We’d really like to hear more from our members in each newsletter and on our website.

If you would like to share your story in the future, please send your name to Gina Hounam at gina.hounam@nationwidechildrens.org.

Member spotlight


I had the pleasure of asking Ryan Pratt, AuD, F-AAA, CCC-A a few questions recently. 



Here is what he had to share:


I grew up in Pomeroy, Ohio in southeast Ohio and I graduated from Ohio University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I graduated with my doctorate in Clinical Audiology from Ohio University in 2010. I completed my fourth-year externship at the Ohio University Speech, Hearing, and Language clinic. My first job as an audiologist was working at Adena Regional Medical Center in Chillicothe, Ohio. I then moved to the south and was employed at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, GA for 4 years as a clinical staff audiologist functioning as the back-up cochlear implant audiologist and I was responsible for supervising 3rd and 4th year Audiology graduate students. I’ve also held contract positions at Georgia Regents University Medical Center and at the Dublin VA Medical Center performing compensation and pension examinations for the Department of Veterans Affairs. 


I am currently employed at the Huntington VA Medical Center in Huntington, WV as a staff audiologist performing diagnostic evaluations, dispensing of amplification, and telehealth audiology services to the Charleston, West Virginia Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic.


Why did you become an audiologist?


I originally wanted to become an Otolaryngologist. I picked up Psychology as a second major because counseling interested me so much. When I was a senior in college I worked for the distance learning program and was the operator for the intro communication sciences course and became very interested in Audiology. It was the perfect blend of medicine, counseling, and constant learning for me. I started taking classes required for the graduate program and decided it was the career for me.


What is your favorite part of Audiology?


I enjoy how vast our career field is. I have been able to work in a university clinic, a large regional medical center, a university hospital, VA clinics, perform telehealth, etc. all with the same degree. I also love working as a VA audiologist. I love history and I get to hear firsthand every single day incredible stories from veterans. I also enjoy the instant gratification of knowing I helped someone communicate and interact better with their loved ones.


Where do you currently work and what does a typical day look like for you?


I currently work at the Huntington VA Medical Center in Huntington, WV. My typical day includes performing diagnostic hearing evaluations, dispensing amplification and assistive listening devices, and telehealth services.


What else should we know about you as a person outside of Audiology?


I have a son who is on the autism spectrum. He has taught me so much about patience and really opened my eyes to what many of my patients feel on a daily basis when a family member has a disability. I will say it was strange to sit on the other side of the table and receive treatment plans, therapy exercises, and IEP’s about your own child discussed with you. My son went from being a non-verbal 2-year-old to speaking sentences in less than a year. It has been an amazing and humbling journey for me and my family and every good day is a blessing.


Please share a favorite Audiology patient story with us:


I had a patient who was a Pearl Harbor survivor from WWII. He was heading to Hawaii for the yearly Pearl Harbor reunion and he had lost his hearing aids. I was able to get a new hearing test performed, new hearing aids ordered, and the hearing aids fit prior to his trip to Hawaii to make sure he didn’t miss a single thing at this important event. Knowing I was able to help someone out who sacrificed so much for this country was extremely fulfilling.


Why did you join OAA?


I always wanted to be part of the organization when I first graduated with my AuD, but then I moved to South Carolina for four years. I always came back and attended the Ohio Academy of Audiology Conference while I lived in South Carolina and loved seeing old friends and colleagues. When I returned to Ohio, Dr. Erin Miller asked me to attend the Mapping Future Leaders in Ohio Audiology Conference to become more involved in our state organization. I think this conference is a wonderful event and I would recommend it to anyone who is thinking about getting involved with OAA. I know when I first wanted to become part of the organization, I felt like I had nothing to contribute. I will be honest we have some very big shoes to fill in our organization, and it was quite intimidating to want to get involved, but after the MAFO I felt much more confident in joining OAA. I love knowing I am making a difference in our profession at a local level.


How does OAA benefit you?


Our profession is constantly changing with telehealth services, over the counter hearing aid sales, audiology assistants, etc. and it is way too much for one person to keep up with. Not many members realize that nearly 50% of our dues for OAA go directly towards lobbying efforts to help protect and promote our scope of practice in the state of Ohio. I often hear people complain about feeling as though their professional organizations do not do enough for them, but most pay their dues, never get involved, and expect things to magically change. I feel like OAA really represents our profession at the state level and I would encourage every Ohio audiologist to join because our dues really help with shaping future legislation that directly impacts our profession in the state of Ohio.


What can YOU do to be a part of Audiology’s future in Ohio?


By being a member of OAA, I know my membership is helping support our legislative efforts to protect and promote our profession in the state of Ohio. I feel by being a member of OAA I can educate not only the public, but also fellow professionals on the issues directly impacting our field and let them know someone is looking out for them and advocating for them.


 We’d really like to hear more from our members in each newsletter and on our website.


If you would like to share your story in the future, please send your name to Gina Hounam at gina.hounam@nationwidechildrens.org.


Previous member spotlights:

I had the pleasure of asking Michelle Shannon, AuD, CCC-A a few questions recently.  Here is what she had to share:

I grew up in Littleton, Colorado and graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a bachelor’s degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. I graduated from the Doctor of Audiology program at Missouri State University. My career began at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health where I was part of the cochlear implant team for 7 years. I have since worked at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  I joined OAA in 2016.

