E for Education, Experience... and Erin Miller, AAA Program Chair


Columbus skyline
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How do you make organizing the program for the "largest gathering of audiologists in the world" sound easy? Its Chair, Erin Miller, a vastly experienced audiologist and academic, former president of the AAA (2014-15), and self-confessed lover of conferences, told Audiology Worldnews how she relaxed into the role and could not have been happier to see the Academy's annual event held in her own backyard of Ohio.

Events the size of the "Best of Audiology" AAA annual conference need to book their venues years ahead. Erin Miller got the news well in time.

“When I knew that the event was going to be in Columbus, I just said that would be really neat, since I live in the state and I think that Columbus is a great venue, an inexpensive city to come to in terms of hotel costs, easily walkable, a vibrant city that continues to grow with outstanding restaurants, microbreweries, a world class zoo and science center, and one of the top ranked professional hockey teams, the Columbus Blue jackets.

And Ohio itself is also steeped in audiology. As a professor of instruction at the University of Akron’s School of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, Dr. Miller knows the hearing landscape well. “There are actually seven AAA presidents who lived in Ohio during their presidency,” she points out.

Erin Miller AAA Program Chair

“There are over a thousand licensed audiologists in our state and we have an active audiology state organization. We’ve engaged the Ohio Academy also in working with the AAA at the conference, and they’ve developed a programme on the Saturday focused towards physicians, nurse-practitioners, nurses, and non-physican providers to really help them on how we can collaborate together as healthcare professionals to provide the best outcomes,” she adds.

The industry and outside expertise

Miller’s long career in private practice, almost overtaken now by her hours in academic audiology, has informed her pragmatic view not only of the role the hearing industry should have in these annual conference events but also of how expertise outside audiology can bring a greater skill palate to hearing professionals.

“Industry does not influence the program. From my perspective it’s a good mix. They are given opportunities, this year the exhibitor courses, and then there are productspecific industry courses. Professionals need to look at the gamut of what’s offered. I am always a skeptic; I have to see it work myself so I appreciate the work they do in their own labs but I like to see some independent research. I love that industry is part of the educational pieces, as long as they don’t influence who we have for featured speakers or learning modules or those kind of things,” states the Program Chair.

“What often happens at the conference is you have industry providing information and then independent researchers say ‘yes that feature is quite beneficial, or not’, and so as professionals we have to start making those clinical decisions,” she adds.

Non-clinical skills are a key part of this year’s new inaugural event, the Audiology Career Enhancement (ACE) Symposium. “We’re thrilled that over 120 people have already registered,” enthuses Miller. “We are bringing in an improv group that works with businesses, attorneys, and outside healthcare to focus on non-clinical skills to help audiologists grow as professionals and leaders. They really try to enhance your ability to think on your feet, so this is a hands-on opportunity I’m very excited about. We have great audiologists but I also think it’s important to learn from others.”

Read the rest of the interview on the Audiology Worldnews AAA special issue (free-access flipbook):

Follow the congress on Twitter @AudioWorldnews.

Peter Wix