Connectivity, Culture, Community...CONFERENCE - Interview with AAA 2023 + HearTECH Expo Chair, Dr. Brenna Carroll

Every annual AAA gathering takes place in a different location, and the chairing of the event changes hands too, typrically passing to a native figure from audiology. In 2023, Dr. Brenna Carroll has that honour. She tells Audiology Worldnews about the event’s key aims, and her love for Seattle.

Published on 18 April 2023

Connectivity, Culture, Community…CONFERENCE – Interview with AAA 2023 + HearTECH Expo Chair, Dr. Brenna Carroll

Audiology Worldnews (AWN): Dr. Carroll, this year, you underline for the AAA Annual Conference that “There is no substitute for meeting in person…” Many of us still feel that there is a COVID-19 shadow over in-person events. Will this Seattle meeting finally disperse the fear and restrictions we have lived through, or is the full international flavour of past meetings something we are going to have to wait to recover?

Dr. Brenna Carroll (BC): There is no denying that COVID-19 has changed the world, and we are adapting to an international landscape in which recurring outbreaks are a reality. Our post-pandemic conferences have a new identity in response to our new world. The pandemic gave us an opportunity to reflect on what we hold most important, both in terms of our personal and professional lives. Human connection was an overriding theme as many of us experienced lockdowns and limited in-person interactions.

Attendees have frequently cited that they missed the organic conversation and learning that occurs with in-person interaction. In response, we have made a concerted effort to provide opportunities for interaction beyond academic programming with specialty networking sessions, small round-table group discussions, lounge areas and some fun social events including a wine and cheese hour, a night at the Museum of Pop Culture, and a closing general session to bring attendees back together with stand-up comedian D.J. Demers.


AWN: The Conference kicks off with a motivational speaker, J. Israel Greene, addressing social and cultural issues. How does this presentation fit into the Academy’s recent focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging?

BC: The American Academy of Audiology is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). The events of the past few years and the Black Lives Matter movement have challenged each of us to take an introspective look at ourselves, our institutions and our professions and ask ourselves how we can do better and be better for our patients and our communities.

Keynote speaker J. Israel Greene is renowned for his engaging style, and I look forward to learning how not only the Academy, but also attendees, can apply practices that lead to permanent changes supporting diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Sessions and presenters at AAA 2023+HearTECH Expo reflect a wide range of experiences and backgrounds, and I look forward to seeing new speakers and DEIB topics expand at future conferences.


AWN: In terms of the educational programme of AAA 2023+HearTECH Expo, the practical focus of past conferences is still there, as well as more in-depth sessions. Is there any particular emphasis in 2023 that may not be apparent from skimming the schedule?

BC: Yes! There are so many unique learning opportunities that it is difficult to highlight just a few. We are very excited to offer our new Best Practices Accessibility Pavilion this year. This area provides attendees hands-on experience with a variety of assistive technologies to enhance listening experiences in a variety of settings. The world of assistive listening devices is always adapting as new technological breakthroughs occur. Additionally, there are featured sessions focusing on the future of rehabilitation and treatment through gene therapy and an interactive session with strategies to upgrade your leadership abilities led by career development specialists.

We also focused on enlisting the expertise of a variety of healthcare professionals to serve as presenters on the program to demonstrate the interconnectivity between audiology and other disciplines. The conference will offer high-level content and information that can be applied immediately in any professional setting.



AWN: Both science and the market bring about changes in audiology that, in the internet age, now sweep the world in an instant. How are challenges shifting for those groups, such as the the Academy, who seek to guide and protect the professional? And what are the main areas of the 2023 program looking to help Academy members over transitions in the profession over the next two or three years?

BC: As you point out, audiology evolves rapidly. The Academy seeks to be nimble and provide tools and resources for audiology in an ever-evolving profession. Updates on the Academy’s legislative and advocacy activities will be provided in addition to multiple sessions focused on providing content related to the changing landscape. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids has been a very hot topic in the audiology community. Sessions providing assistance on the role the audiologist can fill in this model will be provided. The terrain of coding and reimbursement is always changing, and this is particularly relevant this year with Medicare’s new AB modifier that allows patients direct access for diagnostic testing under specific conditions. A variety of sessions, including a featured session led by our Coding and Reimbursement Committee and a grand rounds-style session on billing and payment updates and issues are a key feature of this year’s conference.


AWN: What other challenges have organisers and programmers faced this year?

BC: One of the biggest challenges has been developing a budget-friendly program while maintaining a robust selection that has something of interest for audiologists from a wide range of professional backgrounds. We are very mindful that the economic forecast is more subdued than it has been in past years. Many professionals have seen travel and education budgets reduced or eliminated. We seek to provide an exceptional experience while being cognizant of challenges related to time out of the office and travel. We appreciate that attendees are pausing busy lives to attend. The program is designed to offer an educational, worthwhile and fun experience.


AWN: How has your own background prepared you to take on the responsibility of steering the USA’s biggest audiology event?

BC: While I have been an active volunteer within the Academy throughout my career, professionally I am a practising clinical audiologist and face the same challenges and frustrations that many of my colleague’s experience. The economic impact of practising in a world recovering from a pandemic is unprecedented, and we can learn from each other as we navigate the path forward. The conference agenda reflects the education to assist us as we forge ahead. Seattle is also my hometown, and I am excited to showcase the innovation that makes the city a technological hub, in addition to the interesting sights and activities that make it a tourist destination. It is a beautiful and fascinating city and there is a lot to keep visitors entertained.

Source: Audiology Worldnews Spring special magazine: AAA Conference


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