: What are you most proud of during your time as chair?

EM: Working with a lovely team of officers and council members in taking the BSA forward into a modern era. The BSA was, I think, regarded as rather an outdated organisation but the reputation of the BSA is now much more vibrant and modern. There is also a highly regarded team of people to take the work of the BSA forward into the future when I step down as chair so hopefully the future of the BSA is strong and assured.

AI: Have any women, or men, been an inspiration to you during your time in audiology?

EM: My guru in paediatric audiology has always been Barry McCormick. I always found/find the lectures of Pat Chute and Carol Flexor inspirational.

AI What advice would you give to the next generation of graduates entering the audiology profession?

EM:

  • Whatever age of clients you are helping remember that you can make a huge difference to their lives.
  • Remember that behind every statistic (about targets or waiting lists etc) there are people with lives and families. They are not just statistics.
  • Take every learning opportunity made available to you so you can discuss issues on equal terms with colleagues e.g. in ENT.
  • Make sure your practice is as evidence-based as possible. Don’t do something just because “it’s always been done like that round here” or someone tells you to! Question things, think about things, look at the evidence…

Representing all disciplines

Elizabeth Midgley is the fifth female Chair in the 50-year history of the BSA; following in the footsteps of Val Cleaver, Peggy Chalmers, Linda Luxon and Rosalyn Davies. She combines this role with being Head of Children’s Audiology in the Regional Specialist Children’s Hospital in Bristol and Team Leader for the Avon Newborn Hearing Screening Programme. She has always worked as part of multi-disciplinary teams with Audiologists, Clinical Scientists, Paediatricians, ENT doctors, Teachers of the Deaf, Educational Audiologists and Speech and Language Therapists.

Each of those specialisms has its own professional body but the British Society of Audiology is the only society that has members from all the disciplines involved in Adult and Paediatric Audiology. Liz is contributing her experience of working with many different professionals in audiology to further the work of the Society in clinical standards, evidencebased practice and academic achievement.

Read this article on Audio Infos UK #118 (free flipbook on our library) here.

Victoria Adshead, editor-in-chief of Audio Infos United Kingdom