Welcome to Season 2 of The pAuDcast! In today’s show, Chris Cox Au.D., and Riley Bass Au.D. talk with Bettie Borton, Au.D., a former President of the American Academy of Audiology and current Director of University and Student Outreach at Audigy. The topic of this podcast is advocacy — why its important in a field such as audiology, and how you can get involved!
Did you miss our series on Transitioning from Student to Provider? Catch up on what you missed by visiting our special series page.
Listen to the Episode Below
Read the transcript:
CHRIS COX: And we’re back.
RILEY BASS: And better than ever.
CHRIS COX: Forever.
RILEY BASS: You know what’s better than the original?
CHRIS COX: No.
RILEY BASS: The sequel.
CHRIS COX: Of what? Which one?
RILEY BASS: Of this season of the podcast.
CHRIS COX: Wow. This is a sequel? I was expecting this just to be another season.
RILEY BASS: Well, it’s the first sequel. It’s the Empire Strikes Back right now.
CHRIS COX: Yeah. This is the Empire Strikes Back season. This is going to be a lot darker and it’s going to be the best one.
RILEY BASS: But no ewoks.
CHRIS COX: No ewoks.
RILEY BASS: That’s the third one.
CHRIS COX: Yeah.
RILEY BASS: Got it.
CHRIS COX: They’re kind of expensive so I don’t know if we’re going to be able to get them.
RILEY BASS: All right. Well, we’ve got our season two Star Wars joke out of the way, so let’s dive right in.
CHRIS COX: Yes, and we are plowing into. Let’s move on to what we’re here to do. We’re glad you guys are back. We’re glad you’re listening to us again– tuning in. We had a brief pause there for us to recoup and get some of the things done. But we’re back now to educate and entertain.
RILEY BASS: Informate.
CHRIS COX: Informate– that might work, yeah.
RILEY BASS: Yeah.
CHRIS COX: Today, waiting patiently in the wings here, chomping at the bit to chat with us, is our very good friend Dr. Bettie Borton.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Good morning.
CHRIS COX: Good morning. Good afternoon– whatever time you’re listening to this.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Good evening–whenever you’re tuning in.
CHRIS COX: Right.
Welcome to the show– season two, episode one– Dr. Bettie Borton. And we’re so happy that you’re here.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Well, thanks. It’s great to be here.
RILEY BASS: So Bettie, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you do here at Audigy and your road to get to where you are today.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Well, I’ve been with Audigy for about two years and I serve as the Director of University and Student Outreach. And in that role, I try to develop relationships between Audigy and students, universities, faculty members. We provide on sites and host events, which many of your listeners are probably familiar with.
That was sort of a natural outgrowth for me of a 30 plus year career. I’ve been an audiologist for a long time– probably more years than I want to delineate to specifically. And during the course of that time, I’ve been employed in many different roles. I’ve worked in big medical centers. I’ve worked in schools for the hearing impaired. I’ve worked in clinics, but most especially and most favorably in the private practice arena.
RILEY BASS: By most favorably, you obviously mean working with Chris and I.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Absolutely.
RILEY BASS: Right. OK. I just wanted to clarify.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Let’s get that clear.
RILEY BASS: So tell us a little bit more about your private practice– what you did. I know you’ve had a couple, but tell us more specifically about the most recent one you had.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Well, my first practice was sort of a symbiotic relationship with an EMT. My second practice was with a partner in Birmingham. But my third practice was in Montgomery, Alabama and Auburn Opelika, Alabama. And it was a truly independent, autonomous, free-standing private practice. And it was quite enjoyable, and after a period of time, as I approached retirement with my husband, we decided to sell the practices.
But I discovered during the course of my career that I really enjoy that independent, autonomous employment setting.
CHRIS COX: So would you say that’s the main reason why you stuck with that and went with that?
DR. BETTIE BORTON: I’d say so. I just have a rather entrepreneurial bent, I think. And I enjoy that type of independence and that type of freedom within an employment setting.
