All About The AUD Student Experience – Episode 64 – with Ina Selita
Ina S. Selita, a third year AUD student at The CUNY Graduate Center (which is also the same program that Dr. Saperstein graduated from) is the creator of Neuro-Hear. Neuro-Hear is a website that takes textbook based audiology concepts and explains them in easy to understand ways. In today’s episode, Dr. Saperstein and Ina talk about the AUD experience and what it takes to become an Audiologist. Tune in to learn about Ina’s experience of implanting rats with cochlear implants, tips to have a semester with limited stress, and the ways in which social media can influence the spread of information that focuses on audiology!
If you are interested in Communication Sciences, Communication Disorders, Speech Therapy or Audiology, this is the episode for you. If not, check out another episode at: https://allaboutaudiology.com/
4:25- Ina implanted rats with cochlear implants
Ina cold-emailed professors in the NYC area in search of a research position. She got a volunteer position at NYU and eventually built herself up to be hired as a full-time research associate.
12:50: Synopsis of Ina’s research:
Ina created a new system for Cochlear Implants insertion, stimulation, and behavioral training in rats which involved rat auditory training and Rat ABR’s.
14:50: When Ina decided against medical school and looked into audiology
“It was all organic chemistry.” Ina decided that she did not want to be in school for so long and decided that she wanted to do AUD since such a track allows her to work in either clinic, educational or consultant audiology.
19:00 COVID affecting the educational experience of audiology students
Students are struggling to get the complete training, and are not receiving the hands-on work with actual patients. Ina struggled with completing her required hours since she saw a minimum number of patients.
26:00 Positives of going through Graduate School during COVID
Ina realized that certain people have trouble hearing and understanding even without wearing masks in their day to day lives (since everyone has been wearing masks recently!). Ina has become more empathetic to her patients who have trouble hearing as a part of their regular day to day experience.
27:30: Self-care during Graduate School
As a grad student, you needs to accept that things will be stressful. Thus, it is healthy to have proper coping mechanisms. It is also important to find hobbies outside of audiology.
30:00 Medical School vs. Graduate School
Graduate School has peaks and valleys but it is nothing like business or the demanding residency of medical training.
31:30: Planning your semester and scheduling the semester
Once you get your syllabi, schedule your semester. Get ahead on projects when you have limited work.
34:00: Working with your cohort of peers
You are going through the same grad experience and classes and it is good to support one another and find study pals or share notes. Though, balance this with doing what’s right for you and do not compare yourself to others.
37:05: Ina’s post graduation plans
Ina is intrigued by everything in the field but wants to work with clients within a clinical setting.
38:30: Audiologists representing the field on social media
Dr. Ben Thompson:
Dr. Stephani Marie Rose:
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Listen Next/Related Episodes
Welcome back to the All About Audiology podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Lilach Saperstein and this is the show where we explore audiology together and how it matters to you. Whether you are a parent to a child who is deaf or hard of hearing or you are a professional related to our field. Audiologists, speech therapists, teachers of the deaf, teachers… all you fun therapists out there doing OT and PT and all the other things and caring for the wonderful kiddos and patients that we serve.
So, on this show, we talk a lot about different topics. There’s kind of a mix in the audience, like I said, on the patient and family side and on the professional side. Today, we are focusing on students. So, if you are interested in communication sciences, communication disorders, speech therapy or audiology, this is the episode for you. Of course, everybody is always welcome to listen but perhaps you will find at the allaboutaudiology website, a podcast episode for a topic that you are more interested in, tinnitus or counseling or anything like that.
So, without further ado we will be offering lots of advice and interesting stories for students today with our special guest, Ina Selita, who runs an amazing Instagram account @neurohear and she is going to share with us her journey to audiology which has not been a straightforward, traditional path. So, I’m excited to listen and hear about that. And we are going to talk about a lot of things. You know what, let’s just jump in.
Dr. Lilach Saperstein: “Welcome, Ina, to the show. How are you?”
Ina Selita: “Thank you so much. Thanks for having me and thanks for All About Audiology. I use it all the time to just catch up and all the fun things that you have to offer on here.”
