"I received an amazing education and would not trade my two years here for any other Master’s program."

MS in Medical Speech-Language Pathology
Department of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery. University of Washington Medical Center

Can you tell us a bit about your educational and professional background?

I completed my undergraduate studies at Washington State University. While I was there I became interested in the field of speech language pathology and participated in as many hands-on clinical opportunities as possible. During my four years at WSU I regularly volunteered for programs aimed at helping children with disabilities in addition to working as a student clinician at an intensive four-week stuttering workshop.

I also took a year off after graduating before applying to a master’s program, to pursue an opportunity to work as a speech pathology assistant at an international school in Shanghai, China. All of these experiences shaped me as a speech language pathologist, but it was not until my clinical placements at the UW that I found my true interests within the field.

Why did you choose the University of Washington?

My family is from Seattle and I knew that I would get an amazing education at the University of Washington, with highly regarded clinical and research opportunities. The UW has a strong alumni network and offers so many connections. It was the perfect fit.

Why did you decide to take a speech-language pathology program with a medical focus rather than a general SLP program?

I was really attracted to the fact that the UW had a medical program where I could strictly focus on speech and language pathology common to the hospital setting. All of my placements were medically based and I got the opportunity to work in several different hospitals (both inpatient and outpatient) in the greater Seattle area. I also knew that the MedSLP program would provide me with detailed knowledge and courses relevant to my areas of interest rather than a basic introduction.

How did the clinical rotations in the program help you advance your career or shape your goals?

Over the course of two years, I was placed in a variety of different medical settings and received experience working with a wide range of patient populations. This helped me learn which settings interested me most. The MedSLP faculty members were also extremely helpful and offered several extracurricular clinical experiences.
I thank Dr. Tanya Eadie for helping me find my niche in voice pathology after she took a group of us students to the International Association of Laryngectomees (IAL) conference. There was something about working with voice, swallowing, and head and neck cancer patients that I became passionate about. After the IAL I knew that this was an area I wanted to pursue further.

My first outside clinic rotation was in the Otolaryngology clinic at the University of Washington -- I could not be more thankful for this placement. Not only was it in my ideal setting, but I also got the opportunity to meet a lot of amazing clinicians and physicians who served as mentors to me. This placement shaped my career goals and led me to pursue my clinical fellowship in the laryngology setting at the UW Voice and Swallow Clinics.

Does your evidence-based practice training help you determine the types of treatments and procedures you practice today? How have you applied EBP to your current position?

I am really thankful to have gone through a program that was EBP focused. The UW truly taught me the value of being knowledgeable about which treatments are available but also which treatments have been supported by the literature.

Being able to translate EBP into clinical practice is a skill that I use every day. Patients are so much more responsive when you are able to explain why you are implementing a specific treatment type, and how that treatment has been supported.

Can you tell us about the professors and supervisors you worked with during your clinical rotations?

Everyone was always so helpful. No matter who you sent an email to, the faculty would always respond right away and bend over backwards to make sure all your questions were answered.

I was really impressed when it came time to apply for my clinical fellowship. Several different faculty members were more than willing to take time out of their busy schedules to meet with me and to go over my resume. The faculty even set up mock interviews with relevant clinical questions to help me prepare.

What is your overall evaluation of the MedSLP program?

I received an amazing education and would not trade my two years here for any other Master’s program. The MedSLP classes and clinics not only prepared me for my fellowship but also provided me with close friends and connections that I know I will continue to stay in touch with.