February 15th, 2023 --- School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) faculty continue to shine with awards that reflect their transformative contributions to the health care community. The American Academy of Audiology is honoring Catherine Palmer, professor and interim chair in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders (CSD), professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, and director of Audiology at UPMC with the Honors of the Academy award. This is given to an audiologist in recognition of their exceptional support of the field of audiology by focusing on issues in the profession and ones that directly affect consumers who have hearing loss and balance disorders.
Palmer was nominated by fellow Academy members who called attention to her impactful leadership and service in audiology with contributions in clinical practice, research, education and advocacy. “Being nominated by people who have played a critical role in the very achievements that are being celebrated is really humbling,” she said. “This award is a result of my incredible good fortune in having a career at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC with colleagues who are always focused on what is best for the people we serve whether that be our patients or our students.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Palmer served as Academy president and deftly led the organization to become an invaluable resource for audiologists as they navigated the uncertainty of how to continue helping their patients. In her award recognition, the Academy made it clear that “Under her keen leadership, the Academy produced a wealth of resources for audiologists who sought to keep their offices open by implementing safe practices and alternate care models such as tele-audiology. Dr. Palmer’s calm and instructive communications, and her heroic guidance, were truly critical for guiding the profession of audiology during that historic and disruptive period.”
The Academy also noted how Palmer successfully rose to the challenge of chairing their task force in response to the FDA ruling on over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. She demonstrated her commitment to patient care and advocacy by providing realistic, research-driven concerns for how consumers would be effected and bridging relationships between audiologists and policy makers.
Pitt CSD students have been studying under Palmer and contributing to audiology research since she joined the Pitt faculty in 1990. Her passion for teaching and providing meaningful direction to students’ careers earned her the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring in 2015, which recognizes professors who have nurtured their doctoral students’ professional and personal development.
SHRS Dean Anthony Delitto said about Palmer, “Throughout her career, Dr. Palmer has been a tireless advocate for her patients with hearing loss, and the Honors of the Academy award recognizes Catherine Palmer for her lifelong and highly impactful leadership in the field of audiology. She has been the consummate faculty leader here at SHRS, serving the dual roles of program director in Audiology as well as directing the audiology services at UPMC.”
The Academy asked each 2023 awardee what achievement they are most proud of, to which Palmer answered, “The results of the team we’ve built here at University of Pittsburgh and UPMC. This team is responsible for our nationally recognized teaching conference, our funded research program innovating hearing care delivery and our ability to serve Southwestern Pennsylvanians in need. Without this team, I wouldn’t have the luxury of serving the Academy. My good fortune can’t be overstated and I can’t wait to see what our team does next.“
Awardees will meet for a ceremony at the American Academy of Audiology conference in Seattle this April. Many from the Pitt and UPMC audiology community will gather along with other colleagues from across the country to give a huge round of applause to Palmer for her continued contributions as a respected and influential leader in the world of audiology.