President's Message 2017

A Message from CAA President Amber Powner, Au.D., January 10, 2017

On behalf of myself and the Board of Directors, welcome to the California Academy of Audiology (CAA)!  I am so thankful and privileged to have the opportunity to serve this wonderful state and organization as President in 2017.  I was fortunate to see the inner workings of the Board as the Northern California Representative for the past two years, only shortly after moving to California from Colorado.

The story of how I became an audiologist is pretty typical; a young girl with hearing loss found herself arguing with her mother over a music degree, and angrily opened her University catalogue.  As she didn‘t want to go into a major just for her parent‘s sake, and especially did not want to have a degree that required graduate school.  ’If I can‘t do music, she said, then I‘ll find something else!  Opening the book, she immediately pointed to the very first thing on the list.  Audiology!  I know what that is – I will just do THAT instead!  Little did she know, she found more than just a new college major (that, of course, broke her no graduate school ideation): she found her calling in life.

I like to think most people who meet me notice my passion for audiology.  After speaking at 2016‘s conference in San Diego, many of you learned that I am an advocate for hearing loss prevention, music care, and education.  (You know what happens when you put a hardhat up to your ear?  You can hear the OSHA.)  I absolutely love to teach and want to support students of Audiology across the state.  As our legislation has allowed for the University system in California to grow more programs in audiology, this is an exciting time to be a student supporter.  They are, after all, the future!

During my time in California, I have had the opportunity to work in a private practice setting, continuing to do both dispensing audiology and diagnostics, including vestibular work.  I have witnessed firsthand the negative impact of changing reimbursement rates for audiology testing and how it affects practices and patients alike.  The seemingly inevitable addition of over-the-counter devices looms in the future; while audiologists have strong feelings on this matter, we must remember that consumers see things differently, because they do not know any better.

My charges for 2017 are simple:

  1. Get Involved
  2. Educate Your Community
  3. Grow With The Flow

The primary reason to get involved in any organization, whether you choose to support
ADA, AAA, ASHA, or whichever representative group that you choose, is because they represent you and your needs.  They advocate for you at the lowest, and highest, levels of government.  They listen to your needs by offering opportunities to let your voice be heard, either by survey or an open door, or by offering the chance to lend your skills on a smaller scale than the Board of Directors.  Many, if not most, audiologists in the state of California are not members of CAA – the representative organization of audiologists here.  Our goal as a Board is to strive to meet all the needs of our audiologists, and represent one and all; if you do not let your voice be heard and be involved, you have no choice but to live with the decisions made in your absence.  Abstaining is silent agreement.  If you have needs, want your voice heard, and expect changes to be made, GET INVOLVED!

I witnessed a very eye-opening experience in Fall of 2017 with our Past President, Amy White; we attended a consumer-driven meeting regarding the PCAST recommendation of 2015.  As the speaker went through her slides, one can imagine how I would feel seeing many of the inaccuracies that were being preached to the consumer audience as total truth.   This experience really hit home, because it reminded me of a very simple truth: we tend to believe what we are told unless it is challenged.  So you have a job to do – in your clinics, in your local schools, in your homes, you have to challenge what consumers have been told.  Challenge the idea that a hearing aid is a commodity.  Challenge the thoughts of social stigma attached to hearing loss.  Challenge the idea that a hearing aid purchased online with programming software is the same as going to a qualified audiologist.  Challenge the concept that a diagnostic hearing evaluation is just a hearing test.  Challenge inaccuracies about hearing loss prevention, and provide it to all your patients.  If you don‘t educate your demographic, who will?  It is the burden of audiologists to complete these tasks.

Last, and certainly not least, we must learn to grow with the flow.  As changes come down the pipeline, from the elimination of PQRS as a requirement in billing, to the FDA ruling to stop requiring medical clearance, and the very real possibility that our profession will have to compete with over-the-counter options in the near future, we have to be prepared to build bigger boats and see where this takes us.  We can‘t keep building dams that merely stall the flood; we have to expand, to change, to become the profession we all wish it to be.  I challenge you to be optimistic, to find opportunities for growth, and allow the changes that will inevitably come to you as a vessel for helping more people in new ways.  If you cannot grow with the flow, you will soon be left behind!  Let CAA know how we can help you accomplish this, so we can keep everyone above the tide.

Did I put enough metaphors in my welcome message?  I certainly hope I didn‘t sneak a pun in there.  May 2017 be an aud-acious year for new opportunity and change!


Amber M. Powner, Au.D., CCC-A, F-AAA
CAA President 2017

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