Hannah Floyd
Hannah Floyd

Hannah Floyd, a graduate student studying communicative disorders at Eastern New Mexico University, presented her research at the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) Conference from April 18-21 in Nashville, Tennessee, and at ENMU's Student Research and Creativity Conference (SRCC) on April 4.

Hannah, who will graduate from Eastern this spring, discusses her conference experiences, her role as a graduate assistant, why she chose ENMU and more:

What was the topic of your research? How did you choose your topic?

The topic of my poster and paper is "The Utilization of Assistants in Audiologic Practice." I chose this topic because I am interested in the legal and ethical issues of using assistants in my field and related fields. Currently, there aren't a lot of regulations regarding the use of assistants in this field. They vary wildly from state to state regarding required education and training, and there are no clear outlines or guidelines about how assistants should be used. There is also very little research in the area despite assistants being used for over 50 years.

In order to make recommendations for regulations of the use of assistants, I felt there were some questions that needed to be answered. My research surveyed audiologists currently using assistants nationwide and looked at how assistants are used by audiologists in different settings, assistants' education and training levels, their wages and I also asked questions of audiologists to determine if there was a consensus on what ideal training and education would look like. They were also asked their opinions on state and national licensure, continuing education requirements and whether or not they felt assistants needed to have their own liability insurance when practicing. 

Describe your AAA Conference experience:

My research supervisor, Dr. Rachel Lingnau, really encouraged me to apply for this conference. Even though I love research, I worried that my work wouldn't be good enough for a national conference for a field that I'm not even a part of. Presenting my poster was definitely not as stressful as I'd anticipated. The Student Research and Creativity Conference on campus was far more involved!

What was your favorite part of the AAA Conference?

My favorite part was hearing from professionals at the conference who told me that they felt the work I am doing is important. This research project took me a year to complete and when you're involved in a single project for so long I think it's easy to feel negatively about it, like maybe the sample size was too small, and some results weren't as significant as you wanted them to be.

When you're able to step back from that and see things from the point of view of someone learning about the work for the first time, you're able to look past your own little problems with the study and feel good about the work you did.                                     

Describe your experience at the SRCC:

In the morning, we presented our posters for several hours as each of the judges assigned to our specific group came by to hear our presentation. They asked a lot of questions, some about methodology, some about the topic itself and its relevance or importance to the field. In between judges a lot of graduate students in my program came by, many whom just started the program, and asked questions about the process and how it felt to be done after so long.

Later in the afternoon, we presented our research to a different group of judges via PowerPoint, and we were given ten minutes to do. During that time, I got to watch the presentations of some of my classmates, and they all did so well.

Which awards did you win at the SRCC? What did it mean to you to win those awards?

I won best poster and best presentation in my groups. It meant a lot to be recognized not just because of the work that I put in but also because research in and of itself is something I'm just generally passionate about.

What was your favorite part of the SRCC?

 Seeing other students excited about their research was really great. I can wax poetic about research all day, and I know that it's not everyone's cup of tea, so it was neat to see other students who were proud and ready to talk about the work they did.

What advice would you give to students who are interested in your field of study? Any advice about research and presentations?

Read. Read. Read. This is a field in which you are constantly learning and largely responsible for your own learning since things so quickly. Also, it's not enough to work hard; you have to be kind to people. Not just patients and clients, but professors and classmates and other professionals too.

To me, being a good clinician in this field is half what you know and half who you are. It's easy to learn what's in the textbooks but when you're stressed and drained and emotionally exhausted, sometimes it's hard to remember that being kind is often more important than anything else. 

The best advice I received about presenting your own research was from Dr. Suzanne Swift, the director of my program. When we were practicing our presentations, she would tell us, "No one knows more about your research than you." When you're a new researcher it's easy to feel like you will never know as much as "the experts" but remembering that you are the expert on what you did is helpful in calming those nerves.

In your role as a GA at ENMU, what are your job duties?

I do a little bit of everything; it just depends on the day! I've had the opportunity to give some lectures, tutor, complete additional research and even built a couple of homecoming floats along the way.

Why did you choose to attend ENMU?

I chose to attend ENMU after learning about their distance program. Funnily enough, I ended up staying here for the duration of my program, and I'm really glad I did as I've been afforded some amazing opportunities.

Where were you born and raised? Where did you receive your bachelor's degree and what was your major? What year did you graduate?

I typically just say the West Coast. I was born in Washington, grew up in California and spent all of my adult years in Oregon. I graduated from Southwestern Oregon Community College and then received my B.S. from Portland State University in 2016. My first classes here at ENMU actually overlapped my last finals week of undergrad.

What are your career plans after graduating from ENMU?

I'm hoping to work on the medical side of speech pathology and then go back to school for my Ph.D. in a few years. Since working as a GA, I've become keen on the idea of being a professor at least part-time.

Additional information:

Special thank you to my supervisor Dr. Rachel Lingnau for working with me and encouraging me for the past year and Dr. Suzanne Swift for turning my interest in research into an obsession for learning more and questioning everything.