LS: “Thank you. I love the students sending me DMs on Instagram. Listen, that’s how this happened so if you are on Instagram, DM me and we can schmooze.
I have to say that I love your Instagram account and you break down the concepts, like oh let’s talk about this or that that you just learned about. So, it’s very approachable from the student perspective. It’s also very well researched. This is the thing, I have more respect in a sense for students and for early professionals because they are so in it, studying and the research and everything. And as you get on with your career, you kind of do the day to day stuff more so sometimes students know more about what they are talking about, hahaha, then people who have been in the field for longer.”
Ina: “I definitely understand that. I mean as I learn switching over from in house clinics to actual clinics where I’m seeing real patients, there’s so many things that you tend to forget that you might have learned in class. So, I just like to use neurohear, literally as I’m learning it, I’m teaching it. This way, I can explain it maybe in words that most people can understand. It’s not textbook definitions. It’s always just little snippets on the journey of audiology.”
LS: “Yeah, and that’s also just a great tip for anyone in grad school or anyone studying anything, if you can explain it, then you have mastered it. I always tried to do group study sessions and study with other people because if I’m there by myself, it’s like, this is boring. But if I have to explain it, it’s like, yes, light it up.”
Ina: “Yes. And when you say it out loud, it becomes real and it actually sticks. There was a time where, not even just a few weeks ago, I took my comps which were oral and I was terrified of this idea of having to speak and explain certain things to my faculty members and my professors. So, I took it upon my Instagram account to just get comfortable with the concepts and ideas and just to talk about it on there and it was a great way to help me practice for the comps.”
LS: “That’s amazing. I love the whole idea that you don’t need to know everything. You don’t need to be an expert to share what you are learning and talk about what you are going through. So, I really, really appreciate that and I know that there are so many students, AuD students and SLP students who are on Instagram. So, I hope you are all listening and tagging each other for this episode because we have a lot of fun things we are planning to share with you.
So, I want to start with one of the most interesting things you shared with me. You told me that you implanted rats with cochlear implants. So, please take us back and tell us how you got to that moment in time and how that brought you to audiology. So, tell us about yourself, Ina.”
Ina: “That’s always a fun thing to start off with. I think people find that the most interesting thing about me, that I implanted rats with cochlear implants and I love to say that. So, I started off at Hunter College and I was on the pre-med track. I was majoring in biology and neuroscience. I’m an immigrant myself and I come from very immigrant-mentality parents where it’s like, you become a doctor, lawyer, or an engineer. Something with a strong foundation behind. So, I always knew I wanted to become some sort of health care worker, whether it was nursing or becoming a doctor. I just knew I wanted to help people.
So, I majored in biology. I didn’t have that guidance from my family that maybe most people do. I was the oldest child, so I kind of had to figure it out on my own. And I was learning essentially through my friends and through my school the next steps I need to take. And so, I needed to get involved in research. So, I cold emailed about over 50 professors in the New York area from Columbia, CUNY, NYU, just asking if I could please volunteer in their labs just to learn and watch what is going on in research. And my old PI reached out to me and told me that he has a position available and I should come in. So, I took it. I didn’t ask questions. I just took it and he assigned me to a project on cochlear implants.”
LS: “I just needed to stop you right here for a second and make sure everybody heard that. You emailed people you did not know, who did not know you, without any connection or person in between. You just like found their email on a website that they are faculty somewhere, and then emailed them and said, ‘Hi, how can I help you?’ So, if anybody wants to learn about how to get gigs, no one’s going to come and knock on your door and say, ‘Welcome, would you like to learn this?’ Like you have to go out there and get it.
And if you will allow me one more interruption here, on the podcast, one of the guests was Abby Perets. She is an incredible mom of five, and we had a whole podcast episode about her son and his BAHA and microtia. And that’s a great episode. I will link it in the show notes. But Abby Perets is also a freelance writer who teaches other freelance writers, how to be successful, specifically moms, because she had a son who was battling cancer and that devastated their whole family and she needed to figure out that story. And then when he got well, she said, there’s all these other moms in these groups that I’m part of who need help bringing income but they can’t have a regular job. They’re always at appointments and stuff. So, she’s like, let me teach you how to be a freelance writer. And that’s how her business began. So, I’m like a big fan of Abby’s. We’re friends now. Super fun. And she always talks about this, about cold pitching. If you’re in freelance or if you are a student, no matter who you are, if you want something, you don’t just send two or three or ten or twenty emails. You keep going until you get a “yes” and you need to go through the no’s one at a time, swim through them. And that’s for grad school applications and recommendation letters and all that stuff.”
