ADA Convention
The Academy of Dispensing Audiologists (ADA) 2003 Convention, held at the Sanibel Harbour Resort in Ft. Myers, Fla, had as its theme, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll: A Time for Action,” and it was reflected in many of the meeting’s events. About 700 attendees (200 of them being exhibitors) were treated to the ADA’s vision on how the Academy is working to change dispensing for the benefit of the profession of audiology, AuD students, and ADA members. Among the highlights were presentations and special sessions on AuDNet, the joint American Academy of Audiology (AAA)/ADA Ethical Practice Guidelines on Financial Incentives Related to Hearing Aid Dispensing, AuD programs, and numerous legislative issues. The event also featured its share of fun, with the annual ADA Golf and Racquetball Tournament, a pool party, and a sock hop.

 ADA President Cynthia Ellison and President-Elect and ADA Legislative Affairs Chair Craig Johnson, focused much of the convention’s spotlight on the academy’s future, the need for branding audiology through AuDNet, the AuD and accreditation, and ongoing legislative efforts.

ADA President-elect and Legislative Affairs Chair Craig Johnson, AuD, detailed some of the ongoing initiatives being pursued by the Academy. He says that ADA is working to change legislative language so that audiologists are not defined by their CCC-A designation for the purpose of becoming a Medicaid provider, and he says all reimbursement issues should be separate from this designation. Additionally, the organization has worked with AAA to pass legislation (HR 2821) allowing Medicare patients direct access to audiologists without the need for a referral by a physician.

Kenneth Lowder (r) was presented with the Academy’s first Leo Doerfler Award by Johnson.

Opening session keynote speaker Stephen Tweed, CSP, a health care strategist, spoke about health care and marketing trends and how to deal with issues while devising strategic areas that will help promote business growth.

Dave Marcis, who has raced in Winston Cup events since 1968 and holds five Winston Cup victories, was on hand at the ADA booth with his audiologist, Robert DiSogra. The two men often team up to educate racing fans about hearing conservation.

David Smriga, president of AuDNet, spoke on the need for “branding audiology” using the AuD degree, and detailed how image-building and branding might be used to increase the presence of audiologists’ businesses in the minds of consumers.

ADA has a long history of helping audiologists take control of their own destiny, says Johnson, and with the help of AuDNet, he says there are further opportunities to positively influence dispensing and business practices, to influence the AuD and doctorate care, and encourage branding of the wellness services of audiology. AuDNet (, which was unveiled in 2002 (see May 2002 HR, p. 12) and launched at last year’s convention, is a complete-service buying and business management network exclusively offered to ADA members. The company, headed by audiologist David Smriga and endorsed by ADA which receives 5% of AuDNet revenues, is a multifaceted buying, financial services, and consumer advocacy business network designed to help members compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace while promoting the quality hearing care and professional development of audiologists. Smriga, who conducted a seminar entitled “Strategic and Economic Branding of the AuD Degree,” advocates the development of a unique hearing health care image associated with the “AuD brand.”

ADA President Cynthia Ellison, AuD, says that successful branding is based on the idea of singularity. The objective is to create the perception that there is no other product quite like yours. She explains that AuDNet is not just a buyer’s group, but a branding and business positioning tool that includes web-based office management systems, AudView, and promotional tools. In the future, the network will also offer professional employee recruiting, comprehensive practice valuation, and loan and practice sale services.

Also high on the priority list of ADA is the education of AuD candidates and their matriculation into the field of dispensing audiology. Toward that end, past-president Robert Manning, AuD, has started an AuD mentoring program designed to help ease students’ entry into the world of dispensing. This year, 34 AuD second-year candidates participated in the program, and these students were hand-picked and matched to participating experienced professionals within ADA. The aim is to “make a smooth and comfortable transition and acclimate them to the hearing care field,” says Manning. Through this interaction and continued professional relationships with their mentors, candidates go back to their third-year program with more experience and confidence, he says.

A session on model licensure laws was also presented by Kenneth Lowder, AuD, Larry Engelmann, AuD, and Robert Gippin, JD, which was proposed as a template for state boards throughout the country.

Next Year
The ADA 2004 Convention will be held in Tucson, Ariz, October 13-16. For more information, contact ADA at 803-252-5646;