President's Message: "Are We Ready?"

Author: By Brian Urban, Au.D.

Over the last few months, I have had the good fortune to speak to and meet with audiologists and Au.D. students from across the country. It has been my pleasure to discuss the future of our profession with everyone from first-year students to those enjoying retirement. As we have all seen from the listservs, blogs, and trade journals, there are more than a few challenges today and on the horizon that will affect the way we practice. So, not surprisingly, I am often asked, what with all of these distractions, how we can expect to obtain the ambitious goals of 18x18.

Or to put it more simply... “Are we ready?”

Are we ready for direct access?

Are we ready to embrace our full scope of practice?

Are we ready for Limited License Physician status?

Were it not for the example of the Au.D. movement (and those that propelled it forward), these questions would be more difficult to answer. Thankfully those who walked before me paved the way, and to each of these questions, I can confidently say YES!

One of my greatest pleasures in giving presentations about audiology’s future is to see each audience transform from one with little knowledge of the current legislative approaches, to one unified in its expression of strong support for 18x18 and hoping to learn more about how they can get involved in the movement.

18x18 appeals to audiologists at their core as doctoring professionals, and quite often, the only lingering question at the end of the talk is to wonder why audiologists haven’t always had this recognition under Medicare—followed by the recognition that sometimes the most sensible goals take the most time and effort to achieve.

Like the Au.D. movement, 18x18 is destined to become a reality. The Au.D. movement was the launching pad for 18x18. Without it, we would not be ready. The dedication and commitment of audiologists to raise the stakes and go all in for audiology, started in 1988 at the Chicago Conference on Professional Education, hosted by ADA, and their sacrifices continue to serve as an example for us today.

This decades-long journey from the dawn of the Au.D. movement has shown us that we most certainly belong with our dentistry, optometry, podiatry, and chiropractic colleagues, defined as Limited License Physicians under Medicare. The achievement of 18x18 will not mark the end of our professional journey—nor the challenges that we face. However, 18x18 is a critical bridge that will help carry us successfully into the future, just as the Au.D. movement helped transport us to where we are today.

The game-changing sessions planned for this year’s convention in Las Vegas are a testament to just how ready we are for 18x18 and for the future of audiology that is to come. The 2014 convention program is packed with thought-provoking courses on interventional audiology, tinnitus, hearing loss and aging, alternative models of care, and so much more (click here for the full schedule)!

Colleagues, the path to true autonomy is one that is created day-by-day, person-to-person, and does not take a back seat to what may seem safe or easily attainable. Readiness is earned with each patient we see and every session we attend.

We are ready. Now, we just need to believe it.