Six Questions with Starkey Entrepreneurial Audiology Program Students

Twice per year, Starkey Hearing Technologies hosts an Entrepreneurial Audiology program for  Au.D. students reaching the end of their third year, in their fourth year, or who are recently graduated. The Entrepreneurial Audiology Program consists of five two-day sessions spread out across a period of six months and is designed to give Au.D students a real-world look at owning their own hearing practice.

Carolyn Pinkerton Au.D., works closely with students in this program as an Education and Training Audiologist with Starkey Hearing Technologies. She recently asked a few program students about their experiences as an Au.D. candidate and their time in the Entrepreneurial program, including the exciting opportunity to participate in a Starkey Hearing Foundation mission to the Dominic Republic.


Randi Leigh Davis - 4th year Au.D. candidate at Missouri State University

Ashley Hughes - 4th year Au.D. candidate at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Alexandra Klein - 4th year Au.D. candidate at University of South Florida

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Randi Davis: In five years I hope to be on the way to owning my own private practice!

Alex Klein: In five years I see myself settled in a private practice with an established patient base and knowledge of my community. I hope to be surrounded by coworkers that have the same vision as me in helping our patients.

How has the Entrepreneurial Audiology Program helped you towards your professional development and goals?

Ashley Hughes: The Entrepreneurial Audiology Program provided me with a deeper understanding of individualized patient interaction, private practice management/ownership and the hearing aid industry. Completing the program provided me with an understanding of the intricacies involved with opening a practice, advantages and disadvantages of exit strategies, how to keep a practice flourishing, and more. Every trip to Minnesota seemed to be better than the last. However, the best part of the program is the feeling of being part of the Starkey team. Regardless of what setting I work in, I know these colleagues will be an invaluable asset.

Randi Davis: The Starkey Entrepreneurial Audiology Program has given me the confidence and skills to know that owning my own practice is not that far from my reach.

Alex Klein: The program has helped me truly understand what is involved in private practice. I can appreciate the costs of hearing instruments and different approaches to take with our patients. I feel that I have many resources now that I can use for a variety of situations. 

What do you want to be known for in the audiology community?

Ashley Hughes: As an audiologist, I would like to be known for following best practices, working well with colleagues, and advocating for the profession.

Randi Davis: I want to either own a practice or work at a practice that has a good reputation. I want my practice to be known for the recommended standard for exceptional patient care. I want not only others in the audiology community, but patients alike to know that the highest standard of care will be given when they visit me!

Alex Klein: I want to be known for being a hard working, respectable and knowledgeable clinician. Advocacy has always been important to me so I can see myself becoming more involved in that.

You recently participated in a unique opportunity to attend a Starkey Hearing Foundation mission in the Dominican Republic. Were there any particular stand-out moments?

Ashley Hughes: Traveling to the Dominican Republic with the Starkey Hearing Foundation was a once in a lifetime experience. The entire trip was a completely irreplaceable experience that will leave a lasting impression on me, both personally and professionally. I was amazed at how quickly we were able to build rapport with patients in the Dominican Republic, although we couldn’t speak the same language. This reinforced information gleaned from the Entrepreneurial Program: it truly is about how you approach your patients and showing that you care.

Randi Davis: My stand out moment had to be the very last patient I saw during the mission. He was a child who communicated through signing and we couldn’t get a powerful enough hearing aid to work for him. We decided to try a body aid. The moment we turned it on his eyes lit up and him and his father were both so excited! It was an inspiring moment to see him wearing his body aid and not caring about cosmetics, etc. I still think about this little boy and how Starkey giving him this exposure to sound could possibly have changed his future!

Alex Klein: It is difficult for me to pick a specific moment because the whole trip was life changing. To pick a few highlights, I would have to say working with the Dominican volunteers and getting to know them, their work, their goals, and what the experience also meant to them. Another highlight would be the big smile on one of my patient's faces when the medal was put around his neck after he was fit with his hearing aids. 

What advice would you give to someone thinking about pursuing his or her Au.D?

Ashley Hughes: The next four years will be full of studying, work and long nights. Focus on the goal; remember that after these four years you’ll have the ability to work with your patients to help improve lives every day! Give graduate school everything you’ve got, and you’ll surprise yourself with the things you can accomplish.

Randi Davis: GO APPLY NOW. Audiology has so many different paths –  you can find a true passion and really specialize! Make sure to experience as much as you can so you can find what really makes you excited in the field.

Leave your future self a message.

Ashley Hughes: Remember how much you love your job and the people you’ve met through your field!

Randi Davis: Remember to enjoy the moment. The majority of things you are going to worry about happening are never going to happen! Trust your gut. Don’t be afraid to chase after what you really want!

By Starkey Hearing