Meet the Mentors of the MedSLP Collective!

THERESA RICHARD
MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S
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CREATOR OF THE MEDSLP COLLECTIVE

“Dysphagia, I am obsessed with food, all of it. I am passionate about advocating for our patients and educating them about swallowing. I am also passionate about educating my fellow SLP colleagues about how really cool this field is.”

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

Well, I was bored.. haha but really I saw a HUGE need for supplemental education in this field. I don't like to sit and complain about things but rather do something about it, so I did!

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

You and you alone are responsible for your career and your patients. Invest in yourself and your education.

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?

Susan Langmore's Predictors of Aspiration Pneumonia.

What’s your go-to beverage?

Any and all wine 😉

KELLY CALDWELL
MA, MS, CCC-SLP
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Expertise: Voice, swallow, chronic cough, VCD/PVFM/ILO, RMST, MDTP, LSVT, trach/airway issues

What areas of our field are you most passionate about?

Kelly works in an ENT office full time and PRN in acute care. Before this job, Kelly worked full time in acute care at a level 1 trauma hospital. Kelly is passionate about throat issues that affect voice, swallow, and upper airway function. Kelly previously taught school as a k-12 music educator for 6 years before switching careers to Speech-Language Pathology.

Why have you decided to mentor this unique group?

I love giving back to our profession and sharing what so many other people have poured into me. I want them to be as passionate as me about practicing at the top of our license!

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

Never stop learning. If you think you’re done learning, you’re missing something!

Is there a research paper, technique, class or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?

MDTP was a game changer for me for Dysphagia evaluation, management, and treatment in acute care. It forced me to challenge what I thought were firm theoretical underpinnings for Dysphagia and as a result, my patients improved more quickly whether I was using MDTP or not.

What’s your go-to beverage?

I love an Arnold Palmer drink!

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?

”Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it-yet.” -from Anne of Green Gables

 

GEORGE BARNES
MS CCC-SLP
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EXPERTISE: Trach, vent, speaking valves, complex medical status, critical illness, aspiration pneumonia, instrumental studies, risk assessments and risk management.

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

When I first entered the medical field, I was passionate about speech pathology but felt unprepared. Graduate school simply did not prepare me for the clinical decision-making required of the position.  Unfortunately, this was long before the Medical SLP Collective was even a twinkle in Theresa’s eye so I had to bridge the gap through expensive CEU’s, consistent networking, and hours and hours of reading. The Medical SLP Collective gives you the option of bypassing all of that time and effort by providing you with the resources and network you need to be prepared and effective in your medical setting. The Medical SLP Collective is the bridge between academia and clinical practice- ultimately helping us improve the lives of the patients we serve. I am thrilled to be able to support SLPs in the field through this innovative platform.

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

You are a speech pathologist, not a therapist. “Therapist” is not on our license or certification cards for a reason. It may seem like simple semantics, but it’s much more than that. We are medical professionals on the same playing field as other mid-level practitioners. Doctors directly use our knowledge and expertise to make larger medical decisions. They rely on us to know our stuff. Yes, we do therapy, but we also diagnose, manage risk, provide detailed clinical recommendations, train other medical professionals, and work with the medical team to make important decisions that directly impact the patient’s overall care. You are a speech pathologist- wear that title with pride!

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?

The 1998 and 2002 Langmore studies on aspiration pneumonia. Typical, I know. But I was OBSESSED. I used to put actual quotes from the paper in my documentation notes (true story). I still re-read the papers every year to remind myself of the complexity involved in our decision making.

What's your go-to beverage?

Ice cold beer preferably paired with pizza or a cheeseburger. More importantly is my goal in life, which is to provide every patient I see with THEIR go-to beverage and meal. This is what truly makes being an SLP my dream job.

RAMYA KUMAR, MS.CCC-SLP, BCSS, CNT, IBCLC, NTMTC

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Expertise:  BCSS, CNT, NTMTC, TIP : trauma informed professional, orofacial myofunctional disorders, Cranial sacral therapy, Tummy Time Method

HILLARY COOPER
M.A., CCC-SLP
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EXPERTISE:  FEES, advocacy, end of life, university supervision, teaching, overcoming obstacles, creating inservices, FEES documentation, multitasking

VINCE CLARK
M. Ed., CCC/SLP
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EXPERTISE: SNFs, Adult Dysphagia, FEES, Endoscopy in General, NMES (particularly the Ampcare LLC protocol and parameters)

RUTH STONESTREET, Ph.D.,CCC-SLP Professor Emerita,Fellow-ASHA,Fellow NAP,BCS-CL

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EXPERTISE:  Syndrome disorders; Craniofacial disorders; Feeding Disorders; Developmental Language Disorders: All pediatrics 

Why have you decided to participate in this group?

One of my colleagues introduced me to this group and asked if I would be interested in sharing information regarding pediatrics and medical issues. Of course, I said
“Absolutely! I had previously thought this was specifically for SLPs who worked with adults, but after reviewing the information about the Collective and realizing how wrong I was, I was excited to share information and learn about other medical areas from the mentors. I only wished I had participated sooner!

