Audiology Makes Strange Bedfellows

Author: Kim Cavitt, Au.D.

Charles Dudley Warner, who was an American essayist, novelist, and friend of Mark Twain, once said, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” I believe that same saying can be applied to the profession of audiology. I believe, at times, audiology makes strange bedfellows.

I also, personally, think that is ok. No one person, association, or profession has all of the answers. In 2014, the vast majority of the hearing healthcare community, including providers, consumers, consumer advocacy groups, industry, medical societies and audiology associations, were able to put aside their differences in other areas and venues and work together to successfully advocate against the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and their desire to stop covering medically necessary auditory osseointegrated devices. This was the perfect example of what can be done when parties collaborate and work together for a common good, goal or objective.

Hearing healthcare systems within otolaryngology, audiology and hearing aid dispensing are changing rapidly, as are patient needs. Change, even in the best of circumstances, is often met with trepidation and anxiety. Factoring in some of the drastic shifts we are seeing in both the healthcare and retail arenas and you will find an environment where change is not only imminent but also necessary.

These types of environments afford entrepreneurs and innovators with extreme opportunities for growth. While some experience fear, others experience excitement at what CAN lie ahead.

I, for one, am one of those risk takers. I see amazing opportunities ahead including growth for ADA, its members and our profession—not the doom, death and destruction so frequently predicted. It was, after all, a change-oriented risk-taking spirit and vision that birthed ADA, the Au.D. movement and 18 x 18. ADA has always had a knack of being very issue driven. In other words, we can separate each professional or association issue from the other and look at each problem and opportunity with an open mind and solution.

Now is another time to start looking ahead to new opportunities. Some of those opportunities, at face value, may seem strange or risky. Believe me, back in 1988, many of our colleagues viewed the Au.D. to be strange and risky as well. Some opportunities may call for collaborations with entities who, on the surface, might appear to be a very strange bedfellow. Sometimes it is in your best interest to join hands with your arch rival to work together towards a common goal. I have seen audiologists do this time and time again on legislative fronts or against insurance companies at the state level. Heck, that’s what many of us had to do in 2014. This brings to mind another quote—an ancient proverb that goes, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Or maybe another strange bedfellow.

Always trust that, no matter what change we embrace, we at ADA will NEVER lose sight of our mission, which is the advancement of practitioner excellence, high ethical standards, professional autonomy and sound business practices in the provision of quality audiologic care.

Opportunities in audiology, just like opportunities in politics, can and should create strange bedfellows that collaborate on areas of mutual interest. This demonstrates not weakness and fear, but strength and conviction. It also illustrates maturity and thoughtfulness. My mentor taught me that if you aren’t changing you are standing still. I believe wholeheartedly in the adage. Do you?