Audiologists find coats, elegance


The origins of the white coat stretch far back in history and can be associated with many… The origins of the white coat stretch far back in history and can be associated with many professions, including butchers, mechanics and laboratory personnel.

“The white coat came from the need to protect themselves from their environments,” said Malcolm Mcneil, chairman of communication science and disorders, at the first ever white coat ceremony for audiology at Pitt and within Pa., held Saturday in the Frick Fine Arts Building.

During the ceremony, all Pitt students pursuing a doctoral degree in audiology were given their own white coats, yellow roses, pins and otoscopes, a basic audiologist tool.

Audiologists deal with hearing disorders, hearing evaluations and providing health care to those with hearing disabilities.

Clifford Brubaker, the dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, spoke at the event and stressed the importance of education in preparing students for a successful career in audiology.

Catherine Palmer, the director of the Audiology and Hearing Aids, Eye and Ear Institute in UPMC’s department of otolaryngology, discussed the growth of audiology at Pitt and within the United States.

She added that the Pitt’s first students to graduate with a doctorate in audiology will always be remembered for breaking new ground.

Angela Loavenbruck, former president of the American Academy of Audiology and keynote speaker, spoke on a wide variety of topics pertaining to the past, present and future of the audiology profession.

“I would choose [a career in audiology] for the sheer elegance and design of the auditory system,” she said.

Loavenbruck spoke about how she became so involved in the field, which started during her time at the University at Buffalo. There she decided to become a speech therapist.

She added that the satisfaction that comes from working in audiology comes from being successful.

“Happiness is a by-product, not a goal,” she said.

Eric Hagberg, a member of the Audiology Foundation of America board of directors, and founder and president of Neuro-Communication Services Inc., compared the small group of practitioners who first began expanding the field of audiology to the founding fathers. Both were small groups of people who enacted great change in their respective times.

“The future is really in your hands,” Hagberg said.

Following him, students were given their coats and the yellow rose symbolic of friendship.

Afterward, all of the students recited the doctoral oath of audiology as a group, pledging collaboration and integrity.