Becoming a Better Advocate
I have officially started my new practicum placement at the VA hospital in North Little Rock. This placement also doubles as my assistantship, allowing for hourly pay and, more importantly, more practicum hours. In any given week, I may log 16-20 hours of practicum, which is solid for a third-year student. I was told that I would get more amplification hours than I wanted. In my first two days alone, I participated in six hearing aid fittings, as well as multiple hearing evaluations and even an ENG.
The best part of this experience thus far has been working with the veterans and their significant others. What an honor it will be to finally give back to those who served our country so that we may live as worry-free as we do today. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. On top of the broad clinical experience and opportunity to serve veterans, I have the privilege of working with preceptors who possess character to go along with their expertise. Now it's time to walk the walk!
Unlike many of my entries, I'm not feeling particularly introspective tonight. I don't have much time to do that with coursework, projects, directed research, fourth-year externship applications (waves at potential preceptors), extra-curricular obligations, practicum/assistantship, being a good husband and, most importantly, fantasy football.
I have been thinking about how I can become a better advocate for audiology. A few weeks ago, my step-father allowed me to test his hearing at the campus clinic. He has an asymmetric mixed hearing loss, mostly due to a medical condition in his middle ear. He had been scheduled for surgery in the past, though scheduling conflicts postponed the operation. Upon seeing his results, my step-father began to ask many questions and took an interest in my profession. I found myself sputtering off sentence fragments in audiologist jargon, attempting to explain everything I have learned in the past 2-plus years. I can say with confidence that he probably did not retain all of it.
Have you run into similar situations? It can be difficult to explain what an audiologist does in concise and understandable language after being asked, "So, ya deal with hearing aids?" The term "audiology" should be synonymous with hearing healthcare in the same manner that optometry is for vision care. This is something that both professionals and students alike can do with relative ease. We should be able to answer these questions and advocate for our profession when situations arise.