Why did you become an audiologist? I always knew that I wanted to work in the medical field and with people. As I searched for how I wanted to do this Audiology was presented to me and I immediately knew it was the career path I wanted to follow. I have never looked back or regretted this decision.

What is your favorite part of Audiology? Interacting with families and patients. Listening to their stories about the success of their child due to the audiological intervention they received. Also, all of the “kids say the darndest things” moments in the clinic.

Where do you currently work and what does a typical day look like for you?

I work at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. My current clinical day includes cochlear implant evaluations and follow-up, outpatient evaluations and ENT clinic. I will begin adding Evidenced Based Practice responsibilities to my schedule at the end of the month.

What else should we know about you as a person outside of Audiology? I treat my English Mastiff as if she were human. She even has her own twin bed!

Please share a favorite Audiology patient story with us: I previously worked at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. When I was leaving a cochlear implant patient gave me a stuffed toy with a speaker. She had recorded herself saying “I love you Michelle”. Her mother shared that they gave this to me because she wouldn’t have found her voice if I wasn’t part of her team.

Why did you join OAA? One of my colleagues, Gina Hounam, consistently shares the benefits of OAA with us. I am proud to support an organization that positively promotes our field. 

How does OAA benefit you? I attended an OAA event at the State House where we met with our legislatures. This is such an important part of advocating for our field and patients.

What can YOU do to be a part of Audiology’s future in Ohio? Education among the community is one of the most important aspects to the future and success of our field.


The OAA Board proudly presents our “Member Spotlight” highlighting our members. Our current member in the ‘spotlight’ is Mindy Heater, Au.D., Audiologist with Diseases of the ENT in Gahanna, OH.  Mindy received her Au.D. from the Ball State University, returning to Ohio in 2005.  Mindy grew up in Mentor-on-the-Lake, a city east of Cleveland, OH.  She attended Ohio University for her undergraduate degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences.  Her husband Tommy works at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  Mindy and her husband both enjoy family time outdoors, hosting a weekly bible study in their home, and serving at their church.  Their children Lexie and Levi attend Liberty Christian Academy.

Recently, Gina Hounam, OAA Secretary, had the pleasure of asking Mindy a few questions about her journey to becoming an OAA member.  Here is what Mindy had to share.

What is your favorite part of Audiology?  My favorite part of audiology is developing relationships with my patients and learning life lessons from them. I have especially learned from those who have endured trials and maintained joy. They have strengthened my faith. Witnessing the amount of pain caused by simple loneliness has opened my eyes and convicted my heart. I am learning to take the advice and wisdom of those that have experienced the consequences of their own mistakes. I have laughed and cried with patients as they have shared the pleasures and tribulations of life. The empathy and compassion that is developing in my heart from these relationships is not meant to stay there. I leave work better equipped to love and serve others in the world because of the meaningful time spent with my patients.

Where do you currently work and what does a typical day look like for you? My morning typically begins pondering questions that were never covered in graduate school. Questions like: What did I do before dry shampoo? Does giving into corndogs for breakfast make me a bad parent? Do all 7 year-old girls have hypersensitive heads when a brush is near? Do all 3 year-old boys lose total control of their muscles while getting dressed? Do all neighborhood school buses stop at every other house or just the ones that are on my way to work?

I finally make it into work at Diseases of the ENT in Gahanna. I started there 11 years ago as a fourth year extern and never left.  I am blessed to work for a fantastic practice with co-workers that are like family. My workday is typically a busy day of a combination of vestibular evaluations, hearing aid checks, hearing aid consults and audios. I usually end my workday wondering how the day went by so fast. I eventually settle on leaving a pile for the next day so I’m not the last parent to pick up their kids from extended care.

Please share a favorite Audiology patient story with us:  I like the funny stories. Recently as I was fitting a patient with hearing aids, he recalled a story from his childhood about his father losing a hearing aid on the farm. He said that his dad gathered all the boys to start looking for it in a specific area. He happened to find his dad’s hearing aid right away. But instead of revealing his find, he decided to continue to search alongside his father and brothers for about an hour while randomly cupping his hand around the hearing aid to make it squeal every couple minutes!

Why did you join OAA? When I returned to Ohio to start my career, I knew very little about The Ohio Academy of Audiology. Fortunately I worked with people that saw the value of getting involved. They showed me that it was more than just paying dues to get a discounted rate at the OAC. It is joining with other audiologists with the common goal of advancing the field of audiology. It is encouraging and supporting each other as we plan for and participate in professional development activities together.

I have been privileged to work closely, at my current practice, with two past presidents of OAA over the years. They have allowed me to witness the professional growth that occurs when you put your time and talents into an organization like OAA. I know that my schedule does not currently allow for that kind of commitment so I get involved at a much smaller level as the registration committee chair for the OAC. In all honesty, I initially volunteered out of a little bit of guilt because of my lack of involvement while I watched a small group of people do the work of many. To my surprise, my obligation turned out to be enjoyable! I have had a ton of fun learning from other audiologists and becoming friends with OAA members as we serve the profession together.

Member Spotlight