Licensed to Teach: Dr. Hensley on Returning to Academia to Teach Future Clinicians
Written By: Alexa Thompson
“The people in the department are easy to work with” Dr. Hensley answered when asked why she returned to the University of Florida. Regarding both students and faculty, she just “fit into the dynamic.”
Dr. Brittany Hensley is an adjunct professor in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the UF. She completed her undergraduate years here as well as her Doctorate of Audiology and Ph.D.
Undergraduate classes that Dr. Hensley has taught for the department include Audiometry and Hearing Disorders, Speech Acoustics, and Audiological Rehabilitation. She is currently teaching Audiometry to students in the Communication Sciences and Disorders major. Principles of Audiological Evaluation has been her favorite graduate course to teach. “Audiology is very diagnostic […] the class was like finding pieces of a puzzle and matching them up.”
These puzzle pieces are the data gathered from audiograms and various audiometric tests. Audiometric tests reveal the function of the structures such as the middle ear, cochlea, and brainstem. An audiologist decides on a diagnosis by putting these pieces together.
Her favorite graduate class to take wasn’t a class in Audiology but rather a class in education. It was essentially a course on “teaching for non-teachers”. From it she learned how to be a better educator and present information to better engage students. “That’s why I got my Ph.D!” Dr. Hensley revealed about teaching. It wasn’t as much about the extensive research as it was about the prospect of returning to academia to educate future clinicians. Part of the advice she imparts on her students is “to keep an open mind, in school and in working with future colleagues.”
Dr. Hensley describes herself as “a crafter of all sorts”. Her most recent crafting endeavor is painting, which she has on a few occasions done with her students. Last semester she put on a social for the the National Student Speech, Language, and Hearing Association where she taught me and other members to paint a Thanksgiving-themed canvas. I found myself to be a better artist than I expected!
In contrast to painting, Dr. Hensley says that “in work and in school there are a lot of long-term goals.” She enjoys having an art project to work on for a bit and “once it’s done, it’s done”. When asked if painting is a form of stress relief, her eyes widened in enthusiastic confirmation.
For Dr. Hensley, being an adjunct professor is all about flexibility – in her schedule and her teaching style. It gives her the ability to work part-time at the VA and spend significant time working on her crafts with her daughter at home. She extends this flexibility to the classroom, where she says that she is willing to change the course schedule or outcomes to adjust to the needs of her students.
One of the reasons why audiology is often compared to speech-language pathology is that students usually attend the same program for their undergraduate years before deciding between paths. Audiologists at UF’s Speech and Hearing Clinic have said that they chose audiology over speech because it extends more into the hard sciences. While this is true, audiologists still need to maintain some degree of flexibility. It’s why Dr. Hensley advises her students to keep an open mind. Even if the puzzle pieces typically fit easily together, clinicians need to be adaptable to changing conditions. This is for the benefit of their patients, their colleagues, and themselves. It allows them to fit the dynamic of a workplace, much like Dr. Hensley fit the dynamic of teaching at UF.
Edited By: Mirna Amaya
Alexa is a Junior pursuing a BHS in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a BA in Anthropology with a certificate in Medical Anthropology at the University of Florida.