Audiology doctoral programs play a crucial role, but they frequently struggle to cover essential aspects of practice management, particularly the indispensable business-acumen skills. As a result, Au.D. students may find themselves lacking the necessary preparation to navigate, succeed, and take on leadership roles in an increasingly competitive hearing care market.
Let’s unpack this significant gap in the curriculum, why instruction on practice management is important, and how we can ensure that future hearing care professionals are well-equipped with this crucial aspect of audiological studies. The good news? Addressing these gaps in the curriculum may be simpler than you imagine.
The Gaps Are Evident
Frequently, practice-management studies provide only a superficial understanding of what students require for success. In numerous Au.D. programs, there is typically just one course dedicated to business or practice management. Alternatively, this content may be integrated into a professional issues course or included in a weekly grand rounds session. This limits their exposure to essential practice-management topics and overall business acumen.
Identify the Critical Skills
Practice-management skills are essential for today’s emerging professionals — whether in a nonprofit clinic, an independent private practice, or a large medical center. Here are just a few of those important skills:
- Prioritizing results and accountability in clinic operations, as these aspects are crucial regardless of the specific work environment
- Standing out in today’s increasingly competitive market by being more efficient and effective than others
- Preparing to manage your own income and balance the books of a practice as a whole while meeting important performance goals, like helping patients and other key performance indicators
Changing the Tide
How can students gain the practice-management knowledge they need? As hearing care professionals, we must take ownership of this challenge collectively, including clamoring for our accrediting bodies to address practice-management skills as part of curriculum standards and requirements.
We also need to ensure universities are offering students opportunities to hone their skills with regard to practice-management activities. If you’re operating in a university clinic, for example, consider these questions:
- Are you or your team running the clinic in a manner that gives students hands-on experience with effective management strategies?
- Is practice management part of the students’ learning experience on campus before they leave for their externships or second- and third-year off-campus placements?
- Are students seeing practice-management strategies in action during the day-to-day activities at the clinic?
- Are the sites you’re partnering with for student off-campus experiences modeling best practices for effective business strategies that students will need to succeed?
Some universities now offer a concurrent Au.D. and MBA, giving students a potential advantage in the workplace and the industry as they emerge with a dual degree that leans into both the clinical and business sides of audiology.
Students, too, can ask important questions of the Au.D. programs they’re considering. It’s not easy — the application process doesn’t offer much investigative opportunity in this regard — but potential applicants can:
- Explore what types of practice-management courses are offered within the Au.D. curriculum
- Learn who the university’s Au.D. instructors are, including their backgrounds
- Ask about the university’s clinic operations, including its curriculum and key performance indicators
- Seek help connecting with students currently in the program to hear their own candid feedback
For their part, universities can help ensure this information is readily available, showcasing it as a market differentiator in student recruitment.
Audigy University is also here to help. We offer targeted resources for educational institutions interested in beefing up their practice-management content, including:
- Customizable on-site or web-based presentations by our subject-matter experts, including Amyn Amlani, Ph.D., a highly respected audiology professional, scholar, and member of the American Board of Audiology board of governors; Deb Abel, Au.D., a renowned expert on billing and coding and president of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology; and me, a doctor of audiology, a former practice owner, a professor, an American Academy of Audiology president, and a student-learning expert with firsthand experience launching, managing, and selling a successful hearing care practice
- An externship program that works with Au.D. programs, third- and fourth-year students, and business owners to place emerging audiologists with independent, AudigyCertified™, private-practice clinics committed to the highest levels of patient care and team empowerment.
Universities can play a role in making this information more easily accessible, highlighting it as a unique feature to attract students.
Audigy is here to help. We offer targeted resources for educational institutions interested in expanding their practice-management content, including:
- Customizable on-site or virtual presentations by our subject-matter experts, including Debbie Abel, Au.D., who has served as president of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology and is a renowned expert on billing and coding
- An externship program that works with Au.D. programs, third- and fourth-year students, and business owners to place emerging audiologists with independent, AudigyCertified™, private-practice clinics committed to the highest levels of patient care and team empowerment
Help shift audiology student education into high gear — encourage them to click the following link and scroll down to the form to sign up for updates on openings at our member practices, and get other relevant news directly to their inbox: https://www.audigy.com/about/aud-careers/.