Heading Off Graduation Panic A new audiologist sought to help her peers launch and manage their careers with confidence, so she carved out a niche teaching nonclinical skills. In the Limelight
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In the Limelight  |   May 01, 2018
Heading Off Graduation Panic
Author Notes
  • Shelley D. Hutchins is content producer/editor for The ASHA Leader. shutchins@asha.org
    Shelley D. Hutchins is content producer/editor for The ASHA Leader. shutchins@asha.org×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Practice Management / Professional Issues & Training / In the Limelight
In the Limelight   |   May 01, 2018
Heading Off Graduation Panic
The ASHA Leader, May 2018, Vol. 23, 22-23. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.23052018.22
The ASHA Leader, May 2018, Vol. 23, 22-23. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.23052018.22
Name: Riley Bass, AuD, CCC-A
Title: Student Program Manager, Audigy
Hometown: Vancouver, Washington
The prospect of helping people via a health care profession always intrigued Riley Bass. As she studied communication disorders at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, she relished her audiology classes most, leading her to earn her clinical doctorate in audiology at Missouri State University.
Then a surprising realization hit Bass during her externship at a VA medical center in Phoenix. As much as she enjoyed the clinical work of audiology, she felt uncertain about more general career and business skills. She also didn’t know what type of work setting would best fit her interests.
Near the end of her externship, Bass interviewed for a job as an associate in a private practice. She didn’t get the job, but the facility was a member of the practice management group Audigy. The talent acquisition manager who interviewed her told her about Audigy’s 12-week summer program to guide new audiologists in launching their own practice. The annual program takes place at Audigy’s headquarters in Vancouver, Washington.
Bass hadn’t really considered starting her own practice, but was intrigued by the opportunity. She applied and was offered a spot for the 2013 session. After finishing her externship in June, she moved to Oregon.
A role of her own
A few weeks into the summer program, inspiration for her future struck Bass. And it had nothing to do with starting her own private practice. What impressed Bass was Audigy’s corporate culture and dedication to preparing new audiologists for careers. The company provides professional development and services to support practice owners with running their businesses.
Audigy’s summer program focused specifically on fast-tracking recent graduates toward private practice—the company provides management, marketing and human resource services for independent private practice owners—and Bass was interested in expanding Audigy’s reach beyond this focus. She wanted to work with future audiologists still in school to give them the confidence she felt she lacked when searching for next steps after graduation. Her idea involved teaching them career-management skills beyond just those needed to run a practice.
Bass approached the director of the summer program and asked about working for Audigy.
“There wasn’t an opening at the time,” Bass says, “but upper management let me pitch my ideas about helping audiology students learn business and career-development skills.”

“My goal is to make sure students graduate feeling confident and knowing what they want to do.”

The company was impressed by the young audiologist’s enthusiasm for helping students build confidence in nonclinical areas. They liked her ideas on expanding their preparation programs and felt her energy was a good fit for the company.
Audigy created a new position for Bass as staff audiologist. They hired her in October 2013, because, she says, upper management “saw the value in what I wanted to bring to the team.” Bass performed employee hearing tests, gave courses on hearing health, and helped provide training on what an audiologist does for managerial, financial and business experts who consult with private practice owners. After a year, however, Audigy reassigned her to one of the practices the company manages to help during a crunch, a move that also helped her maintain her clinical skills.
No one at Audigy forgot Bass’s zeal for helping students, however. Nearly a year after making the move to a private practice, she returned to the corporate office in early 2015 to help plan the company’s first student summit. Her insights on what audiology students would need from presenters and her ability to connect with and bring them to the event, led to her being officially named Audigy’s student program manager.
“My goal is to make sure students graduate feeling confident and knowing what they want to do—not like me,” Bass says. “Basically, I help them learn what I’ve learned over the past few years.”
Sell-out summits
The first student summit, in June 2015, drew about two dozen audiology doctoral candidates. Bass used memories of her own biggest concerns when finishing school to help create three days of programming. Courses focused on changes in the hearing health care industry, business operations and processes, and individual skills, such as managing personal finances.
Two more summits followed that year, both reaching the 30-person limit. Bass says keeping the groups small allows presenters to tweak courses based on attendee needs. This cap also lets participants get to know one another and the staff better.
“We intentionally focus the summit on networking, as well as courses,” Bass says, “so participants can build a support system of other audiologists.”
Bass now organizes a career preparation summit about every three months. The goal is to prepare audiology students for whatever career they choose, although the company does encourage the private practice option. Guest speakers include private practice owners and hearing assistive technology manufacturers. Audigy has hosted 330 students from 57 universities at the summits.
Bass finds most presenters from within Audigy’s internal team of specialists. She teaches courses on patient and co-worker interaction. Bass’s co-workers from the finance team share strategies on personal and professional wealth management—both in groups and in one-on-one meetings. Marketing and human resources staff also offer their expertise. Someone from the talent-recruitment team gives advice on job searches, writing resumes and interview skills. In addition, either the president or CEO talks to attendees about leadership and how to prepare for leadership positions.
Students compete for a spot in the summit, which is free to them. They can apply anytime after they enroll in an AuD program, but can attend only after completing their first full year. Bass explains that Audigy prefers applicants in their third or fourth years, because they’ll need practical career-management skills sooner.
“I’ve worked alongside people in the health care industry for more than five years, and I feel like I really fit in this role,” Bass says. “We help students excel in their careers by teaching them how to be leaders and influencers in the hearing health care industry. And we give them a place to turn when they’re uncertain about going out into the professional world.”
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