Speaker: Holly Segel
Please introduce yourself and what you do for your career.
Holly Segel: Hi, my name is Holly Segal. I'm a speech language pathologist and I've worked in a number of states and a number of settings for speech pathology. I've worked in hospitals, outpatient clinics, home health, and in the schools.
Talk about your career journey and how you got to where you are today
Holly Segel: I first became aware of speech therapy, or speech pathology, they're both the same thing, when I was in high school and participated in the National Student Teachers Association. I was helping in the classroom and the student and the teacher asked me to take a student to speech therapy. The therapist asked me to stay and I became hooked. I knew immediately that that's what I wanted to do. I obtained an undergraduate degree, a Bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. While I was there, I participated in the National Student Speech and Hearing Association and One year I served as the president of that association. I did a lot of clinical assignments. In fact, I did extra hours because I wanted experience doing every aspect of speech therapy, from voice therapy to articulation, therapy with children to therapy with adults who had aphasia from having a stroke or head injury. So I just got as many hours as I could, observing and treating patients. Then I took a break between undergraduate and graduate school because I graduated a semester early, and I worked in Northeast Indiana for a special education cooperative working with special ed kids across 13 school districts. So as you can imagine, I spent a lot of time on the road. The next fall, I enrolled in a Master's program at Case Western Reserve University and did not have a lot of extracurricular activities. I did belong to the National Student Speech and Hearing Association once again, but mostly I had a campus job and I did my school work and, again, work to get as much variety of clinical hours as I could, so that by the time I finished, I really knew where I wanted to focus my time and efforts in terms of employment. Since that time, I've worked in home health, nursing homes, hospitals, outpatient clinics and schools. And most recently, I've worked doing teletherapy, meaning speech therapy online with various agencies that provide that service.
What does your day-to-day as a person in this profession look like?
Holly Segel: The day to day really varies depending on which setting you're looking at. Generally, in speech therapy, you come in for the day. Your schedule is either set by you or a person who does the scheduling for whatever agency or facility you work for, and you plan times to see the patients for the types of problems that they're having, whether it's voice stuttering, articulation, and under voice. You can have people who have vocal nodules or who have had a laryngectomy because of cancer. You could have patients who have had a head injury and have communication problems or swallowing problems because of that. Or, you could be working with children and work with children from anything with articulation problems to children who have also experienced the head injury or patients who have had students who have had a brain tumor or cancer. So there's really a very wide range of types of patients that you can see. Speech pathology recently has involved a lot of work with people with swallowing disorders and each setting has different types of documentation and you need to comply with that too in order for the facility to be reimbursed for the services that you provide and, therefore, so that you can get paid
What's your favorite part of your job?
Holly Segel: I would say the favorite part of my job has been two things. One when you have a patient who really makes great progress and you're able to help them to communicate more effectively. Whether it's a child perfecting the way they make a sound so that people can now understand them, or children who are late speaking, who begin talking or whether it's a patient who is having trouble swallowing and now they can swallow effectively and resume normal nutrition. I just love helping people return to normal lives or establish a normal communication. I think another thing is just the problem-solving that you do where you do an assessment of the patient and you say what does this profile fit? What is really going on with this person? Are they abusing their voice? Do they have a neurological condition? Is there something else going on? And working with the team, working with the doctor, the nurses, the physical therapists, the occupational therapist, gathering information from the parents and the teachers if they're if they are a student and just trying to put the whole picture together to figure out what it is that's going on with this patient or this client and what it is you need to do to help them.
Do you have any advice for students who aspire to be in your role?
Holly Segel: I would say one of the most important things you can do is do some observation of people who work in the field of speech pathology or speech therapy, whether it's at the schools or at clinics and see what kind of things that they do. I would encourage you to take sciences because you will need to learn a lot of anatomy and physiology and also just have a good general rounded education and enjoy it. Learn study, ask questions, ask people who are in the field for advice. People are always willing to help out and just get involved in student organizations because they give you a background for a lot of the things that you need to know.