One is the Loneliest Number, So Go Online The only educational audiologist in a four-county school system relies on a combination of social media—Twitter, listservs and discussion forums—to network with colleagues. Get Social
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Get Social  |   January 2016
One is the Loneliest Number, So Go Online
Author Notes
  • Caleb McNiece, AuD, CCC-A, is an educational audiologist for the Mid-Shore Special Education Consortium serving four county-wide school districts on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. cmcniece@gmail.com
    Caleb McNiece, AuD, CCC-A, is an educational audiologist for the Mid-Shore Special Education Consortium serving four county-wide school districts on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. cmcniece@gmail.com×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / Get Social
Get Social   |   January 2016
One is the Loneliest Number, So Go Online
The ASHA Leader, January 2016, Vol. 21, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.GS.21012016.np
The ASHA Leader, January 2016, Vol. 21, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.GS.21012016.np
Just out of graduate school, I found a great position working for a rural special education consortium. (Un?)fortunately, I’m the only educational audiologist for the four counties I serve. As Three Dog Night says, “One is the loneliest number!” Being both a new and an only audiologist, I greatly expanded my personal learning network (PLN) to surround myself with resources to help me succeed.
Audiologists and speech-language pathologists in a variety of settings might find this approach useful. We often find ourselves working as a department of one or two. We leave grad school with a wide variety of clinical experiences and knowledge, but our first jobs probably put us in never-before-encountered situations. My supervisors are wonderful, but they aren’t audiologists. So although they share plenty of information regarding special-education policies, they can’t offer much help with audiology-specific questions.
Virtual resources and networking quickly became key to my career. I make a point of keeping in touch with friends I made in my graduate school program as well as people I met through NSSLHA and at various conferences. Taking advantage of groups specific to educational audiology offers abundant benefits important as well. I joined the Educational Audiology Association, which produces a listserv used by educational audiologists around the country to compare notes on how our various schools handle things, such as FM system procurement and management. Members also offer tips on helping students with various technologies and dealing with captioning, interpreters, testing accommodations and many more informative discussion points.
For example, I work with a high school student with hearing loss who is interested in nursing. She takes a course through the high school that will enable her to get her certified nursing assistant license. An important skill for nurses is using a stethoscope. Obviously, hearing loss affects the ability to use a stethoscope. As a way of meeting her specific educational needs, I ordered an amplified stethoscope for her. The ThinkLabs One is a digital stethoscope that has a built-in amplifier, which she can use with circumaural headphones. In addition, the stethoscope interfaces with an iPhone app to create audio recordings and visual waveforms and spectrograms. Another resource I plan on sharing with her is The Association for Medical Professionals with Hearing Loss, which features a student mentor program.
Being able to help that student by finding the amplified stethoscope and mentoring program shows what a thriving PLN provides for me—and therefore my students. I left grad school with the vague idea that amplified stethoscopes existed, but I had never worked with one. In this instance, a blog I follow offered a solution: AU Bankaitis, vice president of an audiology supply company, routinely blogs about her passion for assistive listening devices.
Even though many of us work independently, we can tap into this huge pool of collective information, research, cutting-edge technology and advice from colleagues we meet in person or online and follow them, like or comment on their posts, email them, instant message them or tweet them. I encourage each of you to cultivate your own network. I see many insightful discussions on ASHA Community pages, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, listservs and more. Even as a lone practitioner serving multiple schools, clients or facilities, we can continually learn and develop as professionals by staying on top of this knowledge pool the Internet allows us to easily access.
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January 2016
Volume 21, Issue 1