You can see the glass as half-full and be an optimist. You can see it as half-empty and be a pessimist. Or, you can drink the glass down and be a problem-solver.
—Adapted, author unknown
If the buzz that you hear is anything like the one that we do, you may find yourself deluged by pronouncements about what is wrong with the state of education and training in our country and why things will not get better. Yes, times are tough, and sometimes the glass looks nearly empty.
There is a justification for feeling gloomy: We have witnessed budget reductions and scaled-back resources. Tuition rates have nearly quadrupled in the past 25 years. Debates abound about the value of a college degree. And dynamic changes in health care policies present serious implications for our discipline and how we will educate future professionals.
The problems have become so big that they may seem beyond solution. Demands are and will continue to be great for the foreseeable future. Yet we perceive that this may be the right time to accelerate our efforts to develop a thoughtful and strategic approach to meet the needs of our current and future students. Somewhere between hopelessness and blind faith lies a reason to be optimistic—and ASHA and the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CAPCSD) are working together to provide the support you need.
Since 1925, ASHA has advocated for individuals with communication disorders and for professionals in speech-language pathology and audiology. CAPCSD, founded in 1978, has a related mission to enhance and advance the programs that educate our future audiologists and speech-language pathologists. As presidents of these two associations, we choose to problem-solve collaboratively, forging stronger partnerships and drawing from a broader resource base upon which to face the challenges ahead.
ASHA and CAPCSD already collaborate to find solutions and plan for the future: Together, they conduct the annual CSD Education Survey as part of the Higher Education Data System developed for the discipline, form the Joint Ad Hoc Committee on PhD Shortages in CSD, provide support for CSD programs threatened with closure due to budget cuts, partner with others to launch the "Bring in the Best" campaign to provide students in grades 7–12 with information on the professions as a future career, and participate in initiatives to enhance the professions' visibility and diversity.
Our associations' efforts have increased to provide student and faculty opportunities to network with the larger speech and hearing community, gain practical and leadership experiences, and share and access current research. Through conferences and joint committees, members can tap into new research and clinical innovations and grow a support network.
Faculty and students have adapted to changes in technology, the ways we communicate and share information, demographics, clinical certification standards, degree requirements, and program accreditation. Future audiologists and SLPs will compete in an environment in which their health sciences colleagues will be trained in overlapping aspects of communication disorders.
As volunteer leaders we seek to monitor trends, anticipate changes, and address issues. We acknowledge emerging challenges and possibilities and are confident that our associations have what is needed to manage them. Our optimism is rooted in the accomplishments of our respective members and reflects our belief that, by working together, we can build on their achievements. Despite the degree of attention often given to all that is wrong, evidence of success surrounds us.
We could sit back and pine about days when students all had scholarships, tuition rates were low, and class sizes were small. Looking forward, however, we have more opportunities than ever to promote global outreach, enhance our research capacity, recruit the best and brightest students and faculty, advocate on state and national levels, adapt curricula to meet changes in the professions, increase access to academic programs, identify and define the knowledge and skills associated with quality supervision, provide additional continuing education experiences for clinical educators, infuse tenets of value-based care into the curriculum, explore the potential of a clinical doctorate in speech-language pathology, bring more prominence to undergraduate CSD programs, and establish bridges between universities and the communities in which they reside.
How our two organizations approach the issues will determine how successful we are, and we choose to remain positive, persistent, and prepared. Together, we raise our glasses and toast our universities, associations, professions, and our good fortune.