RILEY BASS: And you kind of enjoy being the boss, right?
DR. BETTIE BORTON: I do. I like to boss people around.
CHRIS COX: She’s a little bossy. But that’s OK.
So beyond that, you’ve also been involved in quite a few things in your career, both professionally and out on your own personally. Do you mind sharing a couple of those with us– some pretty big ones out there that I think are really cool.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: I’d be glad to. I’ve been quite active on the state level, of course, in my home state of Alabama with the Alabama Academy of Audiology there, and was the first president of that organization. But I was also a member of the Board of Governors for the American Board of Audiology, ABA, and later served as their national chair.
And then I served on the board of directors for the American Academy of Audiology, and subsequently was elected as the president of the Academy.
RILEY BASS: What? No way.
CHRIS COX: We have a president among us.
RILEY BASS: Wow. Once again, we’re being one-upped by our guest.
CHRIS COX: Always.
RILEY BASS: Our guests are always way cooler than we are. Thanks for sticking with us, guys.
CHRIS COX: So Bettie, you’ve held a lot of leadership roles. And I think what’s striking is that you also were an owner of a private practice at the same time as a lot of that. Can you explain a little bit about how you juggled both of those at the same time? How can you even do that?
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Well, it was challenging. I will say that. One of the things about Audigy is that it allowed me to become an owner investor in my own practice, rather than an owner doer. I was able to step back from the practice and let my staff take over most of the day-to-day activities. And I had a largely oversight role as I moved into the presidency and completed that role, which was really a three year tour of duty.
CHRIS COX: Oh wow.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: And Audigy really helped me position myself and my practice and my staff for that transition. So that was enormously helpful to me.
RILEY BASS: So just to clarify, when you had a practice, you were a member of Audigy.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Correct.
RILEY BASS: Gotcha.
CHRIS COX: And then later, after you got done with your practice, you got bored in retirement and decided you had to have something to do, and so you decided to come knock on Audigy’s door and see if you could come hang out with us.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: That pretty well sums it up.
Actually, it was just another way that I could impact my profession. And I’ve put a great deal into my profession over the course of my life. And one of the things that’s very important to me is seeing independent private practice thrive in our profession. And I think that many professions, not just audiology, but many health care professions, are in danger of losing independent practice. And I wanted to see what I could do to impact our profession and prevent that from happening if it’s possible.
CHRIS COX: Well, I want to definitely take an opportunity to talk about that with you. Because of your experience and where you’ve been, both with private practice and working so hard within our profession– which, thank you for your service by the way– I want to spend some time to just talk to you about those professional affiliations, and why it’s important to be involved.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Well, I think that audiology is rather unique because we have a number of organizations that people can affiliate with or participate in to impact our profession. And that’s an OK thing. But in terms of advocacy or really impacting your profession and your professional colleagues, it is your profession. You need to own it. And the best way to do that is to become involved in it so that you are knowledgeable about the issues and the trends that are impacting your practice and your profession. Because if you don’t mind that backyard, nobody else is going to do it for you.
So I think it’s critically important for students and professionals alike to advocate for their profession, and that requires understanding the issues, understanding what kinds of trends are coming about and how the long-term effects might impact our profession.
CHRIS COX: So you said this is our profession and it’s up to us to help move the profession forward. And you and those like you before us– Riley and I, as new audiologists– have really done a lot to lay the groundwork for where we are now, including fighting for this autonomous degree that we know the AUD. Hey, that rhymed.
RILEY BASS: It does rhyme. You did a good job. You should get a degree in rhyme time.
CHRIS COX: Yes. Thank you.
RILEY BASS: But in all seriousness, it is important because if we’re not advocates for our profession, nobody else is going to. And if you look out into the marketplace today, there are people that are trying to put us out of business by these direct marketing piece apps that are available online and in Target and Wal Mart and the grocery store. And if we don’t fight for our profession and we don’t advocate for ourselves, then that’s what’s going to become the norm and we’re going to become irrelevant in society today. And we can’t let that happen because, then how are we going to pay off our student loan debt?