Ina: “It goes for everything. At Hunter college, it’s a public school so, you don’t get that one-on-one interaction with your advisors as much as maybe you do in a private school. So, you really have to fend for yourself. And there’s so many people in your classes. I mean, all my classes were like 500 student lectures, all majoring in the same topic. It’s very competitive in that sense. So, I didn’t know anything else other than I needed to get research in my resume if I wanted to go to medical school or do my PhD. So, that was just kind of what I did. And I always recommended that. And I always took that with me with every other step in my career: is to not be afraid to ask if you need help and just reach out to people. People are willing to help, but they can’t get to you if they don’t know that you need their help. And so, even with my account on @neurohear, I make sure to take my time to answer questions to these students who are in high school or in college, and just want to know these little simple things that they don’t find out at orientation.
And I still do that till this day. I’m still meeting with different audiologists and reaching out to other people in the field and just kind of getting ideas of where I see myself fit in. Because it is such a diverse field, even though, like there’s so many things you can do as an audiologist, and it’s important to have a strong foundation so that you can know which way you want to take your career towards.”
LS: “And it’s helpful too, to the people you’re reaching out to, because they want research students. They are looking for undergrads sometimes, or even high school students. Or if you say, can I volunteer? Like I’ll come and clean up and help you fax things. I don’t know. Do people fax things still?”
Ina: “They do.”
LS: “Ha ha. Okay. Like whatever you can offer that is, I would like to be there as help to you and kind of make it that you’re offering your services or your help in addition to what you’ll get out of it.”
Ina: “Right. So, at NYU, when I first started, I was doing very simple work. I mean, I was working with rats. So, half the time I was literally just like tagging their tails with a color so that we can discriminate which is which. So, it was very simple work in the beginning, up until the point where I saw that I really enjoyed this. I wanted to learn more about it. I wanted to get more involved. So, my PI at the time saw that and he kind of allowed me, he gave me more work so that I could learn. And I spent four years at NYU. I started off as a volunteer, but I didn’t spend four years volunteering. I eventually was hired as a research intern and then hired full-time as a research associate.”
LS: “Just to clarify, a PI is principal investigator, the person in charge of the research study.”
LS: “Basically your boss, haha.”
Ina: “Basically, my boss. Yeah. And he was great. I actually remember the day I got hired. It’s such a great story. My mom called me and she was asking me about my tuition and the payments and she was like, ‘Ina, you need to get a job and pay for your textbooks because I can’t afford this right now.’ And I was so mad because I was here working for free because I was volunteering still. And I knew I needed this for my future, but I also knew that I needed a job because I needed to pay for my commute to the city every week which was like $50. So, things added up and essentially, my parents have two other kids that they need to take care of.
So, I remember going up to my boss and I was like, I’d love to stay here. I’m enjoying it so much, but I need a job and I can’t continue to work here for free. And he said, ‘Okay, good luck finding a job.’ And he was very kind about it, but I was so upset because I was hoping he would offer something. So, I ran into the room where the rats were and I was crying. I came out. I washed off my face, whatever. And then he was like, ‘Hey, why don’t you work here?’ “
LS: “Haha. Okay, so what did you learn from that? What did you learn from that interaction?”
Ina: “What did I learn from that? Honestly, I don’t even know what I learned from it, but I just knew that I was so happy to be there at that time with that person and the way things worked out, it was really good. You have to ask for things like still, no matter what, he knew that I needed a job, he knew I wasn’t just going to leave. So, he was very kind in that regards. So, I stayed on and we continued doing research. Eventually we developed a physiological and behavioral system for hearing restoration with cochlear implants, but in rats. So, we created that rat model. So, that was how I learned how to implant rats with cochlear implants.
