Hey everyone! My name's Renee Kochinski and I'm currently a second-year Audiology student! (Wow, time really flies!!).
I'm from New Jersey but I moved to Elkins Park to be closer to school. I currently live over at Lynnewood Gardens, which I absolutely love! It's a five-minute drive to campus, which is extremely convenient (sometimes three minutes if you can catch all the green lights!). This semester we're taking two labs, seven classes and clinic. I'm looking forward to being able to go into the Vestibular Lab again and brush up on my skills for doing a videonystagmography (VNG) and learning new tests. For clinic, COVID-19 has made things a bit different than how it used to be. For now, I'm typically at the Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI) about once a week! All of our classes are virtual, with some being pre-recorded and uploaded, and others being collaborative sessions on Blackboard.
I studied Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. During this time, I was provided amazing educational opportunities such as completing research with one of my psychology professors, and having a placement at a local elementary school! While taking my undergraduate courses, I quickly fell in love with everything audiology. I soon came to the decision to pursue it as my career which is how I landed at Salus!
I remember the feeling of how excited I was to go to the class "Hearing Disorders and Assessment," my first audiology course when I was a sophomore in undergrad. I began to look more into the field, since it was pretty unknown to me back then. I was able to shadow my professor at the clinic where she works in Albany, New York, and could envision myself becoming an audiologist just after those few appointments. I wanted to prepare myself for graduate school so I worked with one of my professors to create an independent study course essentially going over "Audiology 101." I hadn't felt this passionate when thinking about a career, well, basically ever! I knew it was where I belonged. Being able to be in the healthcare profession means the world to me. Being able to be in the healthcare profession means the world to me. Helping our patients hear their loved ones and favorite sounds, while gaining back their quality of life, is indescribable. When people think of audiology their mind directly goes to the ear and hearing loss but it is so much more than that! It's also being able to connect with patients, helping them through a challenging and possibly scary time, and being a lifelong learner.
Right off the bat when researching programs, I knew that Salus was different. The biomedical approach and early clinical exposure provided at Salus drew my attention to the program. Being able to observe second-year students in clinic during my first semester was so helpful for preparing when I would be completing the evaluations and case histories! Last year, I was one of the Co-Executive Assistants for Student Council, which was a bit rough with COVID-19 but we did it, (right, Carleigh - hahaha)?! This year, I was elected to be one of the Hearing Screening Chairs for SAA (the Student Academy of Audiology)! I'm looking forward to serving on this board with my peers in this program. We might not be able to do hearing screenings this year, but I'm hoping as things become safer, we will be able to create opportunities for the community members to be preventative with their hearing health.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are the days we have class and labs! Here's what a peek into my day looks like on a Monday:
8 - 8:30 a.m.: Wake up, get ready for the day, and eat some cereal. With COVID-19, my commute time to class is SUPER short, and only takes about 13 steps from my bed to my desk (hahaha)! But, I still try to get ready as if I would be driving over to campus to help myself be a bit more productive.
9 - 11:30 a.m.: I log on to the Blackboard collaborative session for the class, "Cochlear and Brainstem Implants." I make sure to take as many notes as I can, since I'm a visual and repetitive learner. I love this class!
11:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.: I switch over to another collaborative room to join the "Pediatric Intervention and Management" class. This is more of a check in to make sure we understood the previously recorded lectures that I typically would have watched the Thursday before.
12 – 1 p.m.: This is when I have my lunch break so I stock up snacks and food because something about taking notes makes me suuuper hungry! I also try and walk around my apartment and stretch a bit because it's not the best to be sitting at the desk all day. I'll also go on Animal Crossing to check up on my island!
1 - 2:30 p.m.: I log on to WebEx for Clinical Problem Solving 4 which is me and about six of my other classmates. This semester, we're creating a case that might be used in the future for CPS 1-3 so get an eye out!
2:30 - 4:30 p.m.: Break time! Sometimes if needed, I'll take a little nap or relax if I don't have other homework to do before my next class. I'll also take this time to prepare for the upcoming week, study for any quizzes/exams, or do my discussion post due later in the week. If the weather's nice, I'll meet up with some of my friends for a quick walk around Lynnewood! Being able to take breaks and go on adventures from school is so important for your mental health!
4:30 - 5:30 p.m.: Last class of the day! Back to my desk and I log on to the collaborative session for "Auditory Rehabilitation." I'm really looking forward to this class because of how important it is for our patients.
5:30 p.m. and on:
The rest of my night is filled with eating dinner, going on a walk, re-watching my new favorite show, "Bridgerton," and/or FaceTime my mom and best friends (thank goodness for technology during social distancing times!). After I've had a break, I'll finish catching up on emails, and studying if I wasn't able to finish it earlier. I'll then get ready for tomorrow, and bed and watch some TikToks, and maybe even practice some of the dancing trends to keep up!!
Tuesdays and Thursdays are the days we are assigned to clinic!
8:45 a.m.: I arrive to PEI, geared up with my mask and hand sanitizer ready to take on the day! Once the temperature check is done, I log on to the computer to check the schedule and prepare as needed.
9 a.m. - 12 p.m.: My schedule will be a bit different depending which preceptor I'm with for the day. If I'm placed with one of the pediatric audiologists, I might be thinking of what fun games we can play for the scheduled hearing eval (the best part), and cleaning the toys in the booth! Appointments we see at PEI include hearing evaluations, follow-ups, ear mold impressions, hearing aid checks/fittings, or cerumen management.
12 - 12:45 p.m.: Arguably one of my favorite times: lunch! I head over to the main building and eat my lunch in the cafe. Usually, I pack my lunch, but sometimes I'll grab food from the cafe because the french fries there are the best!
12:45 - 5 p.m.: Back to PEI! I get ready for any appointments scheduled for the afternoon and check in with my preceptor. If there are no appointments scheduled, I'll verify hearing aids, and/or grab a partner and refresh on my skills! By the end of the day I make sure all my reports are written and my station is clean. I absolutely love being in clinic and look forward to it every week!
5 p.m. and on: Time to go home! Afternoons after clinic are pretty identical to afternoons after class but with a bit more time to relax so I can decompress and reflect on the day!
Thank you so much for reading through a day in my life! Times are tough right now but knowing I am supported by my best friends, family, preceptors and professors keeps me motivated and grounded. I hope you enjoyed, and I hope to see you at Salus!!