This spring I attended my first American Academy of Audiology (AAA) AudiologyNOW! convention and had the opportunity to meet with many of my audiology associates. I was especially pleased to meet one of my heroes, Charles Berlin, a professor at the University of South Florida and a true leader in the profession; a new and trusted colleague, Eric Hagberg, president of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology; and fellow volunteer leaders Therese Walden, 2011–2012 AAA president, and Deborah (Deb) Carlson, then president-elect and now 2012–2013 AAA president. I enjoyed the exchange of ideas, information and insights, and Deb and I shared the mutual excitement we felt for our new roles in the year ahead. After this encounter, I invited Deb to co-author this column to continue the discourse between two volunteer leaders dedicated to working collaboratively and to keeping the lines of communication open.
The changes underway in the health care, education, and research arenas are dynamic and far-reaching. Issues such as cost containment, globalization, access to services, new technology, scope of practice, reimbursement, workload, educational costs, research productivity, and funding reductions present real and profound challenges to both audiology and speech-language pathology. These challenges require a diligent approach to advocacy on behalf of the professions in state and national political arenas. It is critical for us to articulate the value of our services and promote more effective and efficient service-delivery models for each profession.
As similar issues have in the past, new legislation, regulations, and policies exert pressure on groups such as AAA, ASHA, and related specialty organizations to speak with a unified voice. We must look to each other as we strive to be effective advocates for the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology. Although AAA and ASHA share some of the same members, we recognize that collaborations are not always easy. We acknowledge the importance of considering how, as associations, we can better support one another's efforts.
Our task as leaders is to facilitate the tough conversations between associations and to call for thoughtful, critical reflection and candid discussion, based on current realities as opposed to past events. Having collegial professional communities can provide the power to strengthen our scientific bases and improve services, and requires a willingness to recognize the shared and unique goals of each profession. Collegiality is something we must aspire to ourselves, not something others will do for us.
We realize that collegial relationships can take effort and time, but believe it is time well spent for our professions. Our associations can be natural allies and contribute to each other's growth and vitality. As colleagues, we can create occasions to learn from one another and cooperatively explore the issues our members face. For communication to be successful, we must listen with the intent to understand. Our busy professional lives and increasing reliance on immediate response can make us susceptible to mistaken assumptions or misinterpretations of the motives for our actions.
By committing our efforts to building upon and fostering a collegial atmosphere, we can maintain an open dialogue and cultivate an environment in which the interplay of ideas and questions can thrive. As volunteer leaders and presidents of AAA and ASHA, we have a responsibility to fulfill the missions of our organizations, and in doing so, we can set an example for current and future leaders who, as colleagues, will advocate for issues that can impact the lives and livelihoods of speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and those we serve.
This is not the first, nor do we believe the last, interchange between association leaders, but we would like to think it is an important expression of our sincere commitment to continuing the conversation. We invite you to join us in framing your perspective, understanding and celebrating the growth and differences in each of our professions and associations, fostering collaboration in areas where commonalities exist, and recognizing where we diverge. Our professionalism, as reflected in our collegiality, says much about who we are as individuals and as associations. As we start to compare notes, we hope to be able to write the next chapter with a message that once more expresses the value of each profession and that helps to define the relationships between the associations. Together and through continued dialogue we encourage our members to appreciate the inherent potential that collegiality presents within and between AAA and ASHA.