And the research is so much fun. So, as we know, cochlear implants, are these neuro prosthetic devices that provide hearing to the deaf patients. And so, the outcomes on how these patients learn is highly variable, even with prolonged training and use. So, the central auditory system needs to learn how to process these new signals coming from the implant, but it’s unclear how these neural circuits in the brain adapt or fail to adapt to such new input. So, we created a new system for cochlear implant insertion, simulation, and behavioral training in rats. We recorded from the cortex while we were stimulating through the implant and the animals learned to use the implants for auditory dependent tasks. We assessed frequency, discrimination, and detection and we made sure that the animals were learning through the implant because when we were turning it off, they weren’t able to do the auditory tasks. So, that’s just like a very brief synopsis of the research.”
LS: “So, what you’re telling me is that you didn’t just implant them. You then gave them auditory training and rehab and like, took them through the whole process. Did you do ABRs, little rat ABRs? Haha.”
Ina: “We did rat ABRs and I remember, when I first was doing ABRs it was the same thing as we do with patients now, but it was just so funny to me when we got to clinic in real life, like in audiology, the program…”
LS: “With people. Oh my goodness. Haha. You couldn’t paint their tails. Hahaha.”
Ina: “I couldn’t paint their tails. Of course not, haha.”
LS: “Okay. Wait. So, then what happened? When did you drop med school or like, what was that when that discussion came up and you switched to audiology?”
Ina: “Yeah, it was organic chemistry. It ruined everything for me.”
Ina: “When I was an undergrad, I realized I did not want to go through medical school. I just didn’t enjoy the idea of being in school for so long. It just wasn’t for me. I applaud anyone that goes through medical school. It’s so much work and you sacrifice so much. I wanted something with a little bit less schooling, for lack of better words. And so, I was stuck between a PhD and an AUD, so I was kind of going back and forth between those two. I realized, as I worked, I knew I wanted to do AUD because it put me on a track. And I knew when I started, I knew when I ended and there was so many different things that I can do with the degree myself, whether I wanted to work in a clinic or educational audiologist, or work in the industry or consult. The options were open.
I spoke to some audiologists that were working as research audiologists on my team at NYU, and they were so happy. And initially that’s kind of where my path was. I thought I would become a research audiologist, but as I continued in the program, I realized I really love working with people and with patients. And it’s so rewarding to me to help patients, just better improving their lives and their quality of life. So, I knew for sure, I want to work in clinics.”
LS: “I bet you never got a thank you note from any of those rats. Hahaha. Sorry, I really can’t let go of that. It’s too fun.”
Ina: “I know. People love that. They love the idea that I worked with rats and cochlear implants and they were the tiniest cochlear implants, they were so cute and they were just so big for their heads. It was adorable.”
LS: “That’s hilarious, but wait. Okay. I need to ask one more question about this. The external processor, did they have it on all the time or were you just using that for the training?”
Ina: “We were just using that for the training. So, they weren’t wearing it when they were just like in their play cages and what not, so we only turned it on and connected it. It was built a little differently than the traditional ones we use, obviously, on real patients.”
LS: “I can imagine. Yeah, it didn’t come in like all the different colors. Hahaha.
All right. So, moving on. The other cool thing we have in common, actually, we probably should have mentioned this already is that, you are currently a third year student in the program where I also completed my doctorate degree, AUD at the CUNY graduate center, the city university of New York, one block away from Harold square, Macy’s in Manhattan.”
Ina: “And the empire state building.”
LS: “This is the difference between you and me. My landmark is Macy’s. Your land mark is the empire state building. Well, I just know that because that was my train stop from the queue coming in from Brooklyn. So, I would get off in front of Macy’s and then walk that one long.”
Ina: “Avenue. That forever long avenue.”
LS: “It’s so long. Okay. And like you’re late for class and it’s snowing and there’s all these tourists taking pictures and you’re like, people get out of my way. I got to get through here. I made a point. I made a real point to always look up and see that empire state building. I did notice it. Okay. And just like remembered, I’m in the center of the world right now. This is amazing that I live in this city, close enough anyway, and that I get to go to school here. And even though I was tired and I was either pregnant or postpartum, pretty much, I had two kids throughout grad school. It was a lot, it was tough. It was a journey. But I remembered that and I knew that I’m doing this, like you said, for a set amount of time, I had a very clear plan. This was a four year plan. Get through this degree and then go off into the world. And hey, look at that. I did move to Israel. So, now I kind of miss Manhattan. I have to be honest.”
