Events | January 2018 Hearing Review
The Oticon Audiology Summer Camp celebrated its 20th year of providing graduate students in audiology with a unique opportunity to gain relevant, practical, professional world knowledge and insights. Held each year in Keystone, Colo, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and only a few miles from the Continental Divide, the Audiology Summer Camp is one of the most venerable of all industry-student learning events and has been widely emulated.
What Audiological Care Means in 2017
By Cassandra Hawk, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Audiology is a dynamic profession; there is constantly new technology on the horizon, a large variety of career opportunities that compliment the individual skills and interests of professionals in the field, and endless emerging research findings that contribute to best practice. The Oticon Audiology Summer Camp is a unique opportunity given to current AuD and PhD candidates across the globe that brings students to the mountains of Keystone, Colo, to spend five days immersed in all that the profession of audiology has to offer, in addition to what we can expect to see from our field in the future.
Over the duration of the Camp, the hosts and guest speakers all looked at the dynamic nature of the field by addressing available and upcoming technology advancements, as well as past and emerging research that provides insight towards ways that we can provide our patients with the best audiological care.
Another theme at the Camp was career opportunities in audiology. What makes this profession so unique is that many audiologists envision themselves providing audiological care in one area of the profession and find themselves years later providing audiological services in a way they had never imagined when they first started out. The hosts and guest speakers of the Camp all explained that they began their careers in one area of the field and unpredictable opportunities presented themselves, opening the door to rewarding career paths they had never dreamed of. This observation has taught me that while it’s important to have a vision of your professional goals, you shouldn’t let that vision limit yourself in the career possibilities this field provides, since you never know where the opportunities of this profession may lead you.
The Oticon Audiology Summer Camp has been one of the most valuable educational opportunities I have had the privilege to experience. I took more away from this Camp than I ever imagined. To name a few, I learned valuable fitting strategies that I have already implemented with my patients; I gained experience in using the MedRx Tinnometer, a new device coming to the market that helps clinicians better diagnose and address tinnitus that I’m excited to integrate into my future practice; and I adopted new collaborative and motivational interviewing strategies that I strive to use consistently with all my patients. Most importantly, the hosts from Oticon and guest speakers all orated a powerful message that can guide anyone towards best practice methods: Provide excellent care from the patient’s perspective. I have taken this mindset and message to heart, and I can honestly say it has had the greatest positive impact on my clinical skills and on my interactions with my patients.
Oticon’s mission statement is “People First.” The individuals at this company continue to emphasize this philosophy time after time when it comes to patient care, and have proven this also applies to their relationship with professionals and students. This Camp was truly an educational experience that has enhanced my clinical skills with my patients and has helped me grow professionally as a student and as a soon-to-be audiologist. I hope that Oticon and other manufacturers continue to provide these educational opportunities to students in the future. These are the experiences that keep us up to date with the dynamic nature of the field of audiology and enhance our clinical abilities to the next level, which ultimately promotes excellent audiological care for all patients.
Organized each year by Oticon VP of Audiology Donald Schum and Henning Falster, senior manager of professional programs and events, the Camp never fails to offer an excellent range and depth of practical information. In the first day’s orientation, Dr Schum told students that the focus of the Camp is on those aspects of audiology that they are less likely to encounter in their academic programs—ranging from practical tips and tricks in hearing aid fitting, career choices and professional development options, patient counseling and retention, as well as perspectives on the industry and marketing from seasoned industry veterans and dispensing professionals.
First introduced in 1998, the Oticon Summer Camp program was designed to educate students on advanced hearing device technology, something that was not covered as comprehensively at universities in the late 1990s. In more recent years, the quality of education in hearing device technology has dramatically improved at the university level, according to Oticon. That change has enabled the organizers to shift the Summer Camp’s focus to three areas that help prepare students to successfully enter professional life: patient interaction, professional development, and life in private practice.
“What hasn’t changed is our focus on the importance of putting the needs of people first and the essential role of hearing care professionals in the delivery of quality hearing care,” said Schum. “We believe that hearing care is healthcare, and that the best hearing care is provided by caring professionals who are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the changing healthcare arena.”
Having been attended by probably more than a thousand practicing audiologists in the past two decades, the Audiology Summer Camp has gradually grown in popularity, and competition to attend has increased concomitantly. Those who are chosen to attend do not regret it. Over the years, the Camp has gained a reputation for being a “work hard, play hard” event that opens both minds and opportunities. During the 5-day Camp, the learning sessions take place in large and small group settings, including workshops. There are generally two full days of classes, as well as other days where students are given opportunities to journey outside and explore the breathtaking scenery and network at special events. Other events include special dinners and cookouts, a rafting trip, a gold mine tour, and free time.
