Hey! My name’s Tracey and I am a third-year (what! what!) student in the Salus University Osborne College of Audiology! My, how fast time flies. Before coming to the suburbs of Philadelphia, I attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. (Go Dukes) for undergrad where I graduated with a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Entering college, I had a love for American Sign Language, Deaf culture, and the process of communicating but very little knowledge of whether I wanted to enter the path of Speech-Language Pathology or Audiology…
As a kid, the term “audiologist” or “audiology” used to make me shudder – I told myself I would grow up to be anything but an audiologist – you see how well that is turning out. The reason for the shudders - I was born with a hearing loss in both of my ears and got the “privilege” to test out many different hearing booths and audiology games as a child – every six months in fact - to monitor my hearing. However, at the time, hearing technology wasn’t what it is today. My audiologists were unable to provide a hearing device that would benefit my type of loss appropriately; thus I went through school hiding my hearing loss as best I could, and dreading my hearing tests. That all changed when I was introduced to the strides that the field of audiology has made for all types of hearing loss in my Intro to Audiology class! Finally - I instantly felt the connection with the field. I now have my own set of hearing instruments and have worked every day throughout my clinical experiences at Salus University to help empower patients of all ages with hearing loss and balance disorders achieve their full potential.
Now that you see where I came from and what I’m about, let me introduce you to what it’s like to be in my shoes as a third-year student in Salus University’s Doctor of Audiology program.
More Clinical hours - less classroom hours… (kind of )!! With third year also comes fourth year externship placement applications (oh yes… almost a year in advance), preparing for the Audiology Praxis exam (months in advance… if not sooner), and balancing clinic, class, and your personal life.
In the third year, students commonly spread out from the University’s Elkins Park campus based on their clinical placements and hometowns – if they’re close enough that is.
For me, I spend the majority of my week a few states south in Virginia.
Monday Morning, 4:45 a.m.: That dreadful alarm goes off and not 30 seconds later, but my wonderful 60lb Plott Hound is nose to nose with me, tail wagging. I put my sweatshirt on over my head and out the door for a quick walk we go.
5:00 a.m.: Feed the dog, shower, and force myself out of the warmth to get ready for a nine-hour day of clinic… as quickly as I can.
6:00 a.m.: I’m (hopefully) out the door, usually with a bag full of Cheerios for the ride, and starting my hour plus drive up I495 and I95 to my off campus clinical placement in Maryland – it’s here where all the magic happens! Spending time in a busy ENT practice this semester, I get to see a variety of patients from pediatrics to adults with a variety of reasons for coming in. I get to interact with ENT physicians, working on pre and post-op audiologic evaluations, vestibular evaluations, electrodiagnostics, hearing aid evaluations and fittings, cochlear implant mapping, and the list goes on. I am constantly moving around, constantly busy, and constantly loving it!
4:30ish p.m.: Time to buckle up, jam out to some tunes, and turtle my way back down I95 and I495 back into Virginia!
6:00 p.m.: I pull up back at home – luckily my roommates get home earlier than me to let my four-legged love outside. It’s a quick bite to eat of whatever is easiest to cook in the least amount of time (unless my roommate has been kind enough to start dinner before I arrive and nice enough to share). I am not a chef AT ALL – add it to the list of why I chose audiology. This all has to happen before my online webinar class at 7:00 p.m.
7:00 p.m.: Online Webinar class starts. For one hour, our entire class logs onto Blackboard Collaborate to meet with our teacher in real time! There is a live chat feed for us to share ideas and answer questions – it’s interesting – but attending class in my slippers and sweatpants isn’t all that bad.
8:00 p.m.: Class is ending; I prepare myself for the rest of the week, enter my clinical encounters for the day through the Typhon online portal and hope to get to bed by a reasonable hour. This all depends on how much work I have left to complete. This hour usually begins the eye rolls and sighs from me as I walk past my roommates playing video games and watching TV as I head to my desk. Sometimes, when I need a break, I join them on the couch.
Tuesdays: In your third-year, as I mentioned, more clinical hours, less class! Students have clinic two to three days a week followed up with two days of class. I’m lucky enough to be one of the “two-day-ers,” being able to complete my 225 semester clinical hours on Mondays and Wednesdays. So, Tuesdays are my day to catch up on some school work, watch recorded online lectures – different from our webinars - work on my resume, send in applications for my fourth year externship placement, continuously check my email to see if sites I’ve applied to have responded. and study for the Audiology Praxis exam! Yay… Praxis. As a class, we began preparing for the Praxis exam over the summer and have a goal to all take it in February. Dr. Bray, who holds weekly Praxis review sessions for students, takes it every year with the students for support!
Wednesdays: To save you time, let’s just repeat Monday… except remember that “two day of class” thing I mentioned earlier - well, after I finish in clinic, on Wednesday evening I make the three hour trek back up to a friend’s apartment about 30 minutes from campus (hopefully in time to catch our Wednesday night Webinar) for classes and labs Thursday and Friday!
Thursday & Friday: These days are designated for classes, labs, group meetings and projects, and for me, they also include work-study on campus when I can. Every week our schedule changes but always includes a late night Geriatrics class ending around 7 or 8 p.m. before an early Friday 8 a.m. Auditory Electrodiagnostics 2 class with labs. The aroma in the classroom on Friday mornings is almost always coffee scented! Friday afternoons also usually consists of our Clinical Problem Solving class – whereas third-years, we get to create the cases! Friday afternoons, I usually find myself making my way back down I95 to Virginia – as always, good tunes are a must!
The weekend: No one said grad school was easy, but it definitely shouldn’t consume your entire life! I like to follow the rule an acquaintance of mine who graduated from Georgetown Medical School told me: “Unless you have a big test or project due, always give yourself at least Friday night off – and breaks on Saturdays, too!” Audiology, my grades, and my patients are all extremely important to me, but so are my family, my friends, my dog, and some personal time. If making it through to my third year has taught me anything, it’s definitely to find the balance between school and your personal life and to consistently remember to breathe because 4:45 a.m. Monday morning we start all over again! The countdown continues to graduation!