AMPHL Conferences: Reflections on the Value of Meeting in Person
by Chad Ruffin, MD
(Originally published on on 4.7.2017. Reprinted with permission.)

My first perception of AMPHL was mainly of an organization whose members were concerned mostly with amplified stethoscopes and navigating the issue of hearing loss during the job application process. Neither of these issues were directly related to succeeding in a surgical career. A good twelve years passed before I met a fellow member, Sam Atcherson, who encouraged me to attend an AMPHL conference despite there being no other surgeons in AMPHL at the time.

When I arrived at the Austin 2013 conference, I recall the nerves from not “hearing” anything as I watched excited conversations dance on the hands of fellow attendees. However, the perceived distance between signers and nonsigners (like me) was quickly bridged by the commonalities of overcoming hearing loss and the challenges of communicating in a world meant for hearing. Despite the diversity in hearing history and communication modes, these superficial differences were transcended by similar experiences, the common culture of medicine, and a desire to succeed.

Anyone who lurks on one of our digital media outlets might be pleasantly surprised that meeting in person at these conferences was much more effective for creating connections with one another than engaging with one another in online forums. While the presentations are great and very informative, it is these connections that have proven invaluable for my personal and professional development.

I wish I had become involved sooner in AMPHL. Over the years, I have realized that the common thread in all of our successes is our ability to communicate, self-advocate, and educate our colleagues to create a healthcare environment that is welcoming for all. I strongly recommend that medical professionals and students with hearing loss attend our conference.

Chad Ruffin, MD
AMPHL Treasurer 2015-2017