For students entering healthcare professions, externships are of vital importance, offering the chance for real-world patient care experiences and network building that can lay the foundation for a successful career. As the University’s Osborne College of Audiology (OCA) Class of 2021 embarked on 18-month long externships around the country, administration and faculty gathered virtually to uphold the annual tradition of the externship celebration while practicing social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

OCA dean Radhika Aravamudhan, Phd, faculty and President Michael H. Mittelman, OD, MPH, MBA, FAAO, FACHE, shared words of encouragement with a small army of talented graduate students during the online event earlier this month, recognizing these students will have many challenges and experiences much different than their predecessors.

Externship celebration
“My best advice is pay attention and concentrate on becoming the best clinician that you possibly can be. You know your stuff because this is the best program in the country,” said Dr. Mittelman. “The nervousness that you’re feeling now is very normal. The pandemic will pass. But you will have been through this and done all of the arduous, intellectual and clinical necessities to get through this in an excellent way. That will make you a better clinician, a better professional and a better person. I wish you all a lot of luck as you move forward. You know we are always here for you. This is going to be a challenge. But you’re going to hit it out of the park and I’m so proud of all of you.”

Dr. Aravamudhan thanked the organizers of the event and expressed gratitude to the Class of 2021 for their dedication – despite the very unique circumstances.

“I truly missed graduation this year – the ceremony and the celebration. Nevertheless, we’re going to celebrate your successes and your achievements,” said Dr. Aravamudhan. “Thank you so much for your patience. I appreciate it. We crossed through some frustrating moments and difficult times that resulted in great conversations. I’ve always appreciated your class for your honesty. You have always come prepared – and you guys have it. So, congratulations and know we are here for you. Best of luck.”