If you could give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

The most important piece of advice would be to remain current in the field and be flexible.

Is there a research paper, technique, class or moment in your career that was a “game-changer” for you?

The opportunity to work in a program that was the forefront of providing interprofessional practice to parents and infants-toddlers-preschoolers with craniofacial
and syndrome disorders and early communication problems began the game changing. As a result, the program became a replicated study for pediatric feeding intervention, early communication disorders, and parent partnerships. This was a new model prior to Part H (now Part C) of IDEA, and the ”game-changer.”

What is your go-to beverage?
Wine—especially Stonestreet wine, and yes there is a Stonestreet Vineyards and Winery in California!

VALERIA GARY
M.A., CCC-SLP
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EXPERTISE: Parkinson’s Disease, motor speech, behavior change, motivational interviewing, outpatient, student mentoring, longevity in the field, cognition, AAC (outpatient adult).  American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified health coach, personal trainer and behavior change specialist, Precision Nutrition Coach (Working on Specialist in Change Psychology certificate too)
Lingraphica Certified Technology Specialist, MBSImP, LSVT LOUD and Speak OUT1

 

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

The culture of this group is as much an attraction to me as the content. When I see people sharing wins, allowing themselves to be vulnerable when asking for help, freely sharing information, and treating each other with respect, I know I have found my tribe. Through this group, I have been able to stay current and learn about areas outside of my specialty. At the same time, I have formed genuine bonds with other members.

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?

Reading Kleim & Jones' 2008 paper, “Principles of experience-dependent neural plasticity: implications for rehabilitation after brain damage” opened the flood gates to my love of learning on neural plasticity. “Shifting Tides Toward a Proactive Patient-Centered Approach in Dysphagia Management of Neurodegenerative Disease” by Drs. Rogus-Pulia and Plowman was another game changer in my practice.

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

Never stop learning, but give yourself some grace. The field will change, and the science will change. To fully quote Maya Angelou, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” And to quote Germany Kent, “Don't be afraid to switch it up. During the mix is where you may stumble upon exactly what you have been searching for that will help you find your niche.”

What’s your go-to beverage?

Water and full-bodied cabernets.

BRETT MCCARDEL
MS, CCC-SLP

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EXPERTISE: Aphasia, Apraxia of Speech

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

Client Perspectives, Best Available Evidence, and Clinical Expertise are the three pillars of Evidence-Based Practice that we all know and love, and this group embodies that. Many of the conditions that we work with as SLP’s can seem confusing and overwhelming to everyone involved (including clients, family/friends, and providers), and having a place where we can discuss different clinical considerations is invaluable. I’m looking forward to sharing what knowledge I have, along with learning from everyone else in the group!

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

Don’t undervalue your expertise—many things that we take for granted as SLP’s are NOT obvious to people who do not have our training. Providing both strong rationales for your decisions and consistent education on strategies and supports (no matter how seemingly basic to us) can make huge differences in your clients’ outcomes.

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?

The two biggest impacts on my development as a clinician have been learning about the Life Participation Approach to Aphasia and studying cognitive neuropsychological models of language processing. These two approaches complement each other wonderfully—by better understanding a client’s cognitive-linguistic profile, we can more comprehensively target the language skills needed for the meaningful and functional activities that the client wants to return to doing. By combining both approaches, we can create treatment plans that are client-driven and that have strong theoretical rationales.

What’s your go-to beverage?
 
A Kamikaze!
JESSICA LASKY
MS, CCC-SLP
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EXPERTISE: Dysphagia, FEES, ethics, complex problem solving, advocacy, multi-disciplinary education and collaboration, acute care, functional cognition and neuro rehabilitation, general career advice. 

RAQUEL GARCIA SLP-D, CCC-SLP, CNT, CLC, BCS-S

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EXPERTISE: Neonatal Care, Pediatric Feeding Disorders (NICU and beyond), Upper Airway Disorders, Craniofacial Anomalies, FEES/VFSS (infants, peds, adults) Adult Dysphagia, Critical Care, Neurogenic Disorders, Quality of life 

What areas of our field are you most passionate about?

Infant feeding/swallowing, Pediatric feeding/swallowing, Infant/pediatric instrumental assessments for swallowing and velopharyngeal dysfunction, Velopharyngeal dysfunction (including cleft palate, craniosynostosis, and non-cleft VPI), Airway disorders in infants and pediatrics, and the Role of the SLP in Acute care and intensive care units.

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

Over the course of my career as a student and practitioner, I have had multiple mentors who have embraced my quest to learn how to implement evidence-based practice within the acute care setting and in outpatient clinics. I enjoy teaching and learning on a continuum basis. I appreciate the approach that the MedSLP Collective has taken on, as cultivating evidence based practitioners is vital for our field, patients, and caregivers.

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

You are not on an island – be humble and collaborative with every patient interaction.

What’s your go-to beverage?

Café con Leche (no sugar)

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?

