February 1, 2013 Departments

State Spotlight: New Mexico Speech-Language and Hearing Association

Website: www.nmsha.net
Established: 1961
Members: Approximately 300
Contact: Michelle Webster, nmsha@comcast.net or 1-800-292-8465

How are you making a difference in your members' professional lives?

NMSHA closely monitors legislation in the state and informs and motivates advocates to support our members' interests. NMSHA also serves as a resource to the community in illuminating our roles and responsibilities as clinicians.

What is the most significant challenge, unique circumstance or pressing frustration facing communication sciences and disorders professionals in your state today?

We have a few topics that have become pressing in recent years.

  • We are revisiting the use of assistants in the state. We had chosen not to make any recommendations for regulation, because there is no academic preparation program in the state. It has come to light, however, that organizations in the state are already employing assistants without regulation. NMSHA needs to re-evaluate and take action either for or against the use of assistants in New Mexico. This decision will require participation from all SLPs in the state.
  • We want to increase participation in the organization by students and the universities. The recent partnership between ASHA and the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association is serving as a catalyst for reconnecting with our universities. We have increased our outreach—which has been well received—and NMSHA is dedicated to furthering this effort.

What is your association's proudest accomplishment?

In recent years the association was able to reconcile with audiologists in the state. The representation and support for audiology, as evidenced by our annual convention, had fallen for years and reached a low when the only session scheduled for audiologists was canceled (the presenter was ill) and we had to provide refunds to the few who came.

Following that incident, the state health department approached NMSHA to provide training in early hearing detection and intervention to audiologists in the state. For two years we had a preconference for audiologists with hands-on training on early hearing detection and intervention equipment, followed by a full two-day track at convention. This year we did not have a preconference, but maintained the well-attended two-day track for audiologists.

This effort has reconnected NMSHA with audiologists, so much so that now three audiologists serve as NMSHA board members. I credit NMSHA for the renewed dedication and efforts, but also Sheree Hall, who was instrumental in providing the vehicle for this turnaround.

What is a memorable event in your association's history and how did it come about?

This is not one event, but rather a series of scheduled events. Since before I joined the board in 2006, NMSHA has held an annual "NMSHA Day at the Legislature." Every year we have had two pieces of legislation passed in both the Senate and the House—the first declares a specific day as "New Mexico Speech-Language and Hearing Association Day" and a second establishes "May Is Better Hearing and Speech Month." Every year board members sit in the House and Senate galleries and receive the proclamations, after several lawmakers praise our contributions to the state. I am humbled yearly by the accolades we receive. The recognition at the state legislature level is an honor and a treasured event.

What should every communication sciences and disorders professional in your state know about the association?

NMSHA has the infrastructure now to move forward in this century, to inform its members and to affect change. Members' participation—signing up to receive the information, participating in the Listserv and logging in to the website or Facebook—is key to this process, as is participation by sharing experiences with colleagues. "Together" is a powerful word.

Bryan Tierney, MA, CCC-SLP, is NMSHA president. btdesert@yahoo.com

cite as: Tierney, B. (2013, February 01). State Spotlight: New Mexico Speech-Language and Hearing Association. The ASHA Leader.

  

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