AudiologyNOW! 2013 in Review

The following is a guest post from Jason Galster, Ph.D., Manager of Clinical Comparative Research for Starkey Hearing Technologies. Jason recently attended the AudiologyNOW! 2013 conference and provided us with this recap. 

From April 4-6, 9,000 audiologists gathered in Anaheim, California for AudiologyNOW! 2013—the annual meeting of the American Academy of Audiology. This meeting, the single largest hearing-related meeting in the world, is a four-day educational and commercial event

The 2013 meeting started with the one-day Academy Research Conference (ARC). Each year the ARC sessions focus on a single topic related to hearing science or care. This year’s topic was binaural hearing. Leading academic and industry researchers gathered during these sessions to share their recent research findings or reflect on past findings related to binaural hearing and the associated benefits.

The AudiologyNOW! meeting formally opened on Thursday morning with a general assembly. Highlights of the assembly included presentation of the President’s award for professional contribution to Kathy Foltner, Joseph Smalldino, Gail Whitelaw, and James Jerger. The session closed with a keynote presentation from futurist Jack Uldrich who reminded the audience of Abraham Lincoln’s insightful observation, “the best way to predict your future is to create it.”

Personally, I found the educational program of this 2013 meeting to be one of the most impressive to date. Starting each day with a 7:00 a.m. educational session certainly isn’t a recipe for the most relaxing conference ,but tempering the time with a cup of coffee was just the jolt I needed to push through each day’s packed schedule. The esteemed Richard Seewald took us on a tour of his 30-year journey through the evolution of prescriptive treatment strategies for pediatric hearing loss. As someone who maintains a passion for pediatric audiology, I will remember this session fondly.

A second memorable session was the annual year-in-review of hearing aid research. Reflecting back on 2012, Gus Mueller, Catherine Palmer, and Robert Turner each reviewed several of the most interesting publications in hearing aid research. The first article selected for review was one authored by my colleague at the Starkey Hearing Research Center, Sridhar Kalluri, who, in collaboration with Indiana University’s Larry Humes, published an excellent review of the impact that hearing aids have on the cognitive abilities of older listeners.

Outside of educational sessions the AudiologyNOW! meeting offers a wide array of meetings and ceremonies. On Wednesday evening, the Academy’s Honors and Awards Banquet was held to recognize individuals who have contributed significantly to the profession. My colleague at Starkey Hearing Technologies, James (Jim) Curran was honored with the Samuel Lybarger award for achievement in industry. Jim’s role as the first audiologist to privately dispense hearing aids during the 1970’s was a catalyst that quickly drove the profession toward the model of hearing aid prescription and dispensing we see today.

Continuing the topic of awards and recognition, I had the distinct pleasure to judge student research posters. From a wide range of candidates, the judges selected four poster presentations of exceptional quality. Each student presenter was recognized with a research award and photographed with academy and foundation leadership.

Of course, AudiologyNOW! is more than meetings, educational sessions, and awards ceremonies. On Friday night the Audigy Group and Starkey Hearing Technologies co-sponsored an outstanding social event that allowed everyone to relax, enjoy good music, excellent food, and great company.

By Sunday morning, we had spent almost a week in Anaheim with countless motivated professionals and good friends. This meeting will continue to change, to grow, and to be of greater utility to the practicing clinician. I’m looking forward to 2014 in Orlando. In fact, I’ll be coordinating the research content for next year’s meeting. Planning starts in three weeks!

By Starkey Hearing