“I choose happiness”

KELLY SALMON, SLPD, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, CLT-LANA, NDC

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EXPERTISE: General dysphagia, motor speech, anatomy & physiology of the head and neck, neuroanatomy, FEES/VFSS, head and neck cancer rehabilitation, head and neck lymphedema, NMES, s-EMG, manual therapy (e.g. myofascial release), device-based intervention, exercise-based rehabilitation, student training and supervision, clinical doctorate, teaching at the university level, clinical research.

What areas of our field are you most passionate about?

– Adult Dysphagia
– Head and neck cancer-related issues (speech, voice, swallow)
– Laryngectomy, including alaryngeal communication rehabilitation, dysphagia post-TL, and voice prosthesis management
– Head and neck lymphedema
– Modalities for the treatment of dysphagia: manual therapy (MFR), NMES, s-EMG/biofeedback, lingual resistance exercise
– Student supervision
– Clinical research design and implementation
– Critical evaluation of research
– General medical SLP issues across settings: acute, LTACH, acute inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

I strongly believe in the mission and vision of this group and the focus on providing evidence-based resources for the membership. I am excited to foster the growth of MedSLPs across the lifespan through productive, civil discussion that focuses on all three branches of evidence-based practice.

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

Ask all the questions! And, don't ever underestimate your value or worth as part of the interdisciplinary team!

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?

When I became involved in the care of individuals diagnosed with head and neck cancer, I took on the challenge of working with these individuals from diagnosis through the various phases of survivorship. Early on, I identified a need for referral sources so that my patients with head and neck lymphedema could get the treatment they so desperately needed. When I found out that there were not may therapists in my area I took the leap of faith and went for advanced training to become a Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT) myself in order to serve my patients. While this was one of the most challenging endeavors I've ever embarked on, it has truly been one of the most rewarding parts of the therapy services I'm able to provide to my patients!

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

ASHLEY MICHAELIS
M.S., CCC-SLP

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EXPERTISE: voice & singing voice, chronic cough, exercise-induced breathing difficulties (VCD/PVFM/ILO), motor speech & movement disorders, Parkinson's disease/PD, SPEAK OUT! and The LOUD Crowd, long-COVID/PASC, graduate student training and supervision, complex problem solving, transitioning settings, Buteyko breathing

Ashley is the owner of a private practice specializing in voice, swallowing, upper airway, and neurogenic communication disorders. Prior to working for herself, she worked treating across the lifespan in a variety of settings: outpatient rehabilitation, inpatient rehabilitation, and acute care settings, as well as multi-disciplinary clinics (e.g., voice clinic, upper airway disorder clinic, movement disorders clinic, craniofacial clinic). She has also previously worked as a visiting lecturer and adjunct professor at the University level. She was a voice performance major prior to switching into a career as a Speech-Language Pathologist, which is why she is so passionate about voice disorders.

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

I was not fortunate to have good mentorship early in my career, which resulted in a lot of early career burnout and frustration. As a result, I had to really develop my self-mentorship skills (I do not recommend this) and seek out groups like MedSLP Collective. I want to give others a better mentorship experience than I was initially given.

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

Be open to changing your mind and your practice in the face of new evidence! Be open to the fact that our field is ever changing and evolving, which means that (1) the needs of our patients will change and evolve and (2) the way we practice, the assessments we use, and the treatment techniques we utilize will also evolve. Don't be the clinician that gets stuck!

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?  

One of the biggest “game changer” moments for me in my career actually occurred during one of my graduate student externships. I was working on a brain injury inpatient rehabilitation unit and my grandfather was admitted to the unit with a terminal brain tumor while I was at the placement. When I requested a transfer to a different unit, I was berated by my supervisor for being unable to separate my personal life from my professional life and informed that I would fail the placement if I couldn't handle it. It was a moment that I almost walked away from the field altogether. A few things happened as a result: (1) I decided that no graduate student clinician should ever have to go through that experience during their training and I set out to become a supervisor that would provide positive learning experiences to graduate student clinicians and (2) I decided that I wanted to be a clinician that didn't completely separate their personal life from their professional life because I realized that is part of what makes me a great clinician.

What’s your go-to beverage?   

My go-to beverage is water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

LYSA JOHNSON
MAS CCC-SLP

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EXPERTISE: Rehab Program Development, Compliance, Regulatory, Insurance, Medicare, SNF, LTC, Dementia, CFY supervision and CFY new graduate, Dysphagia, Ethics, Productivity, Cognition, Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Caseload development and growth, Home Health, outreach, Co-treatment, Director of rehab, Synchrony and modalities, Palliative, End of life, Hospice, Corporate and leadership

Certifications and such: Dementia Capable Care Certified Instructor, Crisis Prevention Instructor, Positive Approach to Care Mentor and Coach, Alzheimer's Association Community Educator and Support Group Facilitator, Dementia Action Alliance Corporate Leadership Council Board Member, Alzheimer's Person Centered Care Certified Trainer, Evergreen Certified Dementia Care Specialist, MOCA certified Rater.

