NSU Student Academy of Audiology Travels to Capitol Hill

From left, front row, Doctor of Audiology students, Jessica Rubin, Mary Buckman and Erin Kelly. From left, middle row, audiology students, Ali Silverman, Samantha Englaish, Briana Stanikmas, and Tasha Takeshita. From left, top back row, faculty members, Patricia Gaffney and Alyssa Needleman.

On Friday, May 10, 2019, seven Nova Southeastern University Au.D. students and two faculty members, Patricia Gaffney, Au.D., associate professor, and Alyssa Needleman, Ph.D., clinic director and associate professor, traveled to Capitol Hill to advocate for the field of audiology.

This is the fifth consecutive year that NSU’s Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) has sent a group of students to Washington, D.C., to advocate for their future profession. As NSU’s SAA chapter strongly encourages members to be active participants in their future profession, this trip provides students with an unforgettable opportunity to raise awareness of the current legislation affecting the field of audiology on Capitol Hill. The success of previous trips enabled the chapter to continue this opportunity.

This year’s advocacy trip featured a group of NSU Au.D. students who come from all over the United States. The six second year Au.D. students and one first year Au.D. student collectively represented Florida, Tennessee, Hawaii, New York, and Massachusetts. All but one of the students, this was their first time advocating on Capitol Hill. Ali Silverman, NSU’s SAA Government Relations chair, attended last year’s advocacy trip and was passionate about sharing the experience with other SAA members by planning this years’ trip. Working with Susan Pilch, J.D., senior director of Government Relations, and Kathryn Werner, M.P.A., vice president of Public Affairs at American Academy of Audiology, it was possible for meetings with various congressional offices from the NSU students’ home-states to be arranged. Additional support was offered by Jodi Baxter, Au.D., assistant professor at Ohio State University, who was also on hand to assist the students with their meetings.

The day began with breakfast and a briefing of the legislation that would be discussed throughout the day. Students then attended meetings with the representatives of their home states. The home-state representatives were from the offices of Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL), Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Representative Ed Case (D-HI), Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Representative Peter King (R-NY), Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Representative Francis Rooney (R-FL), and Representative Timothy Burchett (R-TN). The NSU student advocates were all able to attend meetings in small groups ensuring each participant had the opportunity to take the lead and share their personal stories.

The Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2017 and the Access to Frontline Care Act of 2017 were previously introduced during the 115th Congress. Students were eager to continue to advocate for the passage of these bills. Additionally, students were granted a unique look at the development of a bill that will hopefully be introduced to Congress this year. The Hear Act will be a bill jointly proposed by American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Academy of Doctors of Audiology, and Academy of Audiology to amend Medicare to recognize audiologists as practitioners, allowing direct access and coverage for both diagnostic and treatment services.

This trip is an opportunity for students to get involved in a different aspect of their future profession. Collectively, all of the NSU student advocates felt that the trip provided insight into the positive and negative impacts that current legislation can have on the field of audiology. The students and faculty would like to thank everyone involved in the planning of this trip and those who contributed to its success!