Dr. Dakota Sharp has found a way to combine his passion for teaching, learning and podcasts into his career
Entertaining and connecting with an audience from behind a microphone has been a common theme throughout Dakota Sharp’s life. He’s been a wedding deejay and pub trivia host; currently, as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Audiology at the University of South Carolina, he teaches online and in-person courses for students pursuing their master’s degree. Whether it’s in-person or through technology, “I’ve just always loved hosting and facilitating,” says Dakota.
Fittingly, as the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic set in and in-person interaction was more limited, Dakota decided to launch his own podcast in July 2020 called “On the Ear: An Audiology Podcast.” The show focuses on his field as well as communication more generally, featuring both audiologists and speech-language pathologists.
Episodes are posted biweekly, and with each one, he not only discovers a new medium to engage with and educate others in a fun, interesting way, but he also finds another outlet for him to learn along the way as well. In the opening of every episode for the podcast, Dakota introduces himself to listeners with his job title, followed by describing himself as a “lifelong learner.”
“I put the ‘lifelong learner’ line in the opening because I really do believe that, and it’s one of the coolest things about all of this,” he says. “I cannot put into words how much I’ve learned doing this podcast.”
The desire for constantly acquiring new knowledge is why obtaining, and maintaining, one’s CCCs is so vital to his and his colleagues’ work, whether it’s in clinics, private practices, or the classroom. In fact, Dakota applied to make listening to his podcast qualify as ASHA continuing education units (CEU) in order to reach more people’s preferred style of staying informed.
“It’s up to us to have an active role in our continuing education,” Dakota says. “And if you want to be a clinician at the top of your scope of practice, the CCCs help you to be up to date, whether it’s through listening to a podcast, reading an article, or attending a conference.”
Speaking from his own experience, Dakota emphasized that the CCCs have also helped connect audiologists and speech-language pathologists to collaborate more fully and benefit from their shared needs and goals.
“Because I’m in a university clinic with SLPs, I’m in a very blended atmosphere of speech and hearing, so I really do see the value in an organization that promotes that and maintains standards for both of those groups that accommodate each other,” he says. “Plus, ASHA is a really important organization in terms of advocacy and lobbying power, so we can see good progress for our collective interests there too.”
As a result, Dakota is able to bridge potential gaps between both fields with the knowledge gained from his CCCs, whether it’s with his students or interviewing one of his guests.
When it comes to booking guests, Dakota has both pulled from his personal network — in an episode on racial disparities in hearing healthcare, his guest was Dr. Logan Faust, a close friend he studied with in undergraduate and graduate school — as well as leaned on the extensive ASHA network to find guests. The ASHA Leader magazine has been “one of the top places I find future guests,” he says.
“The podcast has been the most amazing networking opportunity,” he says. “Listeners reach out to me because they want to be on, know someone who they think should be on, or I read an article [in the Leader] and invite them on. Because ASHA is both worlds together, I do get to find a lot more interest between both fields.”
Among his listeners, Dakota’s two-year-old son is a fan. Recently, he mastered a request that their Google Home play the latest episodes — “Ok, Google, play ‘On the Ear’ podcast” — yet, despite knowing the title, he still calls it “Dada podcast.” Whether Dakota is reaching his son, his students, peers across the communication sphere, or just an interested audience, he recognizes that his CCCs and the support from ASHA have allowed him to reach this point in his career, both in the university setting or his makeshift audio booth.
“If you combine the networking, resources, and established competence standards, those are the things that you’re looking for in a professional organization, and ASHA provides all that,” says Dakota.