Lysa Johnson received her Masters and Bachelors Degrees in Communication Science and Disorders from the University of Minnesota- Duluth. She is a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), Clinical Mentor and Rehabilitation Program Development Specialist with Benedictine Health System.  Mrs. Johnson holds ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence, is a member of ASHA Special Interest Group 13 (Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders), a member of the Twin Cities Speech Language Pathology Organization and has ten years’ experience as an SLP. Her clinical focus includes work with hospitals, sub-acute care facilities, transitional care units, rehab and skilled nursing facilities, home health and outpatient clinics focusing on interdisciplinary program development, CMS regulations and requirements across care settings, patient and clinician education and program development. 

What areas of our field are you most passionate about?

I am obsessed with patient advocacy through therapist education. I believe that knowing insurance rules and regulations gives us so much power as therapists. Being able to not only advocate for your patients but also for our discipline as a whole is something that drives me. I also love interdisciplinary education, teaching and training. Seeing what can happen when an entire team is able to focus as a collective to reach goals within their care settings to make positive patient impacts is empowering. And Dementia 🙂 working with individuals living with dementia and their care partners has a special place in my heart and is an area that can often seem scary and overwhelming so finding ways to reach clinicians to help them work with ILWD is amazing.
 

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

I am in a very unique role within my organization in which I am responsible for interdisciplinary program development- I realized quickly that I will never be able to know it all or be an expert in it all – so I wanted to find a group that shared my drive for evidenced based, clinically driven and compassionate information. The mentor and members of this group come from all walks of life and all bring such amazing and unique experiences and education to the table. Being a part of this group makes me not only a better clinician but enables me to help others become better clinicians in areas that I may not be as strong in.

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?

I sat in on a panel discussion presented by individuals living with Dementia. Hearing them share their life stories and perspectives on not only the SLP and therapy field but healthcare and the biases that are out there was more powerful than any course I have ever taken.

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

Don’t give up. There may be times that it feels like you have a mountain to climb and everything is stacked against you- but know that you have a group of people here who have been there, who can mentor you and can help you take the little steps to reach amazing goals. And know who your MAC is 😉

What’s your go-to beverage?

Gavi white wine from Italy…… When not in Italy I love a Hendrix Gin and tonic with a twist of lime.

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?

I could not at any age be content to take my place by the fireside & simply look on. Life was meant to be lived; Curiosity must be kept alive. ‘Your vibe attracts your tribe’ 🙂

KATIE THRELKELD
ABD, CCC-SLP
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EXPERTISE: AAC, Aural Rehabilitation, Motor Speech Disorders, Neurogenic Communication Disorders – all across the lifespan.  I am working on my certification as a LSLS AVT therapist and am trained in Speak Out. I am signed up to get my LSVT certification and plan to get it in both adult and peds. 

Why did you want to become an SLP? 
Katie Threlkeld, M.S., CCC-SLP, ATP is a licensed, ASHA certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) and a Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) certified assistive technology professional (ATP) with almost 10 years of clinical experience in AAC, neurogenic communication disorders, motor speech disorders, and aural rehabilitation assessment and intervention across the lifespan. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Virtual Clinic Coordinator in the Katz School for Science and Health at Yeshiva University, the Educational Program Developer at Forbes AAC, and a paid mentor for the Medical SLP Collective. She serves on the ASHA SIG 2 (Neurogenic Communication Disorders) Professional Development Committee and is certified in SPEAK OUT! and LSVT Loud. Katie has presented at the state and national level on topics related to motor speech disorders, AAC, and aural rehabilitation and has extensive teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate level. She is currently a Doctor of Education student at Rockhurst University with a concentration in Higher Education, expected graduation in May, 2025. When not engaging in teaching, scholarship, and service, Katie likes to travel, spend time with her family and friends, golf, and go to sporting events cheering on the Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Cardinals, and Arkansas Razorbacks. 
 
What motivates you to crush your goals? 

I love this field so much! I want SLPs to have the skills to go in, evaluate, and treat with confidence and they get that through the mentorship this group provides. I am constantly learning from the mentors and the members, and I love that I can provide help to SLPs in my own specialty areas.

 
Have you ever had a pivotal “ah ha!” moment in your career?
I think the first time I had a physician ask my opinion on a shared patient. I was in my graduate school medical clinical rotation, and it was truly an “ah-ha” moment. I realized how powerful our role is in patient care and how important it is to work together as a multidisciplinary team.
 
 
Do you have any words of encouragement for your fellow MedSLP Collective group members?

As a part of this field, you get to be a lifelong learner! Embrace that as an opportunity to learn about new findings, research techniques, etc.

Favorite Drink?

