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Cochlear Osia System - June 2024

Interview with Delbert Ault Au.D., President, NAFDA (National Association of Future Doctors of Audiology)

Delbert Ault, AuD

September 26, 2000
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AO/Beck: Hi Delbert. It's a pleasure to meet with you again. I know that you are the founder and president of NAFDA and I want to thank you for your endless hours of dedication to NAFDA. But, before we get to NAFDA issues, please tell us a little about yourself.

Ault: Sure. I actually started with a focus on pre-med and a biology degree at the University of Kentucky some 16 years ago. I took the MCATs and started applying to medical schools but I got side-tracked and got involved with other, non-academic pursuits. As I matured, I decided that I needed to get back to school. So eventually I did go back to school, I picked-up a few courses in cell biology and physics, and then I actually retook the MCATs. As I was interviewing at Louisville Medical School, I learned about a new program called the Doctor of Audiology program. I researched it and fell in love with it, and here I am.

AO/Beck: So when did you actually get your bachelor's degree?

Ault: I got my newest bachelor's in 1998. That's also when I started the Doctor of Audiology program at Louisville.

AO/Beck: So you've been at Louisville for about three years in their AuD program. I believe that program is chaired by Dr. Ian Windmill?

Ault: Yes, that's correct.

AO/Beck: When are you scheduled to finish your Au.D.?

Ault: I am scheduled to finish my academic coursework in April of 2001. That's also when I start my residency, and then I finish up in April of 2002.

AO/Beck: Where did you get the idea to start NAFDA?

Ault: Well, when I was an undergraduate, I was the president of the pre-med honor society. At that time, I found out how important it was to have inter-program communication and access to other students in other programs. When I got to Louisville I asked what was available. I was told there was a group called NSSHLA. But, NSSHLA was primarily a speech pathology organization for students, and there were only limited opportunities for communication across programs. I decided that we needed to start our own chapter at Louisville. But soon thereafter, I learned there was no student organization for doctoral students in audiology. So to make a long story brief, I decided to start NAFDA.

AO/Beck: In what year was NAFDA founded and how many co-founders did you have?

Ault: NAFDA was founded in October, 1998. In January, 1999 we had our 'Founders Meeting' in Louisville, Kentucky. We had 87 people who attended the meeting. 16 of those people were founding officers. At the Founders Meeting we had representatives from all of the major audiology organizations and we had representatives from all sorts of audiology groups from across the nation.

AO/Beck: How many members does NAFDA currently have?

Ault: We have 192 members in four year Au.D. programs, we have 251 alumni members (including Dr. Beck!) and we have 742 distance learning members. So all in all, we have about 1200 members.

AO/Beck: That's amazing growth over a two year period! Delbert, if you had to 'pigeon- hole' it, what is the function of NAFDA?

Ault: NAFDA's primary purpose and mission is to create a communication opportunity among all doctoral audiology programs for the students, the professionals, the manufacturers and the audiology community at large. Additionally, we provide academic benefits for audiologists by connecting the students with the professors, the researchers and the real-world clinicians. So in essence, NAFDA provides a conduit for the profession, allowing the students access to clinicians, researchers and professors.

AO/Beck: Delbert, do you have clear short-term and long-term goals for NAFDA?

Ault: I have my own thoughts about where NAFDA should go, but the goals are really a Board decision. I think that in five years we'll have over 5000 members. Therefore, our goals should include assembling and maintaining a database for all members and contact mechanisms similar to our webpage and newsletter to maintain excellent communication across the profession.

AO/Beck: What can you tell me about the first annual meeting of NAFDA, which was just held in August, 2000 in Washington DC?

Ault: We wanted to put together a convention that took the information we had gained at ADA, AAA and ASHA and expand upon it. Our primary focus was to bring all of the NAFDA students together and to focus all of the courses on the students. The thing that we really gained at NAFDA 2000 was the legitimization of NAFDA as the audiology student organization. There was an instant excitement from all AuD students. And they have a right to be proud. This was a wonderful convention

AO/Beck: How many people attended the meeting?

Ault: The total was 271 who attended most of the activities. There were others who just came for one day or course, but the every day attendance worked out to be 271.

AO/Beck: How many learning sessions did NAFDA have?

Ault: We had 16 courses at this convention. It was fantastic.

AO/Beck: I hate to do this to you Delbert, but would you be kind enough to name the people who presented, and the topics they presented on?

Ault: It's an honor to be able to name our educational presenters. They represent some of the best in our profession. Jack Katz gave us a comprehensive seminar on central auditory processing. Barry Freeman and Michael Marion motivated students with information on business and professional issues and Lucille Beck, Ian Windmill and Gerald Church discussed 'the AuD residency year.' Our Corporate Partners provided NAFDA 2000 with some of the most exciting educational presentations. Dave Smriga of GN ReSound is an Audiologist and one of the best educators in the profession. Tom Powers at Siemens proved to NAFDA 2000 attendees why he is considered one of the leaders in amplification and Francis Kuk from Widex amazed us with his presentation on compression. Widex also sent Claire Kilcoyne who discussed pediatric Audiology and she was terrific. Beltone USA President, Mike Skiera, and Business Director, Barb Vansomeren, gave one of the most talked about and appreciated presentations on the topic of patient care and market analysis. The Dean of the Georgetown University School of Business, Chris Puto, explained the strengths of a doctoral profession and our future business expectations. James Hall III, a leading educator on tinnitus and hyperacusis, was a presenter and Barbara Packer gave a great lecture on clinical supervision. Other well-known audiologists who presented include Raymond Hurley on evidence based audiology and Jay Lucker who discussed family and pediatric counseling. NAFDA members learned about CPT codes from Angela Loavenbruck and Brad Stach offered an excellent seminar called 'Clinical Things Your Professors Are Right About.' Barry Freeman wrapped up the sessions with a fun session called The Political Game.

