OSU Student Academy of Audiology members pose at Capitol Hill during their March 2016 trip. Credit: Courtesy of Kayla Fuzer

OSU Student Academy of Audiology members pose at Capitol Hill during their March 2016 trip. Credit: Courtesy of Kayla Fuzer

Ohio State audiology students took a break from the classroom to advocate for issues in their possible future profession on Capitol Hill.

Comprised of members of the OSU chapter of the Student Academy of Audiology, 15 students in their first, second and third years of doctoral studies went on the trip. This is the fourth year that OSU SAA students have traveled to Capitol Hill.

Kayla Fuzer, the president of OSU’s Student Academy of Audiology and a graduate student studying audiology, spoke about the importance of March’s advocacy trip.

“Here at Ohio State, we recognize that it’s important to be able to talk to elected officials who are going to be making decisions that are going to affect your patient care and working with your hearing-impaired individual, and it is also going to affect your future practice as a professional and as a future audiologist,” Fuzer said.

While in Washington D.C., the group had ten different meetings. They spoke to staff members for Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman and other Ohio representatives, Fuzer said.

Fuzer said there were four key issues covered, such as the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act, which called for a reauthorization to continue providing early intervention services for pediatric patients with hearing loss, and the Medicare Audiology Services Enhancement Act, in which the students advocated against.

Fuzer said that act would make patients’ audiological Medicare services need approval from a physician before audiologists can actually treat the hearing loss, even though they may have been diagnosed by the audiologist in the first place.

Jodi Baxter, a clinical supervisor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Science, spoke about why advocacy is important for students at the collegiate level.

“I feel that it is crucial for our profession to be serving as a voice that represents ourselves but more importantly for our patients, who need some of these services available to them,” Baxter said.

Baxter said she is excited to see students eager to advocate for their profession and have passion for it.

“That’s the type of passion and dedication that we hope to have in professionals throughout their entire career,” she said. “To see young professionals who care this much about what they do and about what they’re going to do and about their patients is really exciting for me as a current professional and trusting that our profession will be in good hands down the road.”

Fuzer said she is optimistic about the future of her profession and efforts in advocacy.

“A lot of (representative’s staff members) remember us from when we were there previously, and when we go to say, ‘How familiar are you with the field of audiology?’ you don’t have to explain that because it’s something that they are already well versed on … we have been able to see our efforts come to fruition,” Fuzer said.