Audiologist Returns to Her Roots Name: Lori Williams, AuD, CCC-A Title: Clinical audiologist, Phoenix (Arizona) Indian Medical Center Hometown: Faith, South Dakota Lori Williams performs otoacoustic emissions testing on Wui Silentwalker at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center. When Lori Williams was working as a speech-language technician in South Dakota, wondering where ... In the Limelight
Free
In the Limelight  |   August 01, 2011
Audiologist Returns to Her Roots
Author Notes
  • Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor and writer for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.
    Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor and writer for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Professional Issues & Training / In the Limelight
In the Limelight   |   August 01, 2011
Audiologist Returns to Her Roots
The ASHA Leader, August 2011, Vol. 16, 28. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.16082011.28
The ASHA Leader, August 2011, Vol. 16, 28. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.16082011.28
Name: Lori Williams, AuD, CCC-A
Title: Clinical audiologist, Phoenix (Arizona) Indian Medical Center
Hometown: Faith, South Dakota
Lori Williams performs otoacoustic emissions testing on Wui Silentwalker at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center.
When Lori Williams was working as a speech-language technician in South Dakota, wondering where to take her education and career, she noticed a flyer on a bulletin board that advertised a graduate-level Native American speech-language pathology and audiology program at the University of Arizona in Tucson. As a young woman who was close to completing her bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing sciences and just needed a push in the right direction, she applied for the program and was accepted. Before she began classes, however, she recalls having to sign a contract that stated it was expected she would work with the Native American population after graduation. It was a moment, she said, that she’ll never forget.
“I know that people go through programs and quit, but I thought it was funny because all I could think was, ‘Well, that’s what I want to do anyway, so this is perfect!’” she said.
But Williams had more of a connection with the Native American population than other students. She grew up on a ranch on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, near Faith, S.D. As a member of that tribe, she was involved in the reservation’s culture. Her mother was a community health representative who organized health clinics for the reservation. It was during these clinics that Williams got her first exposure to audiologists who would come and conduct testing. She remembers her mother being close to these providers, often having them over for dinner at the family’s home.
“They would come out to our house and that’s probably what made me think of these professions when I was applying for colleges, because growing up you wouldn’t really know what a speech-language pathologist or audiologist is,” she said. “It clicked in my head early as something that might be interesting to do.”
After graduating with her master’s degree in audiology from the University of Arizona in 1988, Williams was hired by the Phoenix Indian Medical Center and has been there ever since. Today, Williams does much of what she observed others doing during those childhood clinics. Although she sees patients in the medical center in Phoenix, she also travels by car or even airplane to many different tribes throughout Arizona and Nevada—mostly day trips, sometimes staying for a week at a time. Each tribe has its own language and culture, but usually the patients will come with a family member who can interpret if needed, said Williams. And also, she said, it helps that she is Native American, too, and has some cultural understanding about where they are coming from and what it’s like to live on a reservation. She also feels that she can relate to her patients because she, too, received all of her health care from the Indian Health Service.
“My parents always told me to thank the doctors that treated us, because they didn’t have to be there—they could be practicing somewhere else. I feel like my patients appreciate the stability and the commitment that I represent.”
Williams said she plans to stay with Phoenix Indian Medical Center for the foreseeable future. She finds the work fulfilling and enjoys the challenges each day brings. But, she said, she knows it can’t last forever and admits to keeping an eye on the future of the people she serves by starting with the youngest patients.
“I always talk to the children I see, asking them what they like and what they want to study in college,” she said. “There’s always one who says, ‘I want to do what you do,’ and it always makes me smile.”
Contact Lori Williams, AuD, CCC-A, at lori.williams@ihs.gov.
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
August 2011
Volume 16, Issue 8