What is an Audiologist?
An audiologist is a health care professional who works with patients who have hearing, balance, and other ear related problems. They examine patients of all ages and diagnose, treat, and monitor disorders of the auditory or vestibular (balance) systems. If a patient is not able to hear within normal limits, the audiologist is able to fit the patient with hearing aids or map a cochlear implant for those patients with severe to profound hearing loss. An audiologist counsels a patient and the patient’s family through a diagnosis of hearing loss, offering instruction for positive communication strategies and optimal listening environments.
Other services from an audiologist can include cerumen (ear wax) removal, newborn hearing screenings, and implementing hearing safety programs. In the United States, audiologists are required to be licensed. In 2007, the entry level degree for practicing in the field became the Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree. Most states require continued education for continued licensure.
SIU Audiology - Our Story
The SIU School of Medicine was accredited in 1972. Over the next several years, the major departments were developed. The Department of Surgery, headed by Dr. Roland Folse, MD began recruiting for the sub-specialties, including Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, and Throat). In 1978, Dr. Ron Konrad, MD became the first Chair of the Division of Otolaryngology. He notes that it was the strong auditory research being conducted by Don Caspary, PhD that attracted him to the opportunity.
In 1979, the ENT residency program was approved. To support the new Division of Otolaryngology, a small Audiology Clinic was developed. In the early 1990s, equipment located on the fifth floor of St. John’s Pavilion was purchased from the hospital creating the building blocks for what would become the SIU Hearing & Balance Clinic. Dr. Carol Bauer, MD joined ENT in 1995. Her specialty of neuro-otology meant higher demand of audiology and vestibular services. In 2000 and 2001, additional SIU audiology positions were created to support the growing ENT Division and to increase direct patient services for people of all ages, such as hearing aids, vestibular rehabilitation, newborn hearing screening and cochlear implants. In 2003, audiological and vestibular services were combined and the Clinic was born. Since that time, the Clinic has added four additional audiologists. In total, we currently have 8 audiologists on staff.
We have developed sub-specializes of pediatric audiology, cochlear implantation, adult hearing aids, and tinnitus management. In 2003, we embarked on the quest to open a satellite clinic for adult hearing aid patients. Today that vision is coming to life at our new location on West Lawrence in Springfield. Together the team at the SIU Hearing & Balance has a shared vision—to be a Center of Excellence for Audiological care in the State of Illinois. We wish to be known for compassionate care, remarkable customer service, and state-of-the-art knowledge.
Meet the Audiologists
Kendra K. Watts, Au.D.
Dr. Watts is the director of the SIU Audiology program and has been employed as an audiologist at SIU since 2001. Dr. Watts is a member of the SIU Cochlear Implant team and also provides adult hearing aid services and diagnostic hearing services to children and adults.
Dr. Watts received her Master’s degree in Audiology from the University of Memphis and went on to complete her Doctor of Audiology degree from the University of Florida. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) and the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA).
Kendra is very active in endurance running, watching her children race quarter midget race cars, and planning Disney vacations.
Anna L. Bussing, Au.D.
Dr. Bussing joined the SIU audiology team in June 2011 after completing her Doctor of Audiology degree for the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in May 2011. She provides diagnostic testing, hearing aid fittings, and cochlear implant services for pediatric and adult patients. Dr. Bussing is a member of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA).
Anna is active in the local theater community and enjoys singing.
Jennifer Edmonds, Au.D.
Dr. Edmonds specializes in adult diagnostic testing and adult hearing aid fittings as well as vestibular assessment and management. She has been employed at SIU since 2005.
Dr. Edmonds received her Master’s degree in Audiology from Illinois State University and went on to finish her Doctor of Audiology at the University of Florida. She is a fellow in both the American Academy of Audiology and Illinois Academy of Audiology.
In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with family and watching her favorite sports team, the Green Bay Packers.
Kathleen is our senior Audiologist who has worked in the Division of Otolaryngolgoy since 1990. She currently is the coordinator for the Infant Hearing Screening Program. She performs infant hearing testing and ensures that all babies with hearing impairment receive timely follow-up and appropriate services for their hearing loss.
Jennifer Berry, Au.D.
Dr. Berry rejoined the SIU team in audiology after spending several years as a researcher in hearing and tinnitus. She completed her Doctor of Audiology degree at Illinois State University in December 2010. She is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and a fellow for the American Academy of Audiology (AAA).
Dr. Berry adds a new aspect to the SIU audiology department, providing tinnitus evaluations and coordinating the tinnitus management program. She assists in the clinical tinnitus research program, established by Dr. Carol Bauer. Dr.Berry also provides diagnostic testing and hearing aid fittings for adult patients.
Jennifer enjoys all types of live music, including opera, and also enjoys baking.
Suzi M. Pokrzywinski, Au.D.
Suzi Pokrzywinski is a pediatric audiologist who joined the SIU team in May 2005. She received her Master’s in Audiology from Rush University in Chicago, IL. Suzi specializes in diagnostic testing and hearing aid fittings for children of all ages. She is also a member of the SIU cochlear implant team.
Suzi is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and the American Academy of Audiology (AAA). She will be receiving her Doctor of Audiology degree in 2012.
Suzi has three children and enjoys keeping up with their different activities. She also enjoys baking and being outside.
Valerie A. Ray, Au.D.
Dr. Ray joined the SIU audiology team in 2004. She specializes in vestibular diagnostic testing and rehabilitation as well as diagnostic testing and treatment for hearing loss for adults and school aged children.
Dr. Ray completed her Master’s in Audiology at the University of Iowa and Doctor of Audiology degree at the University of Florida. She is a fellow member of the American Academy of Audiology and Illinois Academy of Audiology.
Valerie is involved with feral cat welfare and also enjoys painting, traveling, and baking.
Brittney D. Reidy, Au.D.
Brittney Reidy specializes in pediatric audiology, including diagnostic testing, hearing aid fittings, and use of FM systems. She is also on SIU’s cochlear implant team, providing care for both pediatric and adult cochlear implant patients. Brittney joined the SIU audiology team in 2006.
Brittney received her Master’s in Audiology at Illinois State University in 2005 and will be receiving her Doctor of Audiology degree from A.T. Still University in March 2012.
Other interests include quality time with family and friends as well as making scrapbook quality photo books.