Hear Hear: First Audiology Students Set to Graduate

The last year has been one of the best of Nick Fowler’s life.

The third-year audiology student at Pacific University spent the past year in an externship with the Seattle Veterans Administration, the last step in finishing his doctorate to become an audiologist.

With the VA, he worked six months in Seattle and six months in Tacoma, experiencing the full range of care that audiologists can provide patients.

“We got to experience the specialties, hearing aids, diagnostic work, cochlear implants,” he said.

“Working with cochlear implants — some of them haven’t heard in an ear for 50 years. Then they put an implant in, and some get really good success with that.”

Fowler is one of 18 students in Pacific University’s first class of doctor of audiology students, graduating in August 2015.

He chose Pacific in part for its location, but also because of the opportunity to shape a program as part of an inaugural class and because of the state-of-the-art technology students could access in the brand-new program.

He also was drawn to Pacific’s unique approach to the degree program.

Students complete a doctorate in three years, instead of the traditional four. The first year is heavy on classroom work, with students taking one intensive course at a time in a two-week block schedule.

“It’s a much more efficient way of learning the curriculum than four years, with long breaks between classes,” Fowler said.

The second year continues classroom work focused more on specialties, as well as several clinical rotations. The final year is a full-time clinical externship placement anywhere in the world.

Fellow audiology student Ellie Servia was placed with a clinic in Alaska, which serves patients in three sites, including rural Kodiak Island. The Northern California native was so excited about the opportunity that she signed on for a two-year contract, so she’ll stay with the clinic independently even after graduation this month.

“People are relying on your answers for very serious decisions about their health, their future, really their quality of life,” she said. “You’re really helping people.”

Fowler, too, found his externship extremely rewarding — so much so that he opted to stay with the VA. After a celebratory trip to Honduras with some classmates after graduation, he’ll take a position with the Veterans Administration in Eugene.

“I get to continue on with that organization; I’m pretty happy about that,” he said.

Above: Nick Fowler AuD '15 poses as a patient for fellow student Katie Osborne AuD '15.

Monday, Aug. 3, 2015