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Interview with Cindy Ellison M.A., Nominee, President-Elect, Academy of Dispensing Audiologists

Cindy Ellison, MA

September 14, 2000


AO/Beck: Hi Cindy, thanks for giving us a little time this evening. I know that you are one of the three ADA presidential nominees. I'd like to start by learning a little about your background.

ELLISON: Sure. Thanks for the opportunity. I earned my undergraduate degree in 1973 and my master's in 1974, both from Northern Illinois University. After completing my M.A., I moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan and was employed half time by the United Way Speech and Hearing Center and half-time as the educational audiologist for the local school district. Two and a half years later I was employed in an ENT office also in Grand Rapids until I started a private practice there in 1979. When I sold the practice in 1995 I had two offices and 5 audiologists on staff. It was a very dynamic office as we did everything from community aural rehabilitation classes to diagnostics to calibration and industrial testing. From 1995 to 1999 I lived in Nashville, Tennessee and was employed by Vanderbilt University as an assistant professor. I was also director of their Audiology Satellite Program through the Bill Wilkerson Center and established two free-standing offices for them during that time. It was another exciting time in my professional career because I was able to work with audiology students and helped them to explore budgeting, marketing, cerumen management, counseling and advertising, as well as traditional clinical experiences. In1999, my husband and I relocated to Bella Vista, Arkansas. Once again, I've started a private practice from scratch. The office is in a strip mall location and has a very different feel to it from previous experiences. I have a physician's office on one side of me and a pharmacy on the other.

AO/Beck: How did you go about marketing your new practice?

ELLISON: I started by writing LOTS of letters to the physicians, speech pathologists, community centers and so on. The local school district was actually very pleased to learn that I was interested in testing children. I even received 'Welcome to the community' phone calls. The physician next door to me has also been very supportive, so we're off to a good start. My primary focus, however, has been marketing directly to the patient. I try to get the message out that I am the hearing healthcare professional to contact in the area by presenting educational seminars in the classroom which I included in my new office design, complete with blackboard and easel. I am also writing an 'Ask the Expert' column in the local paper and am considering radio spots, all of which are great advertising venues. We also have handouts on every imaginable topic regarding hearing loss and amplification.

AO/Beck: Cindy, are you going to pursue an Au.D.?

ELLISON: Yes, in fact I am an Au.D. candidate at the Arizona program.

AO/Beck: Congratulations. That really is wonderful. Which courses are you taking?

ELLISON: My primary emphasis throughout my professional career has always been in amplification, private practice issues, counseling, gerontology and rehabilitation. So I am now looking to increase my knowledge in the areas of auditory and vestibular neuroanatomy and neurophysiology, otoacoustic emissions and auditory evoked potentials.

AO/Beck: How long have you been involved with the Academy of Dispensing Audiologists (ADA)?

ELLISON: I've been a member of ADA since 1979. In fact, I think I've been to every national ADA conference except one.

AO/Beck: In what capacities have you served the ADA?

ELLISON: I was the ADA treasurer from 1990 to 1994 and then I was asked to fill in as a Board Member for one year for someone who was moving into an executive position at ADA. Additionally, I was an assistant editor for FEEDBACK (the ADA news-journal) in the 1980s.

AO/Beck: If you had to define what the ADA is, how would you describe it?

ELLISON: The ADA represents approximately a thousand of the most dedicated audiologists in the nation. In many respects, the ADA is the 'think tank' for audiology and we take great pride in the profession. The ADA is very pro-entrepreneur, pro-Au.D., pro-cerumen management and all-in-all is the most progressive organization we have. I'm very proud of the ADA and I'm proud to be one of its members.

AO/Beck: Tell me, how is ADA different from AAA and ASHA? Specifically, why would anyone join ADA -- if they are already a member of AAA and/or ASHA?

ELLISON: Because ADA is smaller, they are more focused and more responsive to the needs of the audiologists. The ADA has a specific focus, supporting the dispensing audiologist. We (the ADA) have worked towards promoting all audiologists to the doctoral level through distance education and residential programs and we are focused on the clinical audiologist and their future. The ADA focuses in on the day-to-day issues and concerns of the clinical audiologist. The Board is extremely responsive to the membership.

AO/Beck: I understand the 'presidential process' at ADA is actually a six year 'hitch'? Is it two years as president-elect, two years as president and then two years as past-president?

ELLISON: Yes, that's correct.

AO/Beck: As president of ADA, what would your short-term goals be?

ELLISON: I think one of our greatest professional obstacles comes from ourselves. That is, not only must we all achieve doctoral status, but we need to present ourselves as doctors, all of the time, in every situation. We're new at this and it'll take time, but with the knowledge and the title 'doctor', comes the responsibility and we need to present ourselves in the best possible light, each and every time throughout the community. I'd like to see us focus on professionalism as an immediate, short-term goal.

AO/Beck: What percentage of all audiologists do you anticipate will earn their Au.D.?

ELLISON: I really don't know., I'm certain well over half will, but I hope we approach 100 percent. The Au.D. is very important and we all need to pursue it and earn it with all due diligence. Professional learning is an ongoing and critically important factor and we need to make this a priority. The doctorate allows us to enhance and improve our careers and our profession. Without a doctorate, audiology tends to be a job, with a doctorate, it's your profession!

AO/Beck: Cindy, are there any characteristics or attributes which you posess, that make you the ideal presidential candidate for ADA?

ELLISON: I love this profession. Audiology is what I do and it's what I am. I truly enjoy working with hearing impaired patients. I want to give back to the ADA what they have given me. I have a strong sense of the ADA's history and I have a strong background as a clinician. I hope to be able to use my skills and interests and help forward the ADA and the profession.

AO/Beck: Thanks so much. I appreciate sharing your time and thoughts this evening.

ELLISON: Thank you too, Doug.

Signia Xperience - July 2024

Cindy Ellison, MA

Nominee, President-Elect, Academy of Dispensing Audiologists

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