Start my day with coffee and end it with red wine 🙂

JULIE HUFFMAN
MA, CCC-SLP
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EXPERTISE: FEES, MBS, RMST (EMST/ IMST), Parkinson Disease, Voice, VCD, chronic cough, Post Concussive Syndrome, hypotussia/Peak Cough Flow eval/ therapy

Julie is the lead SLP at UNC Rex Hospital in Raleigh, NC, with 27 years of experience in medical speech-language pathology. She serves as supervisor and clinical preceptor for 27 SLP staff in acute care, outpatient rehab, and skilled nursing. Julie has taught nationally and internationally for 16 years on dysphagia, esophageal disorders, FEES, and evaluating and treating people with Parkinson’s disease. She was an invited speaker for a short course at the ASHA convention in Boston in 2018. Julie has taught multiple short courses at NC State Association meetings (NCSLHA) including courses on esophageal dysphagia and Expiratory Muscle Strength Training (EMST). She was featured on the “Swallow Your Pride” podcast episodes 33 and 34 which were rated in the top 5 by SLP listeners in 2019. Julie was awarded the Triangle Business Journal “Healthcare Hero” Award in 2014.

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

I love everything Theresa has created and wanted to be a part of sharing and supporting other SLPs through this great platform!
3. Be humble, be kind, and read a lot of research 🙂 If you don't know something, be your own best resource!

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

Be humble, be kind, and read a lot of research 🙂 If you don't know something, be your own best resource!

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?

A moment! It was in the year 2000 when I got a new job. I was the primary SLP completing all outpatient MBS and FEES. I realized a lot of my patients had esophageal symptoms and knew very little about the topic. I started searching and reading papers from GI, ENT, and radiology. Papers by Dr. Bronwyn Jones, Dr. Martin Donner changed by practice immediately and dramatically! That was the beginning of a 21-year self-study!

What's your go-to beverage?

Daytime: Kombucha! Happy hour and beyond: red wine

CARLY SCHIFF
MS, CCC-SLP
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EXPERTISE: Voice disorders, stroboscopy 

What areas of our field are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about any and all voice disorders including singing voice and pediatric voice.

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

I have decided to be a part of the Medical SLP collective for so many reasons. I first decided to join so I could gain more knowledge and resources towards my dysphagia evaluation and treatment (and the collective has given me just that). What I didn't realize I'd get and crave so much is a group of people to connect with and share clinical wins, questions, and even frustrations. I have always worked with a team of SLPs in person and just recently I transitioned to working solo in an ENT practice. Having the ability to still collaborate with other passionate, hard working SLPs has been invaluable.

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

My advice to others in our field is to fight for a job that fulfills you and allows you to do what you are passionate in. The voice world is highly competitive and getting a voice CF did not come easy to me. But I networked and emailed and displayed my passion for all to see and was lucky enough to end up in an incredible setting with incredible training. My other piece of advice is to be confident in what you know and aware of what you don't know. For the areas you are an expert in, never back down on the knowledge you have. At the same time, never be afraid to ask for help or seek out knowledge on the things you arent as confident in.

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?

The biggest game changer in my career was taking an Estill Voice course. It put all of the things I though I knew about the vocal mechanism into tangible language and usable tools. I was lucky enough to be trained by one of the best voice therapists in our field, Wendy LeBorgne (who actually was my voice therapist when I was a young singer). I owe most of my knowledge to her. But, when I left my job with her and moved to Columbia Medical Center's Voice and Swallowing Institute in NYC and found myself treating around 90% professional singers, I had to learn on my own some new tools. My patients were getting better but it didnt feel evidenced based. When I took Estill, I realized everything I had been doing and why it worked! Every voice question I've had since then I have been able to figure out using the tools I learned in that course.

What’s your go-to beverage?

I would say my go to beverage is almond milk haha. I really don't drink often, but if I were to have an adult beverage, it would be prosecco for sure.

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?

I truthfully do not have a favorite quote, I've never been good at remembering quotes. But I will give you one of “my own” quotes that I use in voice therapy all the time. “Be breathFUL, not breaTHY.” I know thats not as good as an inspirational quote, but maybe others will find it inspiring 🙂

REBECCA FLOWERS
M.A. CCC-SLP
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EXPERTISE: acquired brain injury, pediatrics, medically complex pediatrics, pediatric feeding, inpatient rehab, counseling

Speech-language pathology is a second career for Rebecca, but it's where she found her calling. She is passionate about all things brain injury, pediatrics, and gets excited by the nuanced difficult cases that use your whole brain. When she isn't working directly with patients, Rebecca loves teaching, whether during invited lectures, working with graduate students, or the every day interactions with patients and their families. Outside of work, she can be found singing loudly in her car, running very slowly, and enjoying walks with her three dogs and two children.

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

When I found the MedSLP Collective, I couldn't believe there was a group of medical SLPs out there that truly supported and lifted each other in an evidence-based setting. I was over the moon to join as a mentor in such an amazing group!

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

Get comfortable being uncomfortable and saying “I don't know” (but also “I'll find out”).

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?

The moment when I realized I knew what I was doing was when I was able to cite evidence and make it accessible to a parent, have a graduate student read the evidence, and then use that evidence in a care conference with physicians and other team members to guide decision making surrounding a very difficult and nuanced case.

What’s your go-to beverage?

Chardonnay, preferably from the Russian Rive Valley. Amazing.

 

ALYSON WARE
MS, CCC-SLP, CLC
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EXPERTISE: PFDs (under 12 years old) in outpatient setting

Why have you decided to participate in this group?
Because The MedSLP Collective made me the clinician who I am today. I was constantly supported in my journey in becoming a pediatric feeding therapist and now get to pass the knowledge that I have acquired onto others.