Ina: “Well, you’re not missing much right now. I haven’t been in class physically since March last year. So, it’s been quite an interesting transition, moving everything online. I was in my last in-house clinic placement when COVID happened. And I was so excited for this placement because this is where we were learning those real clinical hacks, I could say, because a lot of what you learn in audiology at school isn’t the way you actually practice it in clinic. There’s so many different things that you do differently. And this was the placement where we were learning all those shortcuts to masking, which I was very excited about because I’m terrible at masking.
And so, then it got cut really short and everything transitioned to Zoom and virtually learning. And it was really difficult. It was really hard to do simulation clinic. It’s not the same and even more so, I think, you know, even though this did happen to us too, the year below us, hasn’t seen any patients yet. So, it’s really difficult to be in this kind of program and be socially distant, especially when you’re working with patients and you’re in a sound booth. So, yeah.”
LS: “I’m so glad you brought that up because this is something we definitely wanted to talk about on this episode, how this year, different than all other years for everybody, has just turned everything we think about and know on it’s head to ask the questions of, well, how many clinical hours do you really need and what are you going to learn? And what’s important? How can we get that experience? So, that is really hard not being able to even see patients. And then on the other side of that, it’s obviously very hard for patients who need the care and they can’t have access to the services that they need, you know, not to minimize here, but we’re focusing on the grad school experience at this moment.
So, what do you think will be the implications of that throughout the next year and a half or so of your program?”
Ina: “Yeah. Personally for me, I struggled a little bit with my hours in my last placement. I was working at a children’s hospital and I wasn’t seeing that many patients because of COVID, because of staggered schedules. We were working with children with a lot of other co-morbidities, so we had to be extra careful and we were seeing maybe three to four patients a day, which is very minimal, especially as a student who’s trying to get their clinical hours. So, I ended up starting clinic at my other placement a lot sooner than I was expected to, just to make up for those hours. And it’s been a little different here. One thing I noticed a lot with the other placement that I was at, where I wasn’t seeing as many patients, all these children and their regression in school, socially, it was so heartbreaking to see the causes and the effects of what COVID has brought upon their lives during this time and how that relates back of course, to them having a hearing impairment. A lot of students were struggling hearing their classes through zoom. They couldn’t afford the hearing AIDS that connected wirelessly and Bluetooth. So, it was a very eye-opening experience, which I enjoyed.
My placement now is a little bit more different. Things are changing as vaccinations are rolling out, patients are getting more comfortable with their practitioners, especially because we were one of the first ones that were able to get vaccinated. Things are looking better. However, I definitely feel more for the year below us who lost this year of building their clinical skills and just being thrown directly into patients can be a little challenging.”
LS: “I heard that somebody was talking about this, you know, across all the ages that it’s like newborn babies, zero to 12, who are going to spend their whole first year with very limited social interaction beside their caregivers and siblings. And then first graders who are coming into school and learning to read and all those foundational skills that they’re not getting that in a school environment. Then they mentioned eighth graders and 12th graders, basically all the years where there’s some very big transition throughout a child’s life that, the high school graduation and moving from, school age to high school where now it gets serious, you know. The classes matter. And there’s all these state tests and APs and whatever.
But I also think that, you know, obviously again, everybody’s been affected in one way or another, but there is something about specifically being in a graduate program where you do have that lockstep. You need one class to get to the next class. There’s certain number of hours you need to fit into these 18 months of clinical hours, whatever. That if something gets mess there, then your journey could get really either lacking in what you’re getting from it or extended, which is, I know what other programs have done. They kind of just like added another year so that they could get those hours.
So, wherever you are and whatever you’re dealing with, I think the world knows that this is not ideal. And then probably as you start to enter the workforce, this year and everybody’s resume is going to be like, well, what were you up to then? What did you miss? What do you need help with and making up those hours and skills later on, hopefully.”