AO/Beck: Delbert, is NAFDA managed by an executive board?

Ault: Yes. The current Board is one I appointed when the organization was founded 21 months ago. The Executive Board meets at the AAA annual convention and we also meet in January of each year when we announce our new officers. Of course, we'll now have a third Executive Board meeting each year, which we'll hold at he annual NAFDA Convention. This past August the executive board put together guidelines for the various NAFDA chapters and dealt with lots of operational issues. Currently there are 15 Au.D. programs, and within two years there will be 30 universities accepting students. So the Executive Board felt there was a clear need to assemble a guidelines manual to detail how to start new NAFDA Chapters, which officers to elect within each Chapter, and all the details related to operating the individual Chapters.

AO/Beck: Does NAFDA only exist in the colleges and universities which offer Au.D. programs?

Ault: Yes, that's correct from a membership and Chapter standpoint. But I want to suggest that NAFDA exists, or is at least functioning, in the major Audiology organizations. For example, NAFDA members are on AAA Boards and committees, we present at AAA and ADA, Advisory Board members come from EAA, MAA, VA, manufacturers and more. NAFDA meets and speaks with masters level Audiology students who are looking to transfer to AuD programs. NAFDA is very visible in all of the profession.

AO/Beck: I guess another big issue which faced the NAFDA Executive Board this past August was the issue of whether or not to allow non-Au.D., audiology students into NAFDA. In other words, my understanding is NAFDA has decided that audiologists or students seeking the clinical Ph.D., the SC.D., the Ed.D. and other non-Au.D. degrees will not be permitted to become members in NAFDA. I'm sure that was a tough decision. What can you tell me about that?

Ault: To be a member of NAFDA, you must be an Au.D. student. To be in NAFDA, you must be in a four-year program or a distance learning program. We also have an enormous alumni association and we have a large advisory board which includes professors, clinicians, manufacturers, scientists and others with expertise related to audiology. However, when we founded NAFDA and when we wrote the original bylaws, we decided that NAFDA should support and encourage AuD students and promote the AuD as the distinguishable, entry-level, unifying degree for all of Audiology. At NAFDA 2000 we decided to maintain the bylaws as they were originally written.

AO/Beck: By not allowing the Ph.D., the Sc.D. and the Ed.D. students to join NAFDA, do you think there is a chance the profession will be further fragmented, rather than united?

Ault: To the contrary, I believe that by maintaining our original stance, and abiding by the original bylaws, we strive to obtain one unified, distinguishable degree for all audiologists. Obviously that is the Au.D. designator. We will then be able to promote Doctors of Audiology by designator and by scope of practice to all of America. I think the Executive Board of NAFDA hopes to achieve the goal of eventually having one easily recognizable degree. We hope that any program that is unable, for whatever reason, to offer the AuD at this time, will be able to convince its university to approve the AuD and join the majority of programs in the nation who will offer the AuD. In a study I am working on now, of 48 programs that are in planning or approval stages for a clinical doctoral program in Audiology, only 5 think they are going to have a degree other than the AuD.

AO/Beck: Prior to reaching this decision, how long was the debate on this issue?

Ault: Actually, the Executive Board really struggled with this issue. Prior to NAFDA 2000, I appointed a committee to research and gather information from over 100 individuals and organizations or universities. All NAFDA officers studied the material before arriving in Washington, D.C. Once there, we listened to about ten hours of individuals bringing their thoughts and concerns forward to the Executive Board before we made the final decision. There were 74 people who gave their opinions and concerns to us. After all that time and all those opinions, it was clear to the Executive Board that we needed to take the stand for the one designator, the Au.D.

Ault: It's also important to understand that the decision is not a judgment against other students, programs, universities or degrees. We are taking a pro-Au.D. stance, but we are certainly not judging the other programs or degrees. In fact, NAFDA has just decided to help support Ph.D. research students by offering a two thousand dollar scholarship each year for the leading Ph.D. research student in audiology. Additionally, NAFDA has helped motivate and inspire Ph.D. students to come to the NAFDA meetings as our guests, and we invite them to write for our quarterly newsletter, NAFDA News. We're even offering a Ph.D research news page on the NAFDA website. So, I hope it's clear that we do believe the Ph.D. research programs are very important to NAFDA and to Audiology and to maintaining status as a profession. We must continue our own research.

AO/Beck: Very good. Let me switch gears a bit. Can you tell me how many people are enrolled in AuD programs and what's your best prediction related to the growth rate of the AuD?

Ault: Currently there are 251 Au.D. graduates working across the nation. There are 192 students enrolled in the four-year programs and 742 distance learning students. I think that by 2004 we'll have well over 3000 people practicing or enrolled in Au.D. programs.
Additionally, as you know, there were 118 audiology master's programs two years ago and now there are 96 programs. Of the 96, I have spoken with 78 of the programs. Some closed but others have converted to Au.D. programs. However, the big news is that 48 programs are in planning stages or have been approved to offer the Au.D. program.
I think this is great news and a very exciting time for the profession.

AO/Beck: Delbert, thanks so much for all of your time, energy and expertise. NAFDA is certainly a dynamic group and I think you should be very proud of what you've accomplished here.

Ault: Thanks for giving us the time and space and support through Audiology Online

Signia Xperience - July 2024


Delbert Ault, AuD

President, NAFDA (National Association of Future Doctors of Audiology)



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