Audiology faculty and students from East Tennessee State University have recently donated more than $60,000 in services and discounted hearing aid devices to patients who attended the Remote Area Medical clinic that took place in Gray last November.

RAM is a major nonprofit provider of free pop-up clinics. Students, faculty and staff from several ETSU colleges and programs assist annually at clinics held throughout the region. Volunteers from ETSU’s Doctor of Audiology program attended the Gray clinic in November and tested 40 patients for hearing aids. Of those patients, 28 were identified as persons who could benefit from hearing aids.

Those individuals were invited to come, free of charge, to ETSU’s Center for Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology at the Nave Center in Elizabethton in order to be fitted for hearing aids in January and February.

“We were pleased to fit 49 hearing aids this year,” said Dr. Shannon Blevins Bramlette, clinical assistant professor. “Through this collaborative effort between our faculty and students, we were able to donate more than $60,000 in services, including the testing, fitting and education for these hearing aids. The patients did contribute to some of the cost of the devices, but we were able to get the hearing aids at deeply discounted rates from the manufacturers and provide them at cost to the patients.

“We are appreciative to be the recipient of the ETSU Foundation Grant in 2018 with the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences that allowed us to fit a total of 105 hearing aids to RAM participants since 2018,” Bramlette said. “This program has been a wonderful way to help people for whom hearing aids might be outside the realm of what is economically possible for them to afford. Being able to get properly fitted hearing aids can be a life-changing event, particularly now with COVID-19 since people are masked and their mouths are covered. People who are hearing impaired can really feel isolated.”

The community outreach is also beneficial to the first-, second- and third-year doctor of audiology students who volunteer and gain valuable clinical experience as a result.

“Volunteering for Remote Area Medical is easily the highlight of my graduate school career,” said Becky Jurius, a clinical graduate assistant in the Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. “Coming together with my classmates to donate our time and energy to help people from all walks of life is so inspiring. We decided to pursue audiology because we want to help people, and RAM is an easy but impactful way to make a huge difference in our patients’ quality of life.”

Jurius also serves as vice president of ETSU’s chapter of the Student Academy of Audiology, the national student organization of the American Academy of Audiology. SAA hosts a variety of fundraisers throughout the year in efforts to raise money for community outreach projects like RAM. Upcoming fundraisers and ways to get involved are advertised on their Instagram account (@etsusaa).

To learn more about ETSU’s Doctor of Audiology Program, visit etsu.edu/crhs/aslp/audiology.

Contributed to the Press