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Reflections on the Au.D.

Reflections on the Au.D.
May 5, 2000

As I sit here, reviewing the past 18 months, I feel rather melancholy. Approximately 18 months ago I registered for the University of Florida Au.D. Distance Learning program. My business partner thought I was crazy. We already had the earned entitlement from AFA -- but we couldn't use it.

We are in private practice. The Au.D. won't change our income or the continuous fight to make audiology a recognized profession for the majority of insurance companies. Yet, that is precisely why I had to do it, as well as being a masochist!

After all, if we don't do something for ourselves to give ourselves status, why should we expect others to do it for us? Family and friends, as well as many colleagues told me I was crazy. I have a one and a half hour commute each way. I work full-time at my private practice and have three children who were all 6, 7, and 8 when the program began. As in everyone's life, little crises continually arose, including my mother developing cancer. But I made it.

The first day of our Boca site meeting was very interesting. I actually felt fortunate as I knew at least half the students in my group. Boy, were we shellshocked when Dr. Bob Fifer began early in the morning and didn't stop our electrophysiology class till 5 (except for lunch). By that time our heads were spinning. Most of us oldtimers (which comprised at least half our group) were not sure we could make it after all this time out of school.

Eighteen months later, with graduation around the corner, we are all very excited and yet a little sad to be parting ways. This has been an incredible growth experience, not only professionally but personally as well. Much of the information I had acquired prior to the Au.D program on topics such as cochlear implants, electrophysiology and even hearing aids was very outdated, despite all the continuing education I constantly attend.

My fellow students and I went through a major attitude change. We thought we knew so much, but so much of what we learned (the first time around) has changed. We are now better counselors, teachers, clinicians and audiologists and professionals.

The friendships we have made, the support we gave each other, the comraderie we felt and shared, these are the most special attainments of all. Those of us who have been through this program have not only made lifelong professional and personal associations but we now realize even more than before how special our families are. For those of us who are married with children, well, without the continuing support of our spouses and forbearance of our ''neglected'' children, this never would have been possible.

Sometimes my husband would awaken and say to me ''Who are you''? When the children heard my last final was over, they cheered and said: ''Goody, now you can pay more attention to us''! (that one kind of hurt).

And now, sitting here and typing this, knowing that there will be no more quizzes, no more finals, no more massive class projects, it all seems unreal.

Maybe we have all forgotten what it was like to finish our bachelors or masters degree and be nervous about going out into the world. And why should that be now?

We are all working professionals and do not need to feel trepidation about obtaining that first job. Yet the feeling is the same. It is the same emptiness. But maybe that's good. It is a sign of going on to better things. With all this free time, our new doctors can spend some fighting for the recognition we deserve with insurance companies. We can fight for universal newborn screening and appropriate management of the identified children in every state. We can fight for the profession to continue to evolve into a doctoring profession, and we can fight for autonomy!

For those of you waiting to see how the ''Au.D. Movement'' will go, I want to urge you to ''just do it!'' I am extremely glad I did.

I think we all understand the feeling that after so many years in clinical practice, well, how much more can there be to learn? After over 20 years and a myriad of CEU certificates, it was humbling to see how much I still had to learn.

Believe me, there is much to learn -- and it is worth it. I cannot think of a single classmate who regrets this move. Obtaining your doctorate is not easy, but then, no worthwhile attainment ever is.

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