Harnessing the Winds of Change The Convention was fantastic—thank you to all who came to my Sweet Home Chicago! Our convention theme was “Celebrating the Winds of Change.” In my presidential address—and indeed throughout this year—change was at the core of my message. In my convention speech I highlighted our strengths and our tradition of ... From the President
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From the President  |   December 01, 2008
Harnessing the Winds of Change
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School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News & Member Stories / International & Global / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / From the President
From the President   |   December 01, 2008
Harnessing the Winds of Change
The ASHA Leader, December 2008, Vol. 13, 19. doi:10.1044/leader.FTP.13172008.19
The ASHA Leader, December 2008, Vol. 13, 19. doi:10.1044/leader.FTP.13172008.19
The Convention was fantastic—thank you to all who came to my Sweet Home Chicago! Our convention theme was “Celebrating the Winds of Change.” In my presidential address—and indeed throughout this year—change was at the core of my message. In my convention speech I highlighted our strengths and our tradition of excellence and evidence, along with changes affecting clinical practice and enhancement of that practice by new research. We are ready to harness the winds of change. Why? Because of our professional dedication, our knowledge, and our continued learning.
Having a national certification program protects us from encroachment and gives us a strong professional identity through commonly held and recognized standards. Many other professions appear to change their standards state-by-state or even locally. As certified speech-language pathologists and audiologists, we are recognized by government agencies, funding sources, and other professions because they can count on who we are and what we know. As a result, we have the essential tools to manage change. Our CCCs demonstrate to the world our commitment to excellence and give us a solid foundation on which to build our professions.
Our belief in lifelong learning demands that we continue to examine the evidence about the efficacy of what we do. This demand was very clear to me when I recently gave a talk to graduate students at Rush University. As I told them about my inner-city work with Leap Learning Systems, one brave student said, “We are being bombarded with ‘evidence-based practice.’ But do you have evidence that what you do is accomplishing what you say?” Because of our commitment to research, I could say yes.
But this question is important—it’s exactly what we are asking of ourselves, and I would like to thank the teaching faculty at Rush and other universities for drilling home the need for evidence and excellence in all we do. We are fortunate that our standards are based on the latest in research and best practices, and that we have such remarkably talented scientists in our discipline to help build our base of evidence. Although it is paramount that we hold on to our national certification, it is also vital that we recognize that in this new era we will be judged by our outcomes and paid accordingly in all settings—schools, health care settings, university clinics, and every other workplace.
In addition, our professional roles are migrating toward an emphasis on using our expertise as team members rather than individual professionals. We can see this change in our service to students under Response to Intervention (RTI), cochlear-implant recipients, and soldiers returning with disorders of hearing and cognitive function. For school-based SLPs, RTI is becoming the mandate that says that we are responsible for all students, not just the “special” ones. Helping all students achieve their full potential by utilizing their strengths to overcome their challenges has always been a core part of our practice; it is now the basis for general education as well.
Young veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are enduring and surviving more blast injuries than ever before, leaving these young soldiers with disorders of cognition and auditory function in numbers not seen before. We are the professionals who will be there to help them when they return.
The winds of change also are sweeping the world, and I’ve met members who are providing services in Kenya and Bolivia, and many other members have collaborated with international colleagues to help bring services and new training programs to developing countries. Further, our international agreements help us share information with our sister organizations worldwide and provide our members with new and unprecedented portability of their skills. Our professions are riding the winds of globalization.
Our ability to manage all these changes comes in part from the strength of our numbers, and the impact of what audiologists and SLPs can accomplish together. Washington hears ASHA’s voice. We are primary movers and shakers in working with government agencies concerning coding, reimbursement, funding streams, regulations, and advancements in practice and service delivery models. However, being a diverse organization of more than 130,000 means that each member’s voice must be heard.
Consider your connection to ASHA. Are you linked to ASHA through your area of expertise, work setting, or knowledge needs? Wherever there is a connection—through special interest divisions, publications, chat rooms, or boards and committees—you have a home in ASHA. Come claim that home. While doing so consider your opportunity to mentor and encourage others to find their professional homes. When you mentor a grade-schooler, undergraduate, new professional, or young researcher, you help build the numbers of SLPs, audiologists, and scientists that keep our discipline growing.
With a strong foundation of evidence-based practice and a professional home in ASHA, you can flourish and be strengthened by the winds of change. Be the best SLPs and audiologists you can be. Remain true to giving the best of what you are to all you serve.
In doing so, I believe that we as professionals will achieve our own professional destiny and ASHA’s vision: “Making communication, a human right, accessible and achievable for all.”
Thank you for the privilege of serving as your president. The winds on which I have ridden this year will keep me soaring for years to come.
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December 2008
Volume 13, Issue 17