What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?
Clinical and research duties. In addition to seeing a full caseload of adults and children with hearing difficulties, one of the primary areas of clinical interest and research are the preservation of hearing with musicians and those who like to listen to music. This includes clinical research with new hearing aid technologies, most of which I helped develop in conjunction with the hearing aid industry.
How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?
After completing a bachelor's degree in mathematics and linguistics, and subsequent graduate work at the University of Toronto, I wanted to get away from a purely theoretical approach to communication and communication breakdown. My masters at UBC in Speech Sciences and Audiology provided me with the bridge between the theory and the practical/clinical application. Everything that I do clinically is based on the theoretical and clinical models, tools, and skills that I learned at UBC – they taught me which buttons to push.
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
After 35 years in the profession of audiology I still like going to work every day. One of the major reasons is that there is always something new to learn and new questions to ask. When I first graduated, the issues were "merely" technical, and like any technical/clinical field, I kept abreast of the progress. Today, the questions are much more complex, and some actually are aimed towards the long held assumptions that we hold dear to our clinical hearts whenever we see new clients.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
I was initially interested in a career in theoretical mathematics dealing with formal communication systems and algebras. After my undergraduate, I had three choices: teach high school mathematics, do graduate school in mathematics, or do graduate school in linguistics. I chose to go to graduate school in linguistics since this was a study of human communication. After several months there, my graduate advisor suggested that I look into a career in Audiology. Ultimately I ended up at UBC in this field, and it’s a perfect combination of theory and practice, and science and human communication.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
UBC is a beautiful campus and although this sounds trite, one needs to ask where one wants to live for several years of their life. UBC was one of three Canadian programs at the time that offered a degree in Audiology, and its orientation interested me. It wasn't purely clinical or purely theoretical – it was a nice combination of theory and clinical work backed up by a solid research base.
What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?
I thought that the clinical facilities and campus were great, and I met some of my closest friends in that program. Being from Toronto I had never seen the mountains or the ocean before, and while local BC inhabitants may take this for granted, it was quite novel for me. I spent quite a bit of time near the ocean and in the mountains while studying there.
What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?
Tenacity is the most important quality. If you have an idea, grab hold of it like a dog with a bone, and don't let go. Like all fields, there are times when you will metaphorically be "knocked down." If you are knocked down ten times, then get up ten times.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
Talk to someone who has been doing your proposed future career and ask them if they still enjoy going to work every day.
Did you have any breaks in your education?
After about 20 years in the profession, I did return to school and obtained my doctorate of audiology (AuD) in 2003. This program was flexible enough to allow me to fulfill the academic requirements via the internet and during the evenings.
How did you find out about/obtain your current position?
I actually created this new position in 1985 after several years working in a clinical and rehabilitative facility. There was a gaping hole in the field of audiology at that time about how best to assess and provide solutions for those in the performing arts. I was the first in North America – and most likely the world – to develop a musicians' clinic for those in the performing arts. I have published the first two textbooks on this issue and to this date, and I am an invited speaker for conferences around the world.
What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?
I suppose that if the University of Toronto had an audiology department, I may have stayed in Toronto. As is, I was "forced" to travel across the country, leaving my friends and family behind. I did need to play my guitar in Stanley Park, and tutor statistics for money on occasion to make rent, but if those strains are the greatest, the challenges were not too significant.
How are jobs normally posted and filled in your organization or industry?
Provincial and federal professional associations such as the Canadian Academy of Audiology have job posting boards that are updated regularly. "Word of mouth" is also a commonly used strategy.