This year’s theme was “What Audiological Care Means in 2017,” and the educational program reflected exciting new research emerging in hearing healthcare, particularly relative to speech processing, cognition, and aging. The week’s curriculum ranged from counseling challenges and complex fittings, to job seeking and patient retention strategies.
In a general session titled “Perception in Complex Environments,” Dr Schum said that just making speech audible is no guarantee for speech understanding, and that word recognition testing may capture some of the data needed for assessment, but it doesn’t cover the rest of processing. He also pointed out humorously that noise does not come from a disc by Auditec of St Louis; rather, real-world linguistic noise is much more complex, fluctuating, and dynamic. Similarly, amplification doesn’t change hearing; amplification changes sound. All this means that cognitive decline and the loss of the ability to organize speech cues due to an aging auditory system usually requires professional attention, counseling, training, and other appropriate interventions.
Audiology Summer Camp: The Students’ Perspective
Every summer, nestled in the mountains of Keystone, Colo, Oticon Inc hosts an Audiology Summer Camp for doctoral students in the field. Established in 1998 as part of the University Support Program, the annual Camp is a 5-day immersive experience of seminars, workshops, and discussions with a focus on practical knowledge of technology and patient care. The objective is to facilitate the sharing of professional insights with emerging doctors in an evolving industry. To honor 20 rewarding years of teaching and discourse, punctuated by invigorating activities in the Rockies, Camp alumni were offered the opportunity to reflect on what they learned at Camp and the impact of this on their future. What the students produced both captures the essence of Camp and conveys its importance. The intention in showcasing these student essays is to offer other professionals in the industry a glimpse into the Camp so that they may understand the experience and its deep-rooted benefits. The theme addressed in these essays, and of this year’s 20th annual Summer Camp, is “What Audiological Care Means in 2017.”
Twenty-three students from a total of 104 Camp attendees in 2017 submitted their perspective on the program. The top three winners were Cassandra Hawk (1st place: $1,000); Kimberly Szabo (2nd place: $500); and Rachael Luckett (3rd place: $250). The first-place entry by Cassandra Hawk is featured in the sidebar on p 44, and the second- and third-place entries appear in the online version of this article at www.hearingreview.com.
— Kelly A. Stahl, AuD, Oticon manager of distance education; and Ashley Hunter, assistant editor, Virginia Living
Later in the week, Schum also presented information on “Reactions to Aging” that looked at various social models that describe how aging people change and adapt (or fail to) in their activities due to the aging body, and the role that selectivity, optimization, and compensation play. He pointed out that no one dies of hearing loss, but social isolation has very real health consequences. As hearing loss can be thought of as a “secondary effect” of age-related cognitive decline, maintaining hearing and communication in older adults is an essential factor for preventing loneliness and social isolation.
Annette Mazevski, AuD, PhD, Oticon’s manager of technology assessment, provided a seminar about “hidden hearing loss,” reviewing reasearch on cochlear synaptopathy and damage to the neural connections in hearing. She pointed out that the audiogram sheds little or no light on these damaged connections, but analysis of the ABR Wave I, ECochG, and DPOAEs may prove useful.
Oticon Manager of Distance Education Kelly Stahl, AuD, presented information about “The Future of eHealth in Audiology,” outlining the many technologies involved in teleaudiology, as well as examples of remote hearing aid fitting and adjustment. She says it’s likely more audiologists in the future will be using online hearing enhancement programs to supplement their counseling and aural rehabilitation efforts.
Interspersed throughout the educational program were a series of candid 15-minute, first-hand accounts of audiologists who had worked in different job settings, including educational audiology, industry, clinics and hospitals, government services, and academia. In many instances, these presenters provided funny and interesting stories about how they got the job and what they most liked (and disliked) about it. Additionally, a special session featuring private practice audiologists Melissa Danchak, AuD, and Lisa Alber, AuD, provided insights into the rewards and challenges of being an audiological entrepreneur after buying or starting up a practice. Both professionals demonstrated that success in private practice can be achieved using very different strategies as long as the patient comes first.
2nd Place Student Entry: What Audiological Care Means in 2017
Possibly one of the most attractive qualities to the field of audiology is its ever-evolving state. Audiology is consistently changing as technology advances and society grows. As professionals, audiologists must keep up with the dynamic field we have chosen. I will even go as far as saying it is a duty to our patients to remain informed of the newest resources available. Part of educating ourselves with the most current evidenced-based practice involves attending conferences and conversing with other professionals. As a student, I have been most fortunate to be provided with the opportunity to attend Oticon’s annual Summer Camp event. Five days of educational seminars, consulting with peers, hands on demonstrations, and not to mention creating valuable friendships and memories. Through this experience I have learned what it means to provide Audiological Care in 2017.