If you could only give one piece of advice to others
in our field, what would it be?
Always be open to learning. There is SO much information currently out there and new research coming out each day. Being vulnerable, asking questions and seeking guidance is the only way that we can grow.

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game-changer” for you?
Oh boy, so many! Goday et. al. (2019) Pediatric Feeding Disorder Consensus Definition and Conceptual Framework has given me a logical roadmap when assessing and treating children with pediatric feeding disorders (PFDs) and when teaching others about PFDs. The clear definition also provides a foundation for advocacy work and increasing children's access to services.

What’s your go-to beverage?
Vanilla latte!

Maura English Silverman
M.S.,CCC-SLP
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EXPERTISE: Aphasia

1. Why have you decided to participate in this group?
I am at a stage in my career, and in my life, in which I want to give back and be there for individuals in the same ways that I was supported, mentored and inspired. The reputation of the Collective is well known and it’s focus on positivity, collaboration and acceptance is aligned with my personal values and the humble, supportive sharing of knowledge and experience is exactly what needs to happen in our field.
2. If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?
It’s hard, being as “seasoned” as I am, to limit this response to ONE piece of advice; so I’ll share a few gems that I wish someone had told me: if you feel something in your gut, trust it. The level of care that we give is not written in a cookbook or manual format, it’s being in tune with the human that we are serving and recognizing the impact to the individual as well as everyone in their social network. Think outside of the box and with the perspective that something can be done in a different way…if it doesn’t exist, create it. Treat every client as you would your closest family member/friend and never never never withhold “hope” because of a diagnosis or current status. No one has ever faulted me to for providing hope.
3. Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game-changer” for you?
The Life Participation Approach (to Aphasia,…but broadly can apply to any communicative challenge) was an acknowledgement and validation of all that I had felt was wrong with the workbook, drill training I was learning about in school. It is why I am a Founding member of Aphasia Access and believe passionately in our role to coach, support and facilitate opportunities for (re)engagement in life. Pairing this philosophy with the science of Neuroplasticity creates unlimited potential for those we serve. And I’d be remiss to exclude the moment that I said YES to staring the Triangle Aphasia Project Unlimited program… it was a leap of faith and one that I couldn’t have done without the support of my family, friends and amazing colleagues.
4. What’s your go-to beverage?
I used to be addicted to Diet Coke, but I gave it up several years ago and now I drink grape Amino Energy, water and a nice glass of pinot grigio 😊

MICHELLE DEHGAN
MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S
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EXPERTISE: EMST, SCI, MBSImp, BCS-S, FEES, IMT, breathing exercises, management of dysphagia, management of complex TBI, trach/vent, cognition, supervision and student training, laryngeal trauma, analysis of clock drawings

Michelle Weber Dehgan is the Research/Education Coordinator for Speech-Language Pathology at TIRR Memorial Hermann, as well as, a practicing clinician. She graduated with Communication Sciences & Disorders degrees from The University of Texas @ Austin (BS) in 1995 and The University of Houston (MA) in 1997. She has completed additional education and training in research & epidemiology. She has special interests in dysphagia, brain injury, ethics, spinal cord injury, and supervision. She became Board Certified Specialist in Swallowing & Swallowing Disorders in 2007 (pediatrics & adults). She is an ASHA CE administrator for Memorial Hermann Health System. She presents locally and nationally on a variety of topics related to these areas of interest. She is a current an active member of ASHA, the Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals, Dysphagia Research Society, Special Interest Division 11 on Supervision & Administration, and Special Interest Division 13 on Swallowing & Swallowing Disorders. She is the recipient of 13 ACE awards from ASHA for excellence in continuing education.

What areas of our field are you most passionate about?

I’m very passionate about the management of dysphagia and clinical education.

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

I believe everyone should have access to information in order to inform clinical decision making and become better clinicians.

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

Exceed continuing education requirements.  10 hours a year is subpar and will not lead to excellence.

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?

So many that to name just one would be so hard.  A recent paper I’ve shared quite a bit is the “Evaluation of the Natural History of Patients who Aspirate by Bock, Varadarajan, Brawley and Blumin (2017) in The Laryngoscope.  As for a technique I think the McNeill Dysphagia Therapy Program was a change in my treatment methodology.  And for a class, the First Charleston Swallowing Conference (It’s all about treatment) in 2005 lit a fire in me to get more objective on data collection.

 

What's your go-to beverage?

Coffee in the morning or a glass of bourbon barrel red wine at night

 

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?

 

“the beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you” BB King

MARY BURNS
MS, CCC, SLP-BCPA
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EXPERTISE: Neurogenic dysphagia, dementia and dysphagia, exercise program development, exercise principles, patient advocacy, informed consent, FEES, navigating difficult workplace situations, burnout, MDTP

Mary has been working as a medical speech-language pathologist, across the continuum of care, since 2014. She currently owns her own practice, providing in-home therapy to adults as well as mobile FEES services across Oregon. She also serves as an instructor for McNeill Dysphagia Therapy Program.

Mary decided to be a member of this community, and later a mentor, because of the kind community of driven clinicians dedicated to pushing the field forward.

If Mary could give one piece of advice to others in our field it would be, advocate with persistent patience. If you believe something to be right and appropriate, never stop at “no.”

Reading Kleim & Jones' 2008 paper, “Principles of experience-dependent neural plasticity: implications for rehabilitation after brain damage” opened the flood gates to my love of learning on neural plasticity. “Shifting Tides Toward a Proactive Patient-Centered Approach in Dysphagia Management of Neurodegenerative Disease” by Drs. Rogus-Pulia and Plowman was another game changer in my practice.

Mary's go- to beverages are La Croix or Ninkasi's Total Domination IPA

VANESSA BURSHNIC-NEAL
PhD, CCC-SLP

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EXPERTISE: dementia, cognitive-communication, PPA, supporting caregivers of people with dementia, memory books, spaced-retrieval training, external memory aids, Montessori for dementia

 

Kate Krival
PhD CCC-SLP
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EXPERTISE: Voice, motor speech, aphasia, neuro differential diagnosis, student training and issues related to student supervision, and I just love a good PROM. 

 

I am so excited to announce that the wonderful Sierra Downs has been selected as April's member of the month! Sierra not only posts thoughtful clinical questions in the group, but she is constantly giving encouragement and insight to other member as well. I am so inspired by her passion and dedication to our field. Sierra truly embodies what it means to be a member of the Collective and we are so thankful to have her here with us!

We asked Sierra a few questions so that you all can be as inspired by her as we are:

Why did you want to become an SLP?

My love is, and always has been, voice and communication – the auditory/acoustic aspects of the vocal instrument, its anatomy and physiology, but also the funky “meta” parts of it as a communication tool – how we use it, why we use it, and what it says about us as individuals and groups. I started my career in voice pedagogy and music education – I planned to be a voice teacher and choral director. Yet, I remember becoming frustrated with all of the abstract analogies my voice instructors would use over the years, and I knew I was not accessing the science behind all of it somehow. I started becoming disconnected from my passion for the art, so I knew it was time to change course. (Probably a good move, since no one wants to hear me play piano.) I took a break from school and worked for a bit, went to community college, and eventually learned about speech language pathology. When I realized I could still combine my interests in a person-centered, science-based way, and still bring people together, I knew I could make this SLP thing work. Now I understand the importance behind finding the right analogies, especially for communicating the “invisible” things we work with, like voice and swallowing.

What setting are you currently in and what settings do you have experience in?

Oh boy – I am currently in a setting of confusion, as many of us are right now. I’ve previously worked in outpatient with adults/peds where I was fortunate enough to have access to VFSS/MBSS; I’ve also worked in skilled nursing and home health. Currently, I own a private practice where I see folks virtually or in-person in the community; I accepted a part time position at a critical access hospital providing outpatient services, am contracted at a nearby cancer center, and work PRN in skilled nursing. I recently signed up for our local Medical Reserve Corps chapter and am on the board for our state speech and hearing association, so that has been filling up my available time. Absolutely everything seems to be in flux right now.

What motivates you to crush your goals?

My patients, my colleagues, and my family and friends – but also knowing that I am learning new skills, expanding my own beliefs, and challenging myself along the way. Crushing goals is just fun!

Have you ever had a pivotal “ah ha!” moment in your career?

Realizing that I can use my voice to advocate for myself, my patients, and my colleagues. My biggest “ah ha” moment was likely in grad school, though. My close friend and SLP mentor was able to guide me through a very difficult time, as my partner’s father battled oropharyngeal cancer. I felt that universal sense of helplessness, despite having just finished our semester in dysphagia, as my family asked for guidance on how to manage swallowing difficulties at home and outside of the home, decision-making on laryngectomy surgeries and unexplained outcomes from chemo and radiation, and dealing with severe, debilitating trismus. By reaching out for resources, I was able to equip myself with the right language to guide and counsel my loved ones through effective, end-of-life comfort care. It is definitely a part of why I’m doing what I’m doing. The experience was a great lesson in why a valued part of my “toolbox” is simply connecting with colleagues and asking for help.

What is your favorite thing about the MedSLP Collective?

The sense of community and support, but mostly the strength of the collective. I know SLPs are sponges for language, too – and this might be my favorite part: The collective gives its members a chance to absorb and follow clinical language in real time, as other clinicians actively explore and share it themselves.

Do you have any words of encouragement for your fellow MedSLP Collective group members?

Be gentle with yourself and others right now; hold space for your patients and colleagues, but remember to take care of yourself also. Lean on and support your local community. Speech language pathology is never truly cut and dry; I think it’s more minced and moist (I’ve been wanting to make that terrible joke for a while!) Know in your heart that you are always a kick-ass SLP, with brains to boot. You are living, breathing examples of what it means to be passionate about what you do, whether you are at home keeping everyone healthy or on the frontlines fighting the good fight. We’re all experiencing a very different world right now, but I think the best part is that we’re living and learning about it together.

RACHAEL SILVEIRA 
M.A., CCC-SLP

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EXPERTISE: Rachael specializes in feeding/swallowing disorders throughout the lifespan. Rachael has diverse training in respiratory and artificial airways populations, dysphagia in trauma complications, medically complex neurogenic disorders as well as NICU feeding/swallowing complications.
Certifications / Coursework: EMST, MBSimp, MDT, PMV/trach vent expertise, FEES ongoing competencies

Rachael Silveira is an ASHA Licensed SLP CCC credentialed SLP working at a fast paced Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Miami, Fl.

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

I have decided to participate in this group to assist in providing powerful insight to those looking for assistance in their current settings

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

My advice is to continue growing and NEVER remain stagnant. Don’t dance in spaces that others wish to change the music everytime they can’t handle the rhythm of your passion and progress . Don’t stop your growth even if it intimidates others.

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?  

Game changers for me were development of my Tracheostomy team at my facility to really see how underutilized our SLP skills were with this specific population and how we could change their quality of life simply by 1 visit!

What’s your go-to beverage?   

Go to bev is a spicy margarita or a nice red glass of cab 🙂

ISABEL LAWTON
M.S. CCC-SLP

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EXPERTISE: Student training, professional issues, ethics, cognition, brain injury, dysphagia, disorders of consciousness, pediatric everything (except NICU), trauma, med complex, professional development, public speaking, resume/interview review and prep, counseling for the profession, AAC, program development, leadership, interdisciplinary collaboration, challenging behaviors, patient advocacy.

 I have been practicing for a little over 10 years in a variety of settings across the lifespan. Currently based in Jacksonville, FL, I work as a PRN acute care therapist, an adjunct professor, and I also own my own private practice. Fun fact, speech therapy is my second career. I have two bachelor's degrees in Business Administration. These have served me well from the professionalism and program management aspect of my career as an SLP.

Why have you decided to participate in this group?
Empowerment and support for my colleagues have always been great passions of mine. I strive to share information that could help elevate clinical practice whenever possible. When invited to join the Collective as a Moderator and Group Expert, I could not pass up the opportunity. This role allows me to check all of the boxes of collaboration, growth, development and giving back to the field.

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

You are the expert in your domains. As such, you must own the responsibility of ensuring you are always at the top of your game. Your voice and contribution matter greatly.

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer,” for you?

 In graduate school, I worked with a child with severe cerebral palsy. Their mother was told many times that the child was not a candidate for AAC. My professors agreed to let me try. I immediately focused on adding salience to their therapies. Not only was the child a candidate, but they also became a pro when using the speech-generating device. What an incredible lesson early on in my career to NEVER underestimate your patient's will and ability.

What is your go-to beverage?

Situation go-to beverages as follows: wedding/parties – 7&7; beach/summer – frozen daiquiris and coladas; weekends – chilled white wine and/or poinsettas; sporting events – IPAs and ciders. Cheers!

KRISTIN WEST
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Kristen M. West MA CCC-SLP is a Speech Pathologist with experience in a variety of pediatric settings. She has experience in birth to 3 early intervention, pediatric acute care, NICU, CICU, PICU, transitional care, inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient pediatrics. She has also served as adjunct faculty at the University level. Currently, she is a safe feeding consultant for a local educational agency .

What areas of our field are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about pediatric dysphagia and children with complex medical histories. I am also passionate about ensuring these clients have appropriate access to services not only in the acute care and outpatient setting but in community based settings such as early intervention, schools and home health.

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

I love that the collective is filled with professionals with want to grow and learn. It is a support group who are passionate about EBP and I love that!

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

Never stop learning!

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?

My game changing moment is when I first started practicing in the field and realized that not everyone understands and utilizes EBP, It really was an eye opener out of grad school and I wanted to make sure I was a person who advocated for EBP for the clients we serve and who never stopped striving to be the best SLP I could be for my patients. I would also say some of my best game changing moments have come from families I have been able to help by providing appropriate interventions targeted at their child's individual needs, that are evidence based, and hearing from them that I had a positive impact on their lives.

What’s your go-to beverage?

Depends, in the morning coffee with cream, but I also love a good dry red wine or a hoppy IPA.

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?

Life is a Journey not a a destination.

TIFFANI WALLACE
MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S
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EXPERTISE: EMST, LSVT, MBSImP, MDTP, FEES, NMES, BCS-S

What areas of our field are you most passionate about?

Dysphagia

Why have you decided to participate in this unique group?

I love to teach.   I love to be the person that creates that “ah-ha” moment in other SLPs.

If you could only give one piece of advice to others in our field, what would it be?

Never stop learning.  When you think you’ve learned everything in our field, find something new because you will never know it all!

Is there a research paper, technique, class, or moment in your career that was a “game changer” for you?  

The Susan Langmore paper from 1998 of course.   Also, the VitalStim course was a major click for me of how everything works together!

What’s your go-to beverage?   

Margarita, Wine, coffee

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?  

I have many quotes that inspire me!