Ina: “Yeah, it’s been interesting. It’s definitely had some sort of toll on our abilities and our confidence, especially, I think a lot of what we do, we need to be confident in ourselves, and as graduate student clinicians, we are the opposite of confident. Maybe it’s just me, but I doubt everything. I call for my supervisor. I’m like, I don’t know if this matches up. I need to know. And I think that is because of how things got cut the way they did. And it was very abrupt. And with audiology, as a student, if you’re not practicing for two weeks, by the time I get to the audiometer, I’m like, what is this? I don’t know what this is anymore. If you’re not practicing it every day, you kind of forget it until you start doing it again too. It’s an interesting time for a lot of students now. It’s not just for audiology. I know it goes across so many different fields and jobs.”
LS: “And what would you say if we can put on our little, for a moment, silver lining hat, even though I’m very anti toxic positivity where everything’s fine. Everything’s good. Like, no, the house is on fire! Do you know that meme with the dog? Okay. We still can maybe find some gratitude for like a minute. Do you think there have been any positives for you throughout grad school in COVID?”
Ina: “So, one thing that I really noticed with myself is that during COVID with keeping our masks on, I rely so much on lip reading, I rely so much on seeing people’s mouth move and understanding what they’re saying. And this has just raised so much awareness on how important it is to hear. I’m getting coffee at the Starbucks or whatever and I can’t hear anything and I feel uncomfortable and I feel like I’m making the other person uncomfortable because I’m asking them “What?” so many times. It’s just a simple part of my day and I just have become so much more empathetic to my patients because of this.
And just the social isolation that we’ve been dealing with as a planet, I guess, you know, just understanding that a lot of people, this is their way of life, whether it’s a hearing impairment or other type of disability. It’s so important to kind of reflect on that and see, put yourself in those shoes and see how that other person is feeling. And, you know, just simple things like greeting my patients or making sure that they understand everything before they leave and not having them feel overwhelmed and whatnot. It’s definitely brought a perspective to me that probably wasn’t there before, the isolation on its own.”
LS: “Yeah, that is very good one. And we always want to relate to our patients as much as we can and like really be human about our clinical care. That’s something we talk about on this show a lot, that there’s definitely a human on both sides of this interaction, which is something you have heard me talk a lot about in other podcast episodes.
And I wanted to also talk to the students and professionals who are listening and talk about taking care of yourself through grad school, specifically taking care of yourself through grad school in a pandemic, and what that has been like for you. What were the challenges? What are some things that you found to be super helpful in your interests outside of audiology and self care?”
Ina: “Yeah, I definitely took on a lot of different hobbies throughout quarantine and grad school together. I tend to be a very anxious, high energy person. And sometimes that can lead me spiraling into panic attacks before exams. And right before my comps, I got very, very anxious. I started to realize how important it is for me to do little things for myself to take away from all these anxieties and all the stresses of the world. And some things that really worked for me was as simple as taking a walk when I saw I was getting in my head or doing a workout or these very cliché things that actually work.
Taking a bath, doing my nails. It’s okay to make time for yourself. If you’re not going to make time for yourself, things aren’t going to go right for sure. I mean, there’s going to be so many different things in your day that come up, whether you’re in school or whether you’re seeing a patient that are gonna stress you out. And it’s important to realize these things and accept them, and then also have healthy coping mechanisms.
So, I mean, there’s a lot of things that I did during grad school that changed my life. I met my husband, got engaged, got married, all like, almost within COVID.”
LS: “Wow. Congrats!”
Ina: “So it really puts things in perspective in that sense that there’s so many other things that are important in life too.”
LS: “Definitely. And I think that goes back to the med school thing where I also was like considering med school and undergrad. And pretty much everyone I spoke to said, ‘You definitely have a way to make this work, but burnout is real and it comes hard and it lasts for like eight years.’ It is intense for a long time, whereas graduate school, even though it is intense and a lot, there are like peaks, peaks and valleys. Finals time, when you have your comp exams, oh, okay. Yes. You buckle down and you get serious and you can’t see friends and you can’t do anything, but you know, it’s not like that for the whole duration of the four years. You have to write a big thesis, but it isn’t like the way that med students and later on residents have, you know, 24 hour calls and all these other really intense shifts. So, when you’re thinking about career choices, make sure to talk to someone who’s in it and get the real life, day to day operation of what is this actually going to look like? Will I be able to see my family. Can I eat food besides for like pizza?”