Upon departing the beautiful resort we happily called our home for a week, my classmate, who also attended Oticon Camp, asked me what my favorite session was. I had to pause and truly think before responding. My favorite had to be Counseling Challenges. No. Complex Fittings. Hidden hearing loss? I was unable to choose one. Truthfully, all of the different sessions resonated with me. The presentations came together to provide insight on how to put our patients first, which is equitably Oticon’s motto of People First. I was so motivated after leaving camp that I have continued researching topics that were discussed and begun to think of ways to incorporate this new information into my studies.
Oticon’s philosophy of People First was apparent throughout the five days in the Rockies. Not only through the lectures and workshop sessions, but also through the warming hospitality and encouraging environment they provided for all of the students. An example was set; an example of how to provide audiological care to future patients. Mentioned in various talks and written down several times in my notes are the words, listen to the patient, and reflect from the patient’s point of view. An essential take away message is that patient care is highly individualized. Providing good audiological care means to ask the right questions and figure out specific goals. By doing so, deeper connections are established and more effective intervention can be implemented.
While technical strategies were incorporated into the sessions at Oticon camp, they were not the main focus. The goal was to supplement what we learn in the classrooms of our universities and touch upon topics that may not be discussed. By doing so, we were all provided with insight as to what to expect upon graduation. Moving forward, I have learned to go into each appointment with no assumptions. Every patient interaction is personal and should be tailored accordingly. For the year of 2017, Audiological Care means putting the patient first, figuring out what is most important to them, and making thoughtful decisions together. This type of care will make patients more receptive and motivated to participate in treatment. Ultimately, more patients will care about their hearing health, resulting in open connections and better quality of life.
3rd Place Student Entry: What Audiological Care Means in 2017
Before Oticon’s Audiology Summer Camp, I had become “burned out” from the busyness of working, studying for summer classes, fulfilling clinic hours, and trying to figure out places I should apply for my 4th year externship. Like other graduate students, I’m sure, I had gotten lost in my program and started overthinking if I even wanted to become an audiologist anymore. I felt as if I had exhausted my classmates and faculty within my small graduate program from talking about my concerns, and I needed to hear from someone with a new insight. As summer classes came to an end, I was looking forward to camp, but I did not realize how much I actually needed it until I attended.
As camp started, I was most excited about meeting other students, most of which were incoming third year doctoral students like myself. My program is the only one in my state, so it was very refreshing to meet other students, hear how their programs worked, and learn from their clinic experiences as well. During camp, I was amazed by how much time was dedicated to meeting other students and actually getting to know them, not just learn their names and faces. This was important to me since I have always seen audiology as a fairly small professional world, but I only knew the audiology professionals in my immediate vicinity. I instantly fell into a huge support system that I didn’t realize existed, and I can truthfully say that I made some great friends by the end of camp.
We even had ample opportunities to get to know the staff, through their lectures and one-on-one conversations. I was comforted to know that each of the Oticon staff had been in our shoes, understood our stresses, and wanted us to succeed. Coming from various backgrounds and different sectors of the company, each person had a unique story to tell and information that supplemented our graduate programs in every way. Our programs teach us the standard ways to identify, assess, diagnose, and treat our patients, but the Oticon staff showed us ways to enhance our patient care by thinking more out of the box and listening to the patient in ways that I hadn’t ever considered. They were genuinely excited to show us all the possibilities that audiology has to offer, and they encouraged us to be brave in these next few years of finishing our degrees and applying for our first jobs. All of this is exactly what I needed.
Stepping back into school post-camp, I am entering with a new outlook and a new energy. From the personalized lectures and intimate conversations, camp taught me that there is so much more to audiology than what we read in our textbooks. New research is always being published concerning technology, patient outlook, and patient care. Some of it could be brand new or sound unconventional, but staying updated on these matters is one of our best ways to recruit and retain our patients, especially in a quickly changing world and profession. After seeing hands-on how Oticon is using new research to improve their technology, designs, and patient care, I see that research is given special emphasis and is much more beneficial than I previously thought. This has made me want to devote more time to reading new research, so I can help my patients in new ways, especially since I will be on my own as a professional fairly soon.
As a third year audiology doctoral student, I have a new energy and focus on my graduate program and on my future profession. If I ever forget my focus or begin to have doubts again, I know that I have an entire network of other students and professionals for support. I have new interests within the scope of audiology and new goals for my career, some of which had never appealed to me before camp. I learned more about myself and my wants for the future by attending Oticon’s Audiology Summer Camp, and I couldn’t be more grateful to Oticon for helping me find my way back into audiology.
The 2018 Oticon Audiology Summer Camp will be held July 28-August 2, and registration for the camp starts in February. For more information, visit: www.oticon.com/professionals/audiology-students/events-and-programs