From July 12-14, 2019, the Student Academy of Audiology’s (SAA) Board of Directors traveled to the American Academy of Audiology headquarters in Reston, VA, for a weekend-long planning meeting. The Board kicked things off right with a trip to Washington, DC, bright and early Friday morning. Each member of the Board met with a staffer of their Representative for conversations about current issues important to audiologists and audiology students. One of the groups even met Representative Steve Stivers (OH-5) and his very friendly puppy, Huck the Husky.
Two members of the Board had never spoken with Representatives before. First-timers Stephanie Berry and Samantha Kesteloot were feeling anxious and nervous heading into their meetings. They mentioned that having prepared issue briefs with them to reference and the presence of other audiology students and professionals to supplement the conversations were comforting. As more meetings occurred, the conversations became more comfortable and it was easier to “nerd out” over audiology.
There were two hot issues highlighted in discussions with Representatives, as legislation concerning them are actively progressing through the legislative process. First, the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act of 2019, which would offer federal grant money to accredited universities for the development of financial aid to underrepresented groups in health professions, including audiology. Many of the staffers expressed interest as student debt is a large concern of legislators.
Other items discussed included the maintenance of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act, and the Access to Frontline Healthcare Act. Read more about these issues at AAA’s Legislative Action Center.
You could say that the SAA Board successfully stormed the Hill. We encourage you to do the same! Sending emails, making phone calls, or visiting elected representatives in person are all ways to advocate for the profession of audiology. Advocacy begins with a conversation, and as future or current audiologists, we invest in ourselves each time we can educate someone about audiology.