DR. BETTIE BORTON: You’re exactly right.
RILEY BASS: I mean, and other things too.
CHRIS COX: And other things. And the yacht and all that.
RILEY BASS: Right. Right. No, I didn’t mean pay things off. I meant help people.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Well, another thing to consider is that in the total scheme of things, audiology is both a very young profession and it’s a very small profession. And so the smaller the profession and the younger the profession, the greater the need for very intentional advocacy efforts and for very sweeping participation. Because there are so few of us, all of us have to lend our voice to any kind of advocacy effort. Because if we don’t, there is simply not going to be enough push behind the effort to convince the regulatory agency or the lawmaker or whomever it is to move forward with the initiative.
As you can probably surmise from the current political scenario, lawmakers are influenced by large numbers of constituents advocating for a single platform. And because we are small, that is a real challenge for our profession. I think all of the professional organizations are working overtime to compensate for our limitations in terms of size and the fact that we are a very new profession as compared to optometry or dentistry or medicine or some of the other doctoring professions.
CHRIS COX: And even beyond that, for me, when I first learned that, that was wide opening– that was very eye-opening.
RILEY BASS: I was like wide opening what?
CHRIS COX: Very wide opening.
That was very eye-opening to think that our numbers are so small. And even beyond us comparing ourselves to dentistry and optometry and even with physicians, whenever you’re someone in legislation, like in Capitol Hill or even at state level, there are bigger and louder lobbyists out there for any other number of things that are going to get the attention of those legislators.
So when it comes to us, we’re even a smaller voice in an already large pool of screaming voices that have tons and tons and tons of money.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Sure.
CHRIS COX: It’s almost defeating to think about– that there’s just so much there. But I think that we have a lot that we can contribute and offer. And I think a lot of it comes down to educating even our own patients on the importance of audiology and hearing health care when it comes to them and their families.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: You bet, Chris. And that’s one of the best ways that we can approach advocacy as a small profession– is to pull our patients and other consumers of hearing health into the mix and ask them to help us advocate or to advocate on our behalf. That’s a very good way to grow the numbers, so to speak.
CHRIS COX: Bettie, I want to ask you this. What do you think, in your opinion, is the most important issue in our profession today?
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Well, if I answer this question, there will probably be a lot of people who will disagree with me. But to me, the single greatest issue facing our profession today is our educational model– owning our standards for that model and owning the accreditation process. Because until we own our own standards for educational programs, and until we are in firm control of the accreditation process that defines how one becomes an audiologist and what our scope of practice is, then we are at the mercy of many other groups.
For example, if we try to pursue limited license physician status, I think that there is so much out there about how inconsistent some of our educational programs are and how varied the standards are, that we run the danger of running afoul of much larger organizations like the AMA with regard to this particular issue. So to me, getting behind ACAE’s accreditation process that is really of by and for audiologists– it’s not shepherded by another discipline– it is our own accreditation process, and urging universities to get this accreditation and maintain it is extremely important.
And young providers and students can be very instrumental in this by simply urging their own professors and programs, especially as they matriculate out of education and become donating alums to pursue this course of action. Because it really is the best thing for audiology.
CHRIS COX: So you’re saying getting a better standard on our education system so that the output of what comes out of these programs is a little more similar than it is now?
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Yes, and one of the best ways that we do that is to have a single accreditation process that is developed and monitored and implemented, solely by audiologists.
CHRIS COX: Kind of going back to what you said earlier, and it ties into this a little bit, but the size of our profession and the relative newness of our profession I think, to me– I see it in a positive light as exciting, because that means that we can actually lay more of the foundation for what’s to come in the future and do it with a little more ease, perhaps, than if we were a big burgeoning profession that’s been around for a long time and has its stalwarts at the top that don’t want any change.
