Speaking with a Speech Language Pathologist

“Those moments when there is progress and I have changed my clients lives for the better carry me through the difficult times,” says Christie Moran, MS, CCC/SLP-L in this interview about what she has loved, and learned, about being an SLP.

Christie Moran, MS, CCC/SLP-L has been a practicing Speech Language Pathologist for 14 years, serving in many different settings and across varying populations. In this interview, she lets us in on her experiences in speech therapy, as well as what she’s learned, and loved, over the course of her career.

Why did you choose to become an SLP? What drew you to this line of work? Is your experience as an SLP what you expected it would be?

I knew I wanted to work in healthcare. I enjoyed interacting with both kids and older adults through my volunteering opportunities. I loved learning about language development and how the brain processes language has always been fascinating to me.

I have never regretted my career choice, but my experience has not been what I expected. I always saw myself working in a hospital; however, both professional and personal choices have moved me further from that choice and I find myself working more and more in schools. This profession has given me the opportunity to work in different settings and with different populations, not all careers would have that choice. I am able to personalize my career to my needs, both personal and professional, and I am extremely thankful for that.

What sort of setting do you work in?

I have experience in schools, early childhood, home health, early intervention, private clinics, skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, outpatient adult clinics, and as a hippotherapist (using horses as a therapy modality) and using pet assisted therapy and natural settings. Last year, I worked with a school district as a case manager and therapist for 20 students aged pre-school through 2nd grade, one day a week, and a therapist for a unique communication and behavior program for students aged pre-school through 1st grade, 4 days a week.

As you know, SLPs see clients ranging from young children to the elderly, which population do you serve and why did you choose that area?

I maintain certifications and continuing education with both pediatric and elderly populations. Being a speech-language pathologist can be very intense and challenging. Unfortunately, burnout is common in our profession and one way I avoid burnout is by working with a variety of clients and diagnosis in different settings. Recently, I have been working with students diagnosed with autism and other genetic disorders and motor speech disorders to help them develop functional and social language skills, including developing augmentative and alternative communication systems to help them communicate.

What are the most rewarding parts of being an SLP? The most challenging?

I love helping my clients and their families communicate and become functional communicators. I love working with families and collaborating with families and other professionals. I am a lifelong learner and enjoy learning different ways to help my clients communicate, improve their swallowing, feeding and oral motor speech skills. I enjoy being challenged to keep it relevant to my individual clients, so that they are engaged and are able to carryover the skills I teach them. Those moments when there is progress and I have changed my clients lives for the better carry me through the difficult times. Whether it is celebrating with an elderly man and his wife when he is able to safely swallow his favorite meal again to when a 4-year-old child is able to request his favorite toy using picture choices and eye contact.

I would say the most challenging part of my job is the paperwork and keeping up with the ever-changing laws and regulations that need to be followed.

Is there any advice, or tricks of the trade, you’d like to impart to your fellow SLPs, or those looking to get into the profession? In your opinion, what personal or professional qualities make someone a good SLP?

A good SLP must have passion and patience. A desire for lifelong learning. An ability to communicate and collaborate with families and other professionals. Professional qualities should include the ability to set priorities and manage time well, a quality I am still learning. There are many types of SLPs out there, and many different settings and opportunities, I would tell those in the profession already and those entering it to remember to stay flexible, explore your options and different settings through networking, contract work and mentoring opportunities, and remember, everything changes, all the time, so enjoy the good times and prepare for the challenging ones.

Interested in sharing some insight about your specialty and experience with your fellow therapy professionals? Email us to set up an interview.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.