Ina: “Yeah. I mean, there’s so many times where I forget that lunch is one meal and not five different snacks throughout the time of twelve and three.”
Ina: “You’re right. I mean, I think you said it perfectly, there are peaks and valleys in the program. There are weeks that it’s more relaxing than other times, and that’s a really good time to get a head start on the projects and the assignments. And throughout those one credit courses. I mean, that one paper you have to write, it’s best to get it out the way in the beginning so you don’t have to deal with it at a peak where you have a test and you have the midterm and you have all these other things going on. So, just balancing your schedules.
Luckily when you get your syllabus ahead of time, it’s really important to look at it and see, okay, what can I get out the way? The most simplest thing that you can do just to get out the way, it will help you so much. Your future self will thank you so much for just doing like the smallest thing. Yeah.”
LS: “That is a good tip. Very, very good tip. I remember that first week of every semester getting all the syllabi, sitting with my highlighters and my planner and it was like, okay people. And I love that. I love the fact that being a student, you knew what your next four months were going to look like, specifically to the minute. So, I also knew, okay, these are the times I’m already in Manhattan. I’m already there. So, I’m going to add two hours of library time on that day and things like that. So, get organized!!!”
Ina: “Yeah, getting that calendar all filled in as soon as you get those syllabi, it’s one of my favorite things to do in the beginning of the semester is write down all the days I have class and all the days I don’t and just kind of build this tentative schedule for myself that I can follow every day. And I can schedule all of life events around it and it works out. It’s not that bad.
In terms of managing life in grad school, it can get very overwhelming in the beginning if you don’t have that schedule within your routine, within your everyday routine, and can get into bad habits of sleeping in late because you have a class at four, but you gotta do what’s right for you or what works for you. That’s going to be different from everyone else. I know at some point during the program, I would ask the girls in my cohort, ‘Are you studying?’ Because I felt guilty because I wasn’t studying, but everyone learns differently. And it’s important to not compare yourself to your peers, because what may work for them, may not work for you and vice versa. And accepting that and understanding that, that maybe you need five hours to learn this concept and someone else needs one or the other way around. That’s really important, because I always did that. I always compared, and if my friends were studying 12 hours a day, I felt like I need to sit there and study 12 hours a day too. Meanwhile, you know, there can be so many different little things that you can do during those 12 hours, if you just have more of a strict approach with your time.”
LS: “Yeah, and exactly, not to forget that each person also comes with their own background. Because you knew what cochlear implants were, you yourself were implanting them into rats, if anyone missed that from the beginning, you know. So, you knew a lot about audiology concepts from a research perspective. And I remember that in some classes like the statistics class, we had somebody in our class who majored in economics and they were like breezing through that class when everyone else is like, what? This is so hard math and this is not what we want to do. So, everyone comes from their own background, their own knowledge and their own learning style. That’s such a good tip, not to compare yourself to your cohort. Yeah.”
Ina: “Yeah. And at the same time, it’s so important to work together as a group. You can get done so much more if you have a supporting group of people, cause you guys are all going through the same thing, you’re dealing with the same nuances of being a grad student one way or another. Having a group of people in which you can study with, you can freely ask questions and just kind of split the workup. Because there’s a lot of group work, at least in my experience, there’s been tons of group work and just understanding who you work well with and who you don’t and keeping it that way along the way will help tremendously and your time efficacy as well.”
LS: “So true. And if you can develop those relationships like early on, make that a priority. So, I went to grad school, graduated grad school, 2017. So, I don’t know what that is in the timeline of other people’s relationship to technology. But that was the first year I had a smartphone. My parents were very strict on the whole smartphone thing. I didn’t even have texting throughout college. And then here I was like in grad school, that was the first time I learned about Google docs. And here I was in a classroom and everyone’s typing into the same document, taking notes together. I was like blown away by this. Hahaha.”
Ina: “Google docs is one of my favorite things till this day.”
