This was written by Kris English, Ph.D., American Academy of Audiology Past President (2009-2010), probably in 2010. Still relevant to our profession today.
In the last three months, I’ve been privileged to visit state academies in Florida, California, Colorado, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Texas. Although each state has its unique challenges, they also share this common concern: only about 20 percent of the audiologists in each state belong to the state chapter. In other times in our history, that might not have been particularly worrisome. But in this era, when our scope of practice is under direct attack at the state licensure level, our state leaders want to speak for us from a position of strength. They want to report they represent most audiologists, not a small handful of audiologists.
What would help the other 80 percent show up? If there is a fear of being tapped for volunteerism, don’t worry, that’s not what I’m suggesting. Not everyone can show up “in person,” as it were, but there’s always a way to show up “in spirit:” simply by becoming a dues-paying member.
These are challenging economic times, and it’s certainly reasonable to ask, “What do I get for these dues?” That’s a fair question, and the answer often includes tangibles such as valuable CE opportunities. But the core value of professionalism takes us further, to ask an additional question: “What does my profession need from me?” It’s not the usual way we operate in this world, but it does demonstrate the difference between a job and a profession: our obligation to give back.
Right now, what state organizations need is numbers. They need every audiologist to be counted as a member. They cannot speak for you if you are not on their roster. They may not be able to protect your scope of practice if you don’t show up for them. We’ve all heard the Woody Allen line that 90 percent of work involves showing up, and it makes us laugh because showing up is the least one can do. What if 90 percent of audiologists show up for this work, by becoming members of one’s state organization? It’s the least we can do, and yet licensure boards would have to listen.