Four Things You May Not Know


A couple of weeks ago,  as I was driving around from home to home I stopped at McDonald’s because 1.  I had to use the bathroom and 2.  I really needed something to drink. Seeing my scrubs the cashier asked me if I was a nurse. I said no I’m a speech language pathologist but I’m often called the nurse and drive a nurse car. It was National Nurse’s Day and McDonald’s was giving a free coffee drink to any nurse that came in and showed their badge or some form of ID. I did get a free caramel latte.

It made me think though that we have so many days to honor and appreciate other professionals. We have a month for speech language pathology  that nobody really celebrates but us.

I would challenge everybody to go on educate on what we do as a profession.  We can start in the world of dysphagia by educating on the following:

  • I’m not the evil monster that takes away the food that you like so that you can eat modified food that you often tell me you wouldn’t serve to your worst enemy or to your pets. I’m actually modifying your diet hopefully for a short amount of time because the foods that you do like and were eating we’re not safe for you to eat or drink.  We can work on strengthening the muscles or changing the way you swallow to make it safe to eat and drink what you like again.
  • I’m not that creepy person that likes to sit and watch people eat and drink and I’m not trying to make you cough or choke through mind manipulation. If I’m sitting and watching you eat a meal I’m probably assessing your swallowing but in a non-creepy kind of way.  I actually can get a better idea of your needs when assessing you throughout a meal.  Think of me more as a date that just doesn’t eat with you.
  • I probably don’t need to see what you coughed up or what came out the other end. While I feel like I’m very knowledgeable I am not a medical doctor and cannot diagnose non-speech language or swallowing issues.  I realize that these are very important issues to you, however that is out of my realm of practice.  I often jokingly tell patients that I only work with what’s going in and not coming out. We have a good laugh about it but really, no, I don’t deal with what’s coming out.
  • I know these exercises seem silly but let me tell you what they’re about.  When you had your modified barium swallow study or FEES it was determined that x, y, z muscles need to be strengthened.  When we do this exercise, this is the muscle(s) we are working which will then help you to _______________.  I will  not give you 800 pages of exercises that target muscles that we do not need to target if you will do these specific exercises.

Stop using treatments that have no evidence and have no research to support them.  It is our job as a professional to use the techniques that offer evidence and we need to use best practice methods for our patients.  Otherwise we may be wasting their time and ours.  This includes fighting for instrumental assessments for patients when indicated.

We are Speech Language Pathologists not therapists. Being a pathologist gives us the opportunity to both assess and treat along with diagnose.  Let’s keep the skill in therapy and assessment.

2 thoughts on “Four Things You May Not Know

  1. Hi You said: “We are Speech Language Pathologists not therapists. Being a pathologist gives us the opportunity to both assess and treat along with diagnose. Let’s keep the skill in therapy and assessment”
    Well, Im a speech and language THERAPIST – i can assess, diagnose and treat. Why do you make that distinction? Genuinely interested.

    1. It has been drilled into my head repeatedly that we are pathologists and not therapists because we do have the distinct ability to diagnose. I realize that some areas of the world are therapists and not pathologists! That makes that statement tricky. I honestly don’t mean offense nor am I saying that if you do go by therapist you’re not skilled! I often find myself correcting my verbage with patients!

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