Phonak Faces of Audiology: Five minutes with Stacey Rich, Manager of Pediatrics at Phonak HQ
AudiologyOnline: Stacey, through the Faces of Audiology campaign, we have learned that you started your career as a sign language interpreter. When and why did you decide to move on to audiology?
Stacey Rich: I started my career as a sign language interpreter in the US. I enjoyed that job a lot, and I can still remember some very special moments I experienced with my clients. For example, I got to interpret the birth of a child. But after a few years I realized that I was there to facilitate communication for a limited time. When I was in the room, the person who was deaf and the person who could hear were able to communicate easily. But the moment the appointment was over and I was no longer interpreting, communication became difficult again. I had taken an introduction to audiology class during my studies, which I really enjoyed, and so I decided to move on to audiology. I truly respect the deaf community and the job that sign language interpreters do, but for me this was a way to help improve communication for children with hearing loss and reduce the need to rely on an external person to facilitate communication.
AudiologyOnline: You have specialized in pediatrics. What makes this field of audiology so attractive in your eyes?
Stacey Rich: Pediatrics was a natural choice for me. I’ve always wanted to work with kids. I’m very at ease with them. My first job was in a large pediatric hearing center. I got to see the kids and their parents every couple of months, and I enjoyed watching them grow up over the years. You really build a relationship with those families and their kids. With newborn screenings becoming more established over the years, we have learned what a difference early detection and intervention can make. I love seeing what kids can achieve when we give them the absolute best access to sounds as early as possible especially for families that choose spoken language as their primary communication mode. This gives them access to spoken language, allows them to more easily interact with their family and build strong relationships that support developmental outcomes.
AudiologyOnline: Phonak has just launched Phonak SkyTM Marvel, its latest solution for children. Which are the main new features and how do kids benefit especially from the latest Marvel technology?
Stacey Rich: Phonak Sky™ Marvel is designed, inside and out, for children. With three world’s first innovations including our pediatric automatic which was introduced in 2016, Sky Marvel offers clear rich sound, direct connectivity to smartphones and Roger™ mics (and so much more) and a rechargeable model. For me, the most revolutionary feature is RogerDirect™ which allows Roger to be wirelessly installed in any Sky Marvel hearing aid and means children no longer need to wear an additional receiver or neckloop in order to access the benefits of Roger technology.
AudiologyOnline: Digitalization is one of the buzz words in our industry today. Do you think that features like direct streaming of phone calls and music or apps can help overcome the stigma and turn hearing aids into cool gadgets, especially for a younger target group?
Stacey Rich: I think most importantly, direct streaming gives children with hearing loss more access than ever before and yes, it does take a big step towards increasing the ‘cool factor’ for hearing aids.
AudiologyOnline: You are a mother of a toddler yourself. Has motherhood changed the way you look at your job?
Stacey Rich: I have always had a great passion for my job, but since becoming a mother myself there is an increased level of emotion in what I do, and I think I relate more to parents and what they may be feeling. On the other hand, my job has certainly influenced me as a mother. Through my work, I have learned that a child needs to hear 45 million words by the time they get to school in order to really prepare for academic success, which equates to about 30,000 words a day. In my first months with a new baby, I realized that 30,000 words is indeed a lot…One day I overheard my mom telling friends “She’s always, really always talking to the baby.” But back and forth interactions are even more important than the number of words a child hears. We have as many great conversations as possible throughout every day. She definitely keeps me laughing.
Learn more about what drives Stacey in her daily work and her current projects: https://audiologyblog.phonakpro.com/faces-of-audiology/staycey-rich