So for me, I see it as a positive. And part of that– of course the advocacy is a big part. And I think education is another big component of it. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re trying to do within the universities– the AUD only being around officially, what, 16 years at this point. So there are definitely some opportunities there, but I think there’s also some things to look forward to and push for in our future for the future profession and the education of our audiologists.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: You’re absolutely right, Chris. It’s a really exciting time to be an audiologist. And I would submit to younger audiologists that it’s a really exciting time to be an advocate because you can be part of your profession’s history.
CHRIS COX: That would be cool.
RILEY BASS: Bettie, I definitely see a lot of potential for our profession to take off and reach great heights and I’m excited to see where we go. We could probably sit here and talk about this all day. But rest assured, we do have this planned as talking about advocacy and involvement in the profession as one of our main topics that we are going to be covering this season on the podcast.
But while we have you here, Bettie, I want to ask you a couple more questions because most of our listeners are students or new graduates. So since you have had a practice and had a lot of experience being the boss, what are some things that you really looked for when you were looking to hire an extern or a new graduate to come into your practice and work with you?
DR. BETTIE BORTON: I think that having someone who can clearly articulate to me what their goals are is really important to me. Because if they can’t tell me what their goals are, I have no way of assessing if they are going to align with my practice’s culture, with our goals, with where we’re going– that sort of thing.
So being able to have some clearly stated goals is really important. But also, I look at a lot of intentionality in the candidate. Do they want to come to work in my practice for a particular reason? I hope so, and I hope I’m not just a job for them but I am the job. And if I’m not the job, then perhaps it’s not going to be the best fit for them or for me.
RILEY BASS: I heard you use to keep candy in your waiting room.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: I did.
RILEY BASS: So maybe that is one of the reasons.
CHRIS COX: That’s probably– I would have probably worked there.
RILEY BASS: I’m just kidding. That’s why Chris would want to work there.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Because of that candy. Well, there were a lot of patients who really enjoyed the candy too. And there were a fair number of employees who enjoyed the candy and stuffing the candy bags. But also attitude and work ethic are really important to me in a prospective employee. I’m a baby boomer, so I have very traditional values for the workplace. And so attitude is important no matter what generation you’re part of. But work ethic is, I think, particularly important to baby boomer genre.
CHRIS COX: And to yourself.
RILEY BASS: Well, what’s interesting, Bettie– and I know that you weren’t in there, but our last three podcasts that we did with members at Team Summit last month– we talked to each one of them who are at different stages in owning a practice and all of them said the exact same things that you just said– culture, attitude, work ethic– that those are the same things that they look for. And one of them is a fairly young provider, one of them is kind of in the middle.
So seeing that span across, it’s not just a baby boomer thing, we have a millennial owner that said the exact same thing that you just said, so–
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Interesting.
RILEY BASS: Pretty interesting to see how that all comes together.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: And notice that competency was not one of the big issues. But you might think that would be really bizarre at our litigious, risk-oriented environment. But perhaps it’s because most of us who are mentoring employees or students feel that we can teach you clinical skills that you need to know, or we can expand on those clinical skills. But attitude, work ethic– those things are much more difficult to instill.
RILEY BASS: All right. So what would be some advice that you would have for students or new graduates.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Well, I would advise students or young professionals to make sure that they have detailed goals. Where do you want to be in five years? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? And additionally, I would encourage them to really spend some time researching their employer and their employer’s culture– team culture– and to appreciate that– appreciate it for what it is– a reflection of the employer’s personal work ethic and concept of how they want their professional legacy to be.
Also, I would encourage young providers to remember that even if you already have a job, you may have just a job now, and not really the job. Remember that you have come into the field at such an exciting time because there is so much more opportunity. We have a much greater percentage of opportunity for this generation than for my generation. So you will have many, many jobs to choose from.
The trick becomes deciding which one is the perfect match for you and which one will allow you to leave a legacy that you will reflect on very positively.
CHRIS COX: Nice. Thank you for that advice. I’m sure that a lot of people will want to take that under advisement. Hint, hint, everybody.
