Brittany Richardson, NC LEND, Shares Her Experience From Attending The Early Hearing Detection And Intervention (EHDI) Annual Conference

April 20, 2011

Trainees at EHDI Conference
Trainees at EHDI Conference

The 10th Annual Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Conference was held in Atlanta, Georgia in February of 2011. This conference brought together a diverse group of professionals, students, and parents from across the country with the shared goal of providing better services to infants and young children with hearing loss and their families. As a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) trainee and third year student in the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I had the opportunity to participate in several activities throughout the conference to build leadership skills and network with peers and professionals.

The day before the conference officially began, all LEND and Maternal and Child Health (MCH) trainees were invited to a dinner meeting. Students and professionals from different states were assigned to each table in an effort to get everyone out of their comfort zone and facilitate conversation in a comfortable environment. This promoted relationship building with leaders in the field and professionals working "behind the scenes" who work hard to keep students funded through LEND and MCH grants. The connections made at this event carried throughout the conference and will likely continue on in the future.

On the first day of the conference, stakeholder meetings for each state were held throughout the event center. Professionals, parents, and students from each state met to discuss goals for their respective EHDI programs. This was a beneficial experience because it highlighted areas of need that are not always apparent in our academic and clinical training. Going into my fourth year externship with this knowledge will help guide future endeavors and expand upon my individual leadership plan.

Students were strongly encouraged to submit an abstract for a poster presentation and I was pleased to have mine selected. Presenting this poster to a large audience was an exciting opportunity to share ideas and gain feedback from others interested in the topic.

On the last day of the conference students reconvened to reflect on what they had learned and to discuss ways they will continue to build leadership skills through collaboration with professionals and peers at local and national levels.

Overall, my experience at the EHDI Conference was invaluable. It was a great learning experience, it provided important networking opportunities, and it gave me the opportunity to apply some of the knowledge I have gained through my participation in UNC's Maternal and Child Health Leadership Consortium. In my career as a pediatric audiologist I will strive to become a leader who contributes to the success and improvement of EHDI programs at all levels. I hope that I may some day have the opportunity to work with future LEND trainees, and mentor them in the ways that have motivated and inspired me.