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Getting to Know: Keri Colio, AuD, CCC-A, Cochlear Implant Clinical Coordinator and Clinical Audiologist

Health care isn’t magic, but some aspects of the field can certainly feel that way. Take it from Keri Colio, AuD, CCC-A, cochlear implant coordinator and clinical audiologist with Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego’s Audiology Department: Her work revolves around helping children with hearing differences or hearing loss experience sound, often for the very first time. In honor of Better Hearing and Speech Month, and of all the awesome things Keri does for Rady Children’s and her patient families, we took some time to get acquainted with this wonder-worker (and recently awarded Rady Children’s Employee of Excellence).

What is a typical day in your role like?

A typical day in my role as cochlear implant coordinator and clinical audiologist consists of providing in-person and telehealth patient care, interaction with insurance companies, and discussions with our multidisciplinary CI team.

How did you get involved in your field?

I took an introductory course in communication disorders during undergrad at the University of Tennessee (GO VOLS!) and fell in love with audiology and speech pathology. I took a year off after graduation and worked in a local school district as a speech language pathologist assistant. I worked mainly with children with hearing aids and cochlear implants, and that’s when I knew I wanted to pursue a doctoral degree in audiology.

What is the most challenging thing about your role? How about the most rewarding?

The most challenging thing about my role as the CI coordinator is not being able to provide all the necessary services immediately to the families. In my dream audiology world, if the child is a CI candidate, I would love to be able to identify the hearing loss, move the family through the multidisciplinary candidacy process, have the child undergo cochlear implantation surgery and then activate the device all in the same day. However, for several reasons, that is not possible. Maybe one day!

The most rewarding part of my role is seeing the faces of children of all ages when they hear sound for the first time. A close second would be getting to see how the parents and families react to their loved one hearing for the first time. Each time I get to witness these moments, I feel incredibly lucky and humbled to be part of their hearing journey.

How can children support their peers with hearing differences?

Hearing loss awareness is the first step. Once children know about hearing loss, they will be able to learn more and understand their peers with hearing differences. Ask questions! As audiologists, we encourage our patients with hearing loss to advocate for themselves and educate others regarding their hearing loss.

What education and training does it take to become an audiologist?

A doctor of audiology (AuD) degree is required, which is typically a four-year program that occurs following completion of an undergraduate degree. This typically takes seven to eight years.

What’s a funny fact most people wouldn’t know about you?

I know every single word to “Ice Ice Baby” for some reason. It’s not even one of my favorite songs, but it is definitely catchy!

If you had to pick three movies or TV shows to watch for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

“The Office,” “Full House” (the original version) and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

If you could live anywhere in the world besides San Diego, where would it be and why?

New Orleans for sure. The people, the food, the city … there is no doubt about it in my mind, but I promise I’m not making any plans! Haha.

If a restaurant served “The Keri Special,” what would that dish be?

This is a tough one, but I’d have to say “The Keri Special” would consist of a delicious steak cooked medium rare topped with mushrooms, a blue cheese wedge salad on the side and then some sort of chocolate fondue dessert.

What is the number-one experience or activity you want to do?

I would love to go on a safari to see gorillas in their natural habitat. That would be a dream come true!