RILEY BASS: Take that advice under advisement.
CHRIS COX: Is that what I said?
RILEY BASS: Man, you were right, Will. You told us if we took a break that we would lose our touch.
CHRIS COX: I didn’t lose my touch, I just made [INAUDIBLE]. Oh geeze. It’s going to be a rough season.
RILEY BASS: Just kidding. It’s going to be awesome.
CHRIS COX: It’s going to be great. All right. So one last thing, Bettie. I want to make sure that we touch on this because I think it’s super important. Amongst all the other things that you’ve done in your career, you’ve also done some things that are outside of the audiology realm that I think are pretty cool and shows that things like this can be done. But why don’t you tell us a little bit about your involvement in the– what was it called?
DR. BETTIE BORTON: A therapeutic riding program.
CHRIS COX: A therapeutic riding program.
RILEY BASS: Not creative writing though.
CHRIS COX: Right.
RILEY BASS: Or poetry.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: This involves equines.
RILEY BASS: Equines.
CHRIS COX: Oh, horse. OK, well, so tell us about it. Come on. Come on, Riley, we got to get together here.
RILEY BASS: Sorry.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Well, for about 13 years while I was living in Montgomery, I ran a therapeutic riding program. It’s a program using horses as an interventional tool for children and adults with disabilities. And this was a large nonprofit in Montgomery. And I am myself an equine enthusiast. I showed horses growing up. My daughter showed horses. So I had a strong equine interest.
CHRIS COX: What did you show them?
DR. BETTIE BORTON: I showed them the show ring and tried to collect some blue ribbons in the process.
RILEY BASS: Did you ever fit any horses with hearing technology?
DR. BETTIE BORTON: I did not. But I saw many dogs get fitted with hearing technology at Auburn University.
CHRIS COX: Wow. So was there a joke in there Riley? Was that a set up?
RILEY BASS: You know, I probably would have gotten to it eventually. But I hadn’t planned it out.
CHRIS COX: You hadn’t gotten the punch line yet?
RILEY BASS: I was just going to let it happen organically and you all stopped me before I got there. De-railed.
CHRIS COX: Dang it. Sorry. Well, I was going to try to get it back around if it was, but, anyway– so I think that’s really cool. That’s one of my favorite things about you, Bettie– is that you’re involved with so much within audiology and leadership. But you also were involved with so much outside of that. And for 13 years being a part of that association– what it an association? Is that was it was called?
DR. BETTIE BORTON: Yes. It was called Montgomery Area Non-traditional Equestrians– the acronym is MANE.
CHRIS COX: Mane, oh.
RILEY BASS: So like a horse’s mane.
CHRIS COX: I was going to say like a lion, but the horse makes more sense.
RILEY BASS: Well, yeah. They weren’t riding lions.
Well, Bettie, we know that you have to ride your lion back to Alabama, so will let you wrap up and get out of here. We are so thankful for you to spend a little bit of your busy time. I know you don’t get to come hang out with us here in Vancouver very often. And when you do, you’re pretty much jam packed between meetings and going to Burgerville.
Which is her favorite– the blackberry shakes.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: It’s my downfall.
CHRIS COX: By the way, Burgerville is a regional burger joint here in the Pacific Northwest.
RILEY BASS: It’s like way better than In and Out.
DR. BETTIE BORTON: With great milkshakes.
RILEY BASS: Yes. But what is a good way for students to get in contact with you?
DR. BETTIE BORTON: They can reach out to me via e-mail at email@example.com. And I welcome any kind of inquiries and I love to hear from students. And so if you have questions or comments, please get in touch with me.
RILEY BASS: As always, thank you so much for tuning in. Please make sure to like and subscribe to us on iTunes or the Google Play Store. And leave us a review so we can continue to make the podcast better each week. Please follow us on Twitter. I am @Rileyb659.
CHRIS COX: And I am @coxchriscox.
RILEY BASS: Or you can find us both @audigyu #podcast.