Externship celebration
Accepting the challenge – as well as the opportunity – the Class of 2021 also offered advice to future students entering the University’s Doctor of Audiology program.
Abigail Possinger ‘21AUD: Connecticut ENT Medical and Surgical Specialists, Trumbull, Conn.
My advice for future audiology students is to not be so critical of yourself while you're still learning. Take each stumble as a lesson and become a better audiologist for it.
Alex Ross ‘21AUD: VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Mass.
My piece of advice for you would be just to take time to look back at all you've accomplished and everything you've learned up to this point, and that'll give you momentum just to keep pushing through and to finish strong. Good luck to you guys in your future endeavors. And I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe.
Amanda Shapiro ‘21AUD: VA Medical Center, Providence, R.I.
My piece of advice for the students that will come after me is to not neglect your personal relationships. I think it's really easy to feel trapped and use school or an upcoming exam or assignment as an excuse for why you can't spend time with your friends or family outside of here. But they're your support system and they're the ones that are going to be there when your time at Salus is done. So, make sure you keep those people close. It's important to take a break from school every once in a while. And good luck with the rest of your education. To my classmates, I look forward to seeing you guys next May at graduation.
Anna Demko ‘21AUD: Steward St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Brighton, Mass.
A piece of advice that I would have for the other years would be that, if you start to feel burnt out, just take a step back from schoolwork. Your schoolwork is important, but so is your mental health. Give yourself a day to relax when you feel you need it and surround yourself with family and friends because they'll give you that push that you need to finish strong. You got this.
Arantxa Rosario ‘21AUD: Cooper University Hospital, Camden, N.J.
My nugget of advice is to work hard but to also remember to take a break. It's really important to maintain a balance between school and the rest of your life. I wish you guys all the best with the rest of your time at Salus, and I can't wait to see everybody next year when we can all be together again.
Brittney Kelly ‘21AUD: ENT and Allergy Associates, Long Island, N.Y.
My advice for the underclassmen would be to simply ask questions. Whenever you feel confused, or if you don't get something, reach out to your professor, reach out to your preceptor or your cohort. Your friends are there to help you get to the finish line. And take advantage of the Salus tutoring. That's really great, and it will get you to where you need to be. So good luck to everybody, especially to my cohort. I wish you guys nothing but the best. It was a great journey that I will definitely cherish for the rest of my life. See you guys in 2021.
Cassie Stevens ‘21AUD: Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, Pa.
My biggest piece of advice for everyone would be to not beat yourself up over poor grades and to not be afraid to ask for help. You're all learning and you're all going to get through this, just like all of us have gotten through it. I want to wish you all the best of luck in the rest of your schooling. And I also want to wish my classmates the best of luck in your fourth years. I wish we could all be together today celebrating but I know you're all going to do great things and I can't wait to see you all again at graduation when we can finally celebrate becoming doctors of audiology.
Danielle Hayden ‘21AUD: NYC Hearing Associates, New York City, N.Y.
My advice is to make sure to make time for yourself. Your mental health is just as important as your grades. Good luck.
Dayle Paustian ‘21AUD: The Ear Institute at the University of Miami, Miami, Fla.
My advice to the underclassmen is to maintain a good work-life balance. So, anything outside of school, incorporate your favorite things to do, whether that's going on a hike or hanging out with your friends. Grad school, the days may seem like they go slow, but the semesters go by fast. So that's just my piece of advice. Good luck to everyone and enjoy the journey.
Elizabeth Labib ‘21AUD: A&E Audiology and Hearing Aid Center, Lancaster, Pa.
One piece of advice that I would love to share with you all is that it's so important that during this time that you find a mentor, whether it's an upperclassmen or, in my case, my mentor is an audiologist. And I can just say that she has helped me in so many ways and just given me so much wisdom and breadth of knowledge that it's just helped me to succeed in every step that I take, because I have somebody to look up to as a role model. I wish you all the best of luck. I hope that everything is going well. And stay safe during this pandemic.
Gina Lerner ‘21AUD: Penn Medicine, Philadelphia, Pa.
My advice to students who are graduating after me is to take the opportunity during a clinical rotation to ask questions. Your preceptors are there to educate you and teach you, and they want you to learn. They don't expect you to know everything. This is the time to learn and make mistakes before you get to your externships and before you graduate. So, don't be afraid to ask questions. Good luck.
Sam Johnson ‘21AUD: Audiology Associates, Santa Rosa, Calif.
My advice for younger classmen would be to take advantage of any conference opportunity you get. You never know who you'll run into and what you'll learn.
Madelynn Petrancuri ‘21 AUD: Aberdeen Audiology, Wayne, Pa.
My advice to current and future students is to try not to be so hard on yourself. It's really easy to get caught up with a bad test grade or a bad day in clinic, but it's okay to make mistakes because you'll learn from them and it'll help you become a better audiologist in the long run. So good luck and keep pushing.
Jessika Adam ‘21AUD: ENT Head & Neck Specialists, Wyomissing, Pa.
My piece of advice for you all is to not beat yourself up if you feel as though you're not understanding something as quickly as someone else, because we do all have our own strengths and weaknesses. So just be proud about how far you've come. I hope everyone is staying safe, and good luck to you all.
Kate Wolfe ‘21AUD: Coastal Hearing Center, Supply, N.C.
My piece of advice for the underclassmen would be to just take it one day at a time. It's going to go by really fast. I know you feel like you are forever away, but you will be here before you know it. So just try to sit back and enjoy the ride the best you can. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. Good luck.
Lisa DiCicco ‘21AUD: Associates in Hearing HealthCare, Marlton, N.J.
My piece of advice would be to believe in yourself, have confidence in yourself. I think you are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for. I also think it's important to remember that you guys are in this together. You're going to start together, and you will all end together. And if somebody is having a bad day, if they're really stressed out about an exam or credentialing, don't be afraid to reach out to them, see how they're doing, or even ask for help yourself. And just know that you're never alone in how you're feeling.
Jamie Abramson ‘21AUD: SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, New York City, N.Y.
Some advice I'd like to give to the underclassmen is to get a good night's rest. Staying up late and studying for midterms and finals and papers is helpful, but not getting a good night's rest can be detrimental to your testing. Therefore, I believe that taking self-care is super important during these three years of didactics. And I want to say, good luck. Enjoy.
Marisa Fassnacht ‘21AUD: Mailman Center for Childhood Development, Miami, Fla.
My biggest piece of advice would be to create a support system for yourself, whether it be friends and family from home or colleagues, peers, classmates, friends, anyone from Salus. These are the most important people for you. These are the people who understand what you're going through and who will push you to do your absolute best. Believe me, I understand things get overwhelming, things get tough. When you have a bad day in clinic or classwork and tests seem to be piling up, remind yourself to lean on your support system. They're the ones who are going to remind you that things are going to be okay. You're going to get through everything that is in front of you. And ultimately, you're going to come out being the best audiologist you can be because of these people and because of yourself. I'm very fortunate to have 31 classmates who were the best support system I could have had, especially my group of friends that I made at Salus. So, I want to wish everyone good luck in their future, and hopefully see you some time in the field.
Payton Burke ‘21AUD: Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.
My piece of advice for the younger years would be don't be afraid to get involved. There are so many opportunities at Salus to grow your leadership skills. So really step out of the classroom and try and get involved as much as you can because it can really make a difference in your time there and your experience.
Rebekah Mills ‘21AUD: Berks Hearing Professionals, Reading, Pa.
A piece of advice for you guys would be just to make sure that every once in a while, you take a break from your schoolwork and do something that you love. If it's working out, if it's painting, if it's baking, just do something that's not audiology. Because this program is so fast-paced and rigorous that it's really easy to get burnt out if you're not taking care of your mental health. So, do that, enjoy your time at Salus. It's shorter than you think it's going to be. And I wish you guys the best of luck.
Taylor Zavodnick ‘21AUD: ChristianaCare, Newark, Del.
My piece of advice for you would be to not compare yourself to anybody else. Some classes might be harder for your friends than they are for you. And some classes might be harder for you than they are your friends. Use each as a tool and use each other to lean on. Good luck, and I wish you the best.
Troy Scanlon ‘21AUD: SoCal Hearing West Valley, Los Angeles, Calif.
My advice to younger classes would be to just network and make those connections, especially with clerkships and externships. I would also say be confident in clinic. And have fun through these years at Salus because time really flies. Good luck.