Kaley Babich, report author Report By: Kaley Babich, Audiology Doctoral Student, 4th Year, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

‘It's often the smallest acts that make the largest impact.’ These 10 words capture the overarching theme I took away from the 2019 AuDacity Conference, coinciding with the meaning behind this year’s slogan ‘Move the Needle’. 

The conference was kicked off by Lobby Day 2019 where 175 individuals from the audiology community and all over the United States joined together on Capitol Hill to advocate for the Medicare Audiologist Access and Service Act H.R.4056/S.2446; a piece of legislation that will provide Medicare Part B beneficiaries more efficient access to hearing and balance care. Audiologists may be a small community, but this bill has potential to make a large impact as it is of grave importance to the senior patients’ we serve, the future of the audiology profession, a more efficient high-quality healthcare system, and American taxpayers alike.  

The hype of Lobby Day carried into the first keynote speaker of the conference, Dr Esther Oh, an Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center, who discussed the interrelationship between hearing loss and dementia. Dr Oh stressed that mid-life (40-50 years) is the critical time window for prevention of dementia through early treatment of known comorbidities. Audiologist’s can play a substantial role in outcome for this patient population as diagnosing and treating hearing loss early is crucial, not only for a patient’s current quality of life but their future cognitive health. 

The second keynote speaker, Jeff Weiss, President and CEO of Age of Majority, Inc., discussed the importance of targeting the active aging population when marketing hearing health care, as these active agers strive to take control of their overall health and wellness. These keynote presentations emphasised that audiologist’s have the capacity to reach and serve their patients at a younger age, enhancing their quality of life now and their overall health later.   

The Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) hosts a unique conference that always leaves audiologists feeling empowered to ‘Move the Needle’, as their mission is to support audiologists and students who desire professional autonomy in the delivery of hearing and balance care. ADA shows a continued investment in the future of audiology doctoral students as they have a yearly scholarship that provides students a stipend covering the full cost to attend the conference. AuDacity offers students the opportunity to attend educational sessions geared toward future audiologists, networking events, panels, board meetings, and social gatherings. ADA also hosts an exhibition throughout the conference during breakfast, lunch, and dinner providing the audiology community with ample networking opportunities. AuDacity truly encompasses all areas of the profession, including, best practices backed by evidence-based care, business principles, leadership, advocacy, and awareness.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there to be approximately 13,600 audiologists nationwide, although there is an estimated 48 million Americans with hearing loss according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. So, remember, it's often the smallest acts that make the largest impact, so let’s ‘Move the Needle’.