Embracing Cross-Disciplinary Partnerships

By John Gournaris, Ph.D., LP

ADARA President


The following article was posted in the ADARA Newsletter released this month and is reprinted here with permission:

With our upcoming national conference, the planning committee is kicking into high gear to ensure that we will have a fantastic conference this year. The conference will be hosted near Baltimore, Maryland from June 1 to 4, 2019. As many of you may have already noticed, we are doing something very different this time. We are co-conferencing with the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses (AMPHL).

Naturally, both AMPHL and ADARA picked “Embracing Cross-Disciplinary Partnerships” as our conference theme.  The conference will bring together the members of two vital organizations to address common barriers by sharing information resulting in more effective solutions. We will have workshops covering behavioral health, vocational rehabilitation, post-secondary, medical education, health services, research, education, and access. It is anticipated that we will host around 300-500 professionals and students at this conference!

The AMPHL organization has hosted eight conferences since 2001, where hundreds of deaf and hard of hearing medical and healthcare professionals, as well as interpreters, share their experiences and solutions to overcoming barriers in their work. Creation of networking connections between professionals and students with hearing loss is a strength of AMPHL, which allows for advocacy and mentorship opportunities as individual members discuss experiences of going through medical school, training, or working in their respective healthcare fields. 

 You might wonder how ADARA and AMPHL agreed to host a conference together. Good question! In early 2015, I came across an e-mail announcing the 2015 AMPHL Conference at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. Their conference theme was, "The Team: Working Collaboratively." After several months of mulling on whether or not to attend, I decided to give it a go. I’m glad I made the decision to attend.

Approximately 150 people attended the Michigan AMPHL conference, including people from Japan and Germany. I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and met many new people in the medical and healthcare fields, including deaf medical doctors! I also noted that the AMPHL conference shared many similarities to our ADARA conferences. I decided to approach Dr. Michael McKee, who was then AMPHL president, and inquired about the possibility of collaborating our two associations by co-hosting a conference in 2019 (which was then four years away at that time). Dr. McKee agreed that this was a great idea. We both approached our respective association board members about the initiative, and both boards approved.  The overarching theme that seemed to pull both organizations together was the hot topic of cross-disciplinary partnerships, a topic which remains of broad and current interest. That was the beginning of the journey towards the upcoming 2019 conference. 

I also had the opportunity to attend my second AMPHL conference that took place at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) in Rochester, New York in 2017. AMPHL saw a record number 300+ attendees, including people from Canada, Japan, Uruguay, Germany, and Finland. For the first time, AMPHL offered four tracks over three days. At this conference, I gave a presentation on Integrated Health Care and addressed the implications for existing best practices and policy in behavioral health services for deaf and hard of hearing people.

The presentation generated interest among AMPHL attendees. This observation, coupled with AMPHL’s enduring commitment to providing information, promoting advocacy, and networking among deaf and hard of hearing healthcare students and professionals, affirmed for me that our ADARA organization made the right decision to collaborate with AMPHL for the 2019 conference.

Further confirming evidence can be seen in the 2019 conference program.  The program is chock-full of quality workshops and amazing topics that overlap between the two unique associations.  If you have not had a chance to look at the program yet, I urge you to check the agenda on the conference website. I hope you will be there with me to learn, interact, and see the significance of why cross-disciplinary partnerships are vital, especially to our deaf and hard of hearing population.

The 2019 conference will mark AMPHL’s 20th anniversary as an organization.  ADARA is thrilled to be part of AMPHL’s important milestone. With that said, I invite you to participate in our upcoming 2019 ADARA-AMPHL Conference as a conference presenter, attendee, or sponsor!