We often have the honor of working with an audiology extern as they finish graduate studies and earn their AuD, which prepares them to become independent clinicians and supervisors of clinical practice. This year we were privileged to get to know Alyssa Schwark, now known as Dr. Alyssa! She tells us more about her experiences below.
First of all, when is your last day with us?
My last day as a student is July 28, but I will be here through the end of summer and beginning of the fall.
Please describe your educational journey: college, grad school and your externship.
I got my bachelor’s degree in psychology right after high school. After that, I started working on a master’s degree in counseling, then went back and took classes in early childhood education. I worked in a variety of childcare environments for almost ten years before deciding to go back to school – this time for speech language pathology. An introductory audiology course stole my heart, and I quickly changed paths. I love the relationships in audiology and the ability to work with patients and families long-term. I am also a puzzle person, so I really enjoy all of the troubleshooting to look for the unusual solutions to new problems.
How did you get interested in audiology, and did you have any interest in pediatric audiology before you worked at Child’s Voice?
I have always wanted to continue working with children and families. One of my clinical rotations was at Chicago Hearing Society, and that really changed my perspective on what my role as an audiologist can (and should!) be. I learned to support each patient’s journey and try to meet their amplification needs without judgment. They work with many Deaf patients who use hearing aids to give them environmental awareness while still using ASL as their primary (and sometimes only) language. Shortly after that, I began working with a family who led me to Child’s Voice. Savannah has bilateral cochlear implants, and I got to dip my toes into the world of CI troubleshooting as I helped provide her with rich language experiences to build her spoken language. Her mom, Peggy, introduced me to the All Ears podcast, and I fell in love. When I started bringing Savannah to Toddler Group, it deepened my respect for this school, and I have been in awe of the amazing work that is done here every day.
What did you like best about working at Child’s Voice?
Every day at Child’s Voice brings its own unique opportunities, and I really enjoy the variety. I know to expect that the students will start arriving around 8:15, and they will be here until the last child leaves around 3:00. In between, audiology might only troubleshoot a single student device or remote microphone, but most days it is a lot more exciting. We see each student for IEP testing to support their needs as they plan for their next year of school, see new students for an intake evaluation to establish baseline audiology information, troubleshoot devices that are malfunctioning, and make sure all the remote technology is working if a problem arises. Even while doing all of that, we still save time to see outside patients for hearing tests, amplification evaluations and fittings, and device checks. It is rare that we have a slow day, and it keeps me on my toes and ready to go!
I have always known that Child’s Voice is amazing, but this is a rare place where the more you learn about it, the more awe-inspiring it really is. The work everyone does here is incredible, and I am lucky to be a part of it right now!