Audiology Graduates Find Their Niche
In the third and final year of Pacific's doctor of audiology (AuD) program, students embark on their externships. Annie Ha '18, AuD, Eun "Rudi" Kim '18, AuD and Hayley Shillington '18, AuD were among the 17 students who made up the inaugural AuD class. They shared memorable patient interactions and how those experiences have shaped their plans for the future.
Dr. Ha stayed in San Francisco for her externship at the Hearing and Speech Center of Northern California, a nonprofit organization that serves thousands of patients in the Bay Area who have communication difficulties.
Dr. Kim's externship took her to Orange County Physician Hearing Services, a private practice that offers a wide variety of services, from newborn hearing screenings to cochlear implants, as well as bone-anchored hearing aids activation and mapping.
Dr. Shillington's externship was at the University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) Medical Center, a dynamic, fast-paced medical setting that serves a diverse population of all ages. Shillington had an emotional experience early on that she will remember for the rest of her life.
"In one of my first weeks at UCLA, we saw a 2-week-old baby girl who had failed her newborn hearing screening in both ears," she said. "As a follow-up, she came to UCLA for an auditory brainstem response test. When the test was complete, I was the person to break the news that their perfect baby had a significant hearing loss in both ears."
"I saw their disappointment turn to hope when they learned that a cochlear implant could help their precious child obtain oral language," Shillington continued. "I've had the privilege of following this patient throughout the cochlear evaluation process. It's been so rewarding to watch her parents develop into knowledgeable advocates for their child."
Ha and Kim are bilingual, letting them connect with their patients through a common language and cultural background. Ha explained, "At this time, I am the only person in the audiology department that can speak Cantonese. I am having a wonderful time seeing these patients because I can relate with them culturally and am able to communicate with them in their language."
"When Korean-speaking patients hear me greet them in Korean, I see their faces light up with a big smile followed by a sigh of relief," said Kim. "I grew up in an immigrant family and my parents speak minimal English. I understand the challenge of finding health care providers who can speak your native language and understand your culture. It is incredibly exciting that I can serve Korean-speaking patients and connect with them on a much more personal level."
Through this immersive, yearlong clinical experience, all three audiologists have found environments in which they thrive. Kim will join the team at Orange County Physician Hearing Services as a clinical audiologist. She describes her fellow audiologists as "extremely knowledgeable and yet so humble, kind and compassionate.
"A native San Franciscan, Ha has accepted a position as a clinical audiologist at Audiological Services of San Francisco. "I've always wanted to go back to work at the place where I fell in love with audiology," she said.
In planning her next steps, Ha focused on the community she wanted to serve. "I've had numerous opportunities to participate in mission trips all over the world to aid underserved communities, but one thing that Dr. Rupa Balachandran (Audiology Department chair) said stayed with me: 'There will always be a need at home, always remember where you came from.'"
Shillington has found her niche with pediatric audiology. "I never expected this to be my calling, but I'm happy I found my place," she said. She has accepted a position at UCLA Medical Center. "I love the dynamic environment and the variety in my day-to-day work."
Shillington also is appreciative of the opportunities she had at Pacific.
"I'm so honored to be a member of the accomplished group of graduates in Pacific's inaugural AuD class. I originally learned about the program as a Pacific undergraduate student. I knew it was going to be an exceptional opportunity. The accelerated, year-round schedule was especially appealing to me. This was one of the best decisions of my life. I'm so proud to add the Pacific doctor of audiology degree to my Pacific bachelor of arts degree."
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about the author
Anne Marie H. Bergthold
Anne Marie H. Bergthold is the Marketing Coordinator for Pacific's Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy.