In honor of Better Speech and Hearing month, we wanted to introduce you to a few of our speech-language pathologists (SLP)! Today, meet Ashley Owens.
Why did you decide to become a SLP?
Ever since I was a little kid, my mom would say, “You have a big heart. You’re going to help a lot of people someday.” As I got older and started exploring job opportunities, I knew I definitely wanted a job that incorporated my love of helping others, teaching, and working on a team. I also wanted a job that kept me busy and constantly learning something new. I initially thought I would become a teacher or a nurse but heard about the field of speech-language pathology and fell in love! I’m a “neuro nerd” and love getting to work with and learn from individuals affected by a variety of diagnoses.
What is the most exciting part about your job?
While there are many exciting and interesting aspects of my job, I would say the most exciting and rewarding part of my job is getting to build relationships with patients and their families. Our patients work so hard in rehab and it is truly amazing to be able to see them achieve a goal they’ve worked towards during their stay. I love getting to be a support system, teacher, and cheerleader for them along their journey. I also love getting to listen to their stories and learn about their history-everyone has something interesting to share!
Do you have a particular experience or patient that made an impact on your life?
I will never forget a patient of mine that came to Magee last April after sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Her name is Morgan and she was a patient at Magee for almost 4 months. Throughout her journey at Magee, I watched her improve in many areas physically, emotionally, and cognitively. Although being in the hospital for such a long time was challenging, Morgan taught me (and many others) