Member of the Month

We’re starting something BRAND NEW here in The Medical SLP Collective.

I have been so inspired by reading all of your [WINS] and watching you CRUSH your goals that I decided to start celebrating the MEMBER OF THE MONTH!

That’s right! And it could be YOU!!!

Each month I'll choose a winner by looking through the group analytics to see who’s most engaged in the forums, who’s crushing the goals you set yourself, and who just oozes positivity and amazingness.

Not only will the winner be interviewed and featured in the group the following month, they’ll also get some goodies in the mail.

And don’t worry, we want to spread the wealth. Share how you’ve crushed your goals and you might just get a little treat in the mail too!

Katie Gollin

September 2019 Member of the Month

When I think of SLPs who #KnowBetterDoBetter while also understanding that we are totally #BetterTogether, I immediately think of Katie.  Katie has faced some pretty significant pushback against change in her facility, but doesn’t let it get her down or bog her down in negativity. Instead, Katie exemplifies positive persistence, changing her strategies and using evidence to support her in her quest to improve patient outcomes in her building.  Katie knows that learning never ends and that it truly takes a village of SLPs to support each and every one of us. When I first met Katie, she was on the verge of leaving the field of speech pathology. I’m so glad that she found the support and guidance she needed to not just find her passion for our field all over again, but to become a champion for her patients and an avid supporter of other SLPs. You are truly an inspiration to us all, Katie!

We asked Katie a few questions so that you guys can be as inspired by her as I am! Here are her responses:

Why did you want to become an SLP?

I wanted to become an SLP because I have always wanted to be in a helping profession. In college I discovered this career path and ran with it. Originally wanting to work with children, as I gained more experience working with the adult population, I changed my course and decided to pursue medical speech pathology. It is my passion in life to improve the quality of life of my patients and help them to communicate and eat/drink what they desire.

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

I am currently full time in the SNF setting and also work in acute care PRN. I recently decided to pursue starting my own private practice in order to  truly have freedom in my career and give my patients the exact type of care they deserve.

What motivates you to crush your goals?

Honestly, it's my patients first and foremost that motivate me to crush my goals. Each and every patient deserves the best care that can be provided and it is my goal to give them that. That’s why I spend so much time diving into research, podcasts, and forums in order to become a better SLP. Second, it’s people like Theresa and the mentors/members of the Collective that motivate me as well. When I see that others are doing it, I know I can too with that little bit of drive. To see the impact they have had on the field makes me strive to even be a fraction of the speech pathologists they are.

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

Yes, probably a few of them. I’ll be the first to admit that I had very little idea what I was doing when I began my career 4 years ago. Some of the therapy I provided, I look back and cringe on. Once I realized that there was so much more to learn, I was motivated to dive into research and begin the learning process post grad. Ultimately this lead me to the Swallow Your Pride podcast and the Collective which opened up so many more opportunities for me to grow in my career and help my patients.

What is your favorite thing about the MedSLP Collective?

It’s difficult to choose just one thing! I think the thing I love most is the community. It’s amazing to be connected to so many knowledgable SLPs and have the research right at your fingertips. It gives me no excuse to not give the best care I can. It’s helped point me in the right direction with my evaluations and therapy, but also my career path. I think I would’ve given up on this career (tried to a couple times) without the community I have found.

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

Gosh, I think just 100% don’t give up on your dreams. I promise you that I got to the point where I was so fed-up with this field and felt like a failure. You think that you can’t make a difference sometimes but you can. Keep advocating. I’ve gotten pushback on top of pushback at my facility for instrumentals, changing policies, and implementing programs to help the patients and the facility. Each time I come across a conflict with it though, I get one step closer to my goal of implementing that program or changing administrations mind. Just this week, I sat down with my DOR because she could tell I was frustrated and we had a very productive conversation about where to go from here. I also just had a conversation with two PAs at my facility to explain why diet waivers don’t work and how I utilize informed consent to help my patient’s and also keep them safe! I couldn’t have done it without the Collective or this community and I am so so so grateful for that.”

Brooke Jehle

August 2019 Member of the Month

Brooke Jehle is the epitome of what we look for when choosing our Member of the Month. She just oozes positivity in the forums and can often be found greeting new members and making new friends & connections and freely sharing her wealth of knowledge and experience with our members. She frequently asks GREAT questions and clearly has a thirst for learning and is consistently striving to level up her clinical skills. She’s also had some pretty awesome wins this month ranging from helping a patient with aphasia find the use of functional communication (and laughter in the face of otherwise tragic circumstances) to getting a sweet letter of gratitude from a Nurse Practitioner thanking her for being so awesome with her patients. Seriously, Brooke, you are an inspiration to us all! 

We asked Brooke a few questions so that you guys can be as inspired by her as I am! Here are her responses:

 Why did you want to become an SLP?

 “My Grandma had a stroke when she was 40 years old. She had aphasia, dysphagia, and eventually dementia. She worked with SLP, PT, and OT. Although she was able to live on her own, she experienced physical deficits for years after. Growing up, my cousins and I didn’t realize the immensity of what she had been through at such a young age. She was previously an RN and single Mom, but after the stroke, was unable to work and dependent upon my Mom and Aunt. It was only as I became older and realized what she had went through. I that point, I realized her strength and courage to fight for her ability to live independently, and to regain her communication skills. I knew I wanted to become a speech pathologist at 15 years old after having watched my Grandma work with speech pathology due to reoccurring strokes. Seeing how important communication and swallowing are, and personally witnessing how losing those abilities can impact quality of life made me extremely passionate to work with adults in the medical field.“

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

“I am currently floating between outpatient, inpatient, and acute rehab. I spent most of my time M-F in outpatient, with additional hours and Saturdays on inpatient/acute rehab. I also work PRN at a SNF down the street which I LOVE because these variations in my setting allow me to see some of my patients at every level of care.

Side note to this – It was so cool to get the PRN position. I had a patient with HNC who transitioned from my care in OP to the SNF I work PRN at due to changes in his medical status during treatment. As a result I was able to collaborate with the SLP there and we became good friends and now colleagues! I’m really excited because she just became a member of the Collective.“

What motivates you to crush your goals?

“Helping others motivates me to crush my goals. I love seeing the look on a patient’s face when they communicate something they’ve not been able to say, or sharing a cheeseburger with one of my cancer patients who previously was unable to swallow solids, and collaborating with colleagues on a project together. It’s the small magical moments in each day that keep me inspired. I love helping my patients and am motivated to do the best work I possibly can.”

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

“Yes. I hate to say this, but when I completed my externship I was taught to thicken liquids at bedside. When one of my colleagues pointed out that I shouldn’t be doing this because I couldn’t accurately identify impairments at bedside it was like a light popped on for me. I began to realize that there was so much more that I needed to learn that I hadn’t learned in grad school. That moment for me, motivated me to print off endless research articles and begin consuming as much information as possible. That’s how I ended up finding Swallow Your Pride and eventually the Collective J As a result of this experience I am trying to actively spread awareness to these topics as often as possible, and to help as many younger SLPs entering the field as possible. I actually was just asked by a graduate program here in MO to take my first student this coming spring.”

What is your favorite thing about the MedSLP Collective?

“Wow. It’s hard to choose a favorite because I honestly cannot stop talking about the Collective to everyone I know (and anyone who happens across me on social media J) But I think the biggest thing for me is connection. I’ve met so many amazing SLPs through this group. When I meet someone in real life who’s a member I automatically know that this person is on my same wavelength – that they are willing to go above and beyond to spend money and time to use Theresa’s term “level up” to help provide our patients with the best care! My coworker on Outpatient is a member and I love being able to sit with her regularly and discuss various topics. I love getting on the FB group and seeing everyone’s [Win]s. That shared energy and positivity always inspires me and makes me so happy. I’m grateful for the Collective because of all of the information and support that it gives, and honestly, can’t imagine how I lived without it!”

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

“Don’t give up on your dreams and goals. It might sound corny, but it’s 100% true. It you want it, you can make it happen. I knew since the age of 15 I wanted to work with adults in the medical field. I was one of the only people at graduation who didn’t have a job. I spent several months applying the summer after grad school and ended up applying to 100+ positions around the country. (We still joke about my job log LOL) I ended up having several job opportunities and accepted the position I am currently in because I knew that I would have the possibility of working with patients with HNC. Fast forward about two years, and the program protocol I helped develop for patients with HNC has been implemented at other hospitals in the district. I think that when we remember our “why” everything else can fall into perspective. Every time I get upset or frustrated I remember why I started and why I show up every day. I try to change my way of thinking. Instead of “I have to” I think “I get to” and list things I am grateful for on a daily basis. I feel extremely grateful for the work we all get to do for a living, but I know that we have all experienced stress and challenges. It’s in these moments that I take time to remember my “why” and think about all that I am grateful for.”

Libbie Gary

July 2019 Member of the Month

Huge congratulations go out to Libbie Gary!!  We are all so incredibly inspired by Libbie. Libbie’s positive approach to life, “get it done” attitude, and passion for our field is what makes her such a special Speech-Language Pathologist and person. Never one to settle for just ONE win, Libbie recently shared with the Facebook group a monthly break-down of WINS from the first half of the year. These WINS include some majorly awesome accomplishments, including passing MBSimp, taking MDTP, mentoring fellow SLPs through ASHA’s S.T.E.P program, presenting on Parkinson’s disease, and advocating for her patients day in and day out. When confronted with a challenging task such as advocating for productivity changes, her great attitude finds the positivity in the situation instead of letting it get her down. She’s also a competitive weight lifter, which is just so COOL! You are soooo amazing, Libbie! We're so glad to have you in this group!
 
We asked Libbie a few questions so that you guys can be as inspired by her as Theresa and I are! Here are her responses:
 
Why did you want to become an SLP?
 
It was a decision that I made in high school. I originally wanted to be a newscaster, but I read that it was hard to get jobs as a speech communications major, so I went to the next (alphabetical) thing in the one career guide that my high school had. I do wish I had a more meaningful “why.”
 
What setting are you currently in and what settings do you have experience in?
 
I am in my absolute favorite setting- adult outpatient neurorehab. I started in skilled nursing facilities. My next jobs were- residential settings for adults with developmental delays, sub-acute rehab, mobile MBS unit (also a favorite job), universities, home health, and hospitals (acute, IRU, LTAC).
 
What motivates you to crush your goals?
 
Seeing others do the same. I am a product of the energy I surround myself with. I’m also an avid list-maker, so checking off my goals gives me a big rush. 
 
Have you ever had a pivotal “ah ha!” moment in your career?
 
I stay on rabbit trails. I have “ah ha” moments too frequently to recount.
 
What is your favorite thing about the MedSLP Collective?
 
I love the high standards that we are all pushed to achieve. I’m glad that we aren’t allowed to make suggestions simply based on how we’ve always done something. I love my accountability group which has been pivotal in keeping me on track. 
 
Do you have any words of encouragement for your fellow MedSLP Collective group members?
 
Keep learning! I’ve been practicing for almost 30 years, and the risk of burnout is real. Thankfully, we are in an ever-evolving field. If you get tired of one thing, you can learn about a whole new aspect of the field or decide to specialize in a different area.

Alison Adell Stepp

June 2019 Member of the Month

Huge congratulations go out to Alison Adell Stepp! You may have had the fortune of conversing with the Alison in the Facebook group, as she can often be found providing encouragement and really great responses to tons of questions you guys share. Alison started out May with a pretty huge bang by *FINALLY* getting approval for FEES in her facility. For those of you who have worked to establish your own facility FEES program, you’ll know what a HUGE accomplishment that is by itself! Alison has also worked hard in her facility as well as online to advocate for our profession AND her patients. Thanks for being so amazing, Alison!
 
When notified that she had been given this honor, she replied: “My FEES approval kicked off my BHSM and now this to close it out? It’s been a great BHSM2019 for sure!!”
 
We asked Alison a few questions so that you guys can be as inspired by her as Theresa and I are! Here are her responses:
 
Why did you want to become an SLP?
 
“Well, sometimes I cringe at this question. The short answer is I really don’t know! My bachelors is in Early Childhood and Special Education. I was interested in continuing my education and always loved that my kids loved my school SLP, going with her, and loved that she had the opportunity to focus with such individualization on the students' needs. Long story short I had an opportunity to participate in a great program between Texas Education Agency (TEA), Texas Speech-Language Hearing Association (TSHA), and Texas Womans’ University (TWU) and signed up. Honestly, I had NO idea that the medical side of speech pathology even existed! After getting over the shock of the course overview I ended up loving my neuro classes and how scientific and research-driven the whole field was. I graduated and kept my foot in the medical door over the years until I finally dropped school altogether from burn out of SpEd law (I was also a SpEd director by that point) and realized how happy I was with my hospital colleagues.”
 
What setting are you currently in and what settings do you have experience in?
 
“I am a rural SLP and I currently work in a 25-bed critical access hospital, in both acute and outpatient settings. I also work at our only local SNF, and in the birth to 3 program on a Native American reservation. There’s been times off and on where I had great patient continuity of care: I saw you in acute, in SNF, in HH, then finally in outpatient……I also have experience in every area including inpatient rehab, all levels of schools, and home health and two of my favorite areas of our field continue to be working with Autism and AAC even though dysphagia has risen to the top too.”
 
What motivates you to crush your goals?
 
“I think what motivates me is how rural we are in our small state. I frequently think “why do we have to have limited services just because of where we live? I feel that if we advocate and educate it helps our patients and our profession. It’s just me, so it’s up to just me.”
 
Have you ever had a pivotal “ah ha!” moment in your career?
 
“I have had so many ah-ha moments! The one that made a huge impact recently, and that could only have been accomplished with the education and support from this group and Theresa, was my goal to become a FEES provider. Because of the school-based focus of my grad program, I had very little FEES experience. I have quite a bit of experience in MBSS, but I was trying to advocate for quality patient care for my HNC patients and obtain a PRN contract with our mobile FEES provider in the state (which is over 3 hours away) and running into red tape at every turn. I finally had that ah-ha moment and thought “Why am I doing this?” And decided to petition for the equipment. I wrote a proposal, advocated to key personnel who would be supportive, contacted companies to educate myself, and was awarded the capital on May 1st for equipment and training.”
 
What is your favorite thing about the MedSLP Collective?
 
“It would have to be 3 things. The positive supportive environment, the ease of access on the fly for this busy SLP, and the research and quality of presenters and materials.”
 
Do you have any words of encouragement for your fellow MedSLP Collective group members?
 
“To the members of the MedSLP Collective: you are already some of the smartest in our field by just knowing that we are stronger together! Being one of the many SLPs on their own island, this collective has given me the opportunities to continue to grow professionally. I say frequently “always keep learning” to my colleagues, patients, and grad students and this group helps the learning to happen with focus, current research, and quality information. There are many opportunities for learning out there, but what we have here is a complete package.”

Rachaele LaManna

April 2019 Member of the Month

Congratulations goes out to Rachaele LaManna! She just exudes positivity, has crushed some HUGE goals in the last month including finishing MDTP and MBSimp (among tons of other smaller goals), and is the embodiment of what makes this group so amazing. She freely shares her knowledge in these forums in the hopes that it will help someone help someone else. If you've had the pleasure of conversing with her in the forums, you'll know that she's a real one-of-a-kind SLP. We're so glad you're here in the group with us, Rachaele!  We asked Rachaele a few questions so that you guys can be as inspired by her as I am.

Why did you want to become an SLP?

“I lucked into finding out about speech-language pathology. I have a bachelor's degree in music (voice performance). I worked as the receptionist for a large opera company for a few years, got married, had my first child, and had no idea where I was going professionally. I have a good friend who works in special education and she encouraged me along the way. I just knew I wanted to help people.”

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

“I currently work in acute care and see a few outpatients each week. I started off applying for clinical fellowships in the medical field, but there were few opportunities in my area, so I completed my CF in the school system. I enjoyed working with the kids enough to stay for three years, but I really wanted to work with adults so I transitioned into part-time home health in a rural community. I was offered a job three years ago working in the two skilled nursing/rehab facilities in my current hospital system, and began to transition into acute care last August. One of the skilled nursing facilities is attached to the main hospital via a long tunnel. I was able to train to do modified barium swallow studies and even began a FEES program while working primarily in the nursing facilities.”

What motivates you to crush your goals?

“I lacked an in-person mentor early on when I started to work in medical speech-language pathology. I was hit hard with the salience of the divide in practice patterns as I communicated with other clinicians. I felt frustrated and alone when I started. That frustration fueled me to work hard and advocate for my patients, and thankfully I work in a setting that actually added SLP staff along the way. As part of a hospital system, I could travel to larger hospitals for training on occasion-but this usually required a four hour drive round trip. I have accepted interns and clinical fellows to make more opportunities available in our area, and that has really pushed me to keep learning.”

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

“I remember listening to the first three episodes of SYP while painting my son's bedroom one night, and I was hooked. I thought, “I don't have to practice like this anymore!” It was freeing. Kate Krival spoke openly and authentically at the GSHA convention two years ago about making evidence based and client centered decisions in dysphagia management –starting with working from an understanding that we are inherently human clinicians with imperfections and we work through them to bring our best knowledge and skills to the situation. Hearing this presentation made me feel brave again; it made me look forward to going to work.”

What is your favorite thing about the MedSLP Collective?

“My favorite thing about the MedSLP Collective is the feeling that I didn't miss out on having mentors in the medical field. I may live and work in a small town, but I have access to resources right where I am. I always feel like my questions and input are valued.”

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

“Do the thing you feel anxious about early in the day. Reaching out gets easier with practice. Call that physician, or the hospital SLP. Do what you can do to advocate for the patient. Keep moving forward. Show your data and be proud of your contribution. Patient outcomes speak for themselves sometimes. Advocating for the resources you need to do your job will help every SLP who comes after you. We're all in this together.”

Again, Congratulations Rachaele! You inspire me to keep crushing my goals and I just KNOW you are such an inspiration to us all! Keep up the great work!

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