Young Alumni: Payton Burke, AuD ‘21
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Young Alumni: Payton Burke, AuD ‘21

A question and answer session with one of our young alumni from the Doctor of Audiology program, Payton Burke, AuD ‘21

Payton Burke and 2 classmates outside of the Salus main entrance

Q: Why did you want to pursue a career in audiology?

A: When I first started undergrad I knew I wanted to be in healthcare. I just didn't know exactly what part of healthcare I wanted to be in. I started taking classes, found communication sciences and disorders, and really enjoyed it. I wanted to help people and hearing healthcare is such a unique part of healthcare that not a lot of people know, or are educated about. It can affect other aspects of [our] physical and mental health. Helping people navigate an uncertain time in their lives and introducing things like hearing aids, cochlear implants, and alternative communication like sign language, stood out to me.

Q: Why did you choose Salus?

A: I chose Salus for a couple of reasons. The first reason was the unique interprofessional education opportunities that the students have. Having the programs interact and being able to see how they will interact in the future is incredibly unique and amazing overall. The second reason was there are so many clinical opportunities in the area, not only being close to Philadelphia but having a huge hospital base around that geographic area. The private practice experience and clinical opportunities in the area stood out to me, as well as the on-campus clinic through the Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI). The last reason I chose Salus was for the biomedical foundation. The institution looks at healthcare overall, not just one program or focusing on one specific thing, but interacting with any healthcare professional you come in contact with. Having that foundation was unique and important to me.

Q: What have you discovered about your subject area as a grad student that you wish you knew as an undergrad student? 

A: There are many aspects of audiology that I had no clue existed. For instance, military audiology, intraoperative monitoring or bone conduction devices, which were introduced [to me] in undergrad, I didn't know much about them. I'm in the military now and military audiology is something I had no clue existed, but now I'm living it. I get to focus on, not just treating hearing loss, but preventing it. As well as educating our military service members on why we should be preventing hearing loss. There are so many different aspects of audiology that I didn't know existed, and grad school helped me explore those options.

Q: What do you feel is unique about the audiology program at Salus?

A: Salus has the largest audiology program in the country. [Having a large class size] leads to an incredible alumni base. Many people know about Salus and its reputation and know the students that they produce.

Q: What clinical experience made an impact on you while at Salus?

Payton Burke

A: I feel like every experience that I've had in the clinic has made an impression on my clinical abilities, and I think that's the point. You take certain parts from the clinical experiences and you shape your clinical ability. If I had to choose one, I completed a rotation at Temple University for a semester and they challenged me and my knowledge. They tested my independence as well, trusting my clinical judgment and not just relying on my preceptor. From start to end, that's where I saw the most growth in myself.

Q: Have you had any discouraging or especially triumphant moments in the classroom or clinic?

A: Yes to both. It is completely okay to have discouraging days. There were days when I left the clinic and thought “I don’t know why I'm doing this, I'm not helping anybody.” Then, there are some days when I can't wait to graduate. It's okay to have bad days, the bad days can be how you learn. Maybe a discouraging patient or a discouraging day can change your ability in the future. [It’s important to] not focus on one bad thing, but move on and learn from it.

Q: What was your favorite class?

A: I enjoyed multiple classes, so this is a hard question. If I had to pick one, it would probably be one of my vestibular classes. Vestibular is our balance center, it's unique and it made me think and challenged me to learn this other side of audiology that I didn't know existed.

Q: Were you a part of any clubs or groups on campus?

A: As a fourth year I was completely off campus, but when I was on campus I was involved. I was part of the student council executive board for two years. In my first year on the board, which was my second year at Salus, I was the executive assistant. Then my second year on the board, my third year at Salus, I was the president. I also tried to help out as much as I could with the Student Activities Committee. I was also a member of the Student Academy of Audiology.

Q: What was your study strategy?

A: When I was in class, I would take notes on my computer because I could type faster than I could write. When I was studying I would slow everything down and write it out. I rewrote all of my lecture notes and that helped me relearn it and almost engraved it into my memory.

Q: What advice would you offer a peer who might be struggling in a specific subject or class?

A: Don't be afraid to ask questions! Whether you're asking your professor, you're getting a tutor, or you're asking somebody in your class. Ask the question because that's the only way you ae going to learn the information. There were multiple times that I set up meetings with professors, stopped by their open office hours, or sent an email to clarify a topic.  

Payton after running a race, holding her medalQ: How did you feel supported as a student and an individual while enrolled at Salus?

A: I always felt supported when I was at Salus. Not only by the professors and the preceptors in the clinic but also by the staff around campus. It's a welcoming place. Whether it was stopping into an office to ask a question while I was studying or stopping and saying hi to Dr. (James) Caldwell and Monae Kelsey in the hallway. I always felt like people were there to help me succeed. That's what they want, they want us to succeed. 

Q: What advice would you offer an undergrad considering pursuing an advanced degree in this field?

A: Don't be discouraged if you have to take a year off or if you have to retake the GREs. If you don't get into schools the first time you apply, it's completely okay. In my last year of undergrad, I applied to two schools and got denied. I took a year off, retook my GREs, reapplied to five schools and got into my original two schools. Neither of them were Salus, if I had gotten in, it wouldn't have led me to where I am now. Everything happens for a reason, work hard, focus on yourself and focus on bettering your application. It will all work out in the end. 

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