LS: “Yes. And Google docs and Google sheets and setting up like things that everybody could be editing at the same time. Even presentations, you could work on them. Obviously, everybody else knows this right now. Okay. This is like old news, especially post COVID. Everybody knows about virtual, working together stuff. But the fact that we can do a presentation without having to meet at the library, this was a game changer for me.”
Ina: “Yeah. It’s true. One of the things that really helped us as a group for this last comp that we did, we knew it was going to be oral. So, I actually organized so that we all meet on zoom and we just freely ask questions to one another that we were expecting from the test and it kind of put us in the spot and really tested one another on our skills and it made everything so much better for the day of the tests. We were more comfortable with speaking out loud, speaking on the camera, in front of other people. So, just thinking ahead in a way and how we can work together to make this easier for all of us essentially is so important with the people that you’re in the same class with.”
LS: “What do you think your plans are for after graduation? Do you have an idea of which direction you want to go with Audiology?”
Ina: “I love that question. I’m so intrigued by everything. It’s so hard to answer it. I will definitely be working clinically with patients, whether that’s going to be more hospital-based or, private practice based. I’m not sure yet. It’s a hard time right now because it almost seems like I’m willing to accept any job I can get because it’s COVID and jobs are so limited and it’s scary because the group that the year that just graduated before us, they graduated in May, which was really difficult to land a job. It was kind of right where COVID was still pretty bad. So, I’m grateful for any job. However, if I had to choose, I think I’m very interested in private practice, maybe one day opening my own private practice and taking it from there.”
LS: “That’s great. That’s a really good direction. And I love that you said that you’re intrigued by everything because that’s such a good place to be, and don’t lose that enthusiasm for everything audiology. And, like you said, you might switch in five years, in 10 years. You might become a podcaster.”
Ina: “You never know, you never know. Maybe I’ll become a YouTuber and do like cool audiology YouTube videos.”
LS: “Totally. There’s amazing audiologists doing great stuff. Dr. Ben Thompson, he was on the show. He talked about tinnitus. So, he’s on YouTube. Dr. Rose, Stephanie Marie Rose. She’s Dr. Rose helps you hear. And Dr. Cliff. Listen, there’s audiology representation on YouTube. So, you could definitely join that. Dr. Don too.”
Ina: “I think there are so many, and I love seeing all the different audiology accounts on social media, whether it’s Tik Tok or Instagram or YouTube. I love listening to those and I end up learning so much, especially when there’s a concept that I don’t understand well enough to explain it. I think that’s definitely when I go to the YouTube audiologists, because they do such a good job collectively at explaining really hard concepts, sometimes, in a very simple way.”
LS: “Yeah. And I think this also goes back to the other thing we spoke about, which is that you are not only an audiologist. You have family, whatever that looks like. You have your own interests, your own hobbies. And maybe you also have interest in something else, like business, or you’re also interested in social media marketing and you do this. There’s other skills in your life that you could incorporate into your career that’s not just like one thing.”
Ina: “Yeah. There’s many avenues to the field. It allows you to kind of be open-ended in that way. I don’t know where I’ll be in five years from now. I didn’t know five years ago that I would be here, to be honest with you. So, I enjoy that journey and that excitement, and I’m open. I’m open to new ideas. I’m open to trying things out. I’m so excited overall.”
LS: “Yes. Ina, thank you so much for sharing your journey with us and so many tips. So, just to end off, I always ask my guests, what advice do you have to our listeners?”
Ina: “My advice would be if you’re an audiology student and you’re unsure about the different career paths that are available for you, if you have specific questions about what you can do or how much can you expect to make, or these uncomfortable questions that aren’t necessarily always answered, ask the people that you think may know. Reach out to people. Cold email, cold call.”
LS: “You are so right. Ask if you don’t know, that is amazing advice. In fact, we did a whole episode on that, “No dumb questions”, that was with my husband, Dr. Yona Saperstein. We talked all about feeling confident and comfortable asking your providers questions. So, thank you. That is wonderful advice for our listeners.
And if anybody wants to find you and follow you, @neurohear on Instagram, and while you’re there, you should also come and send me a DM that you heard this episode. What resonated for you, what your path is, what you’re thinking about in audiology. I’m @allaboutaudiologypodcast and allaboutaudiology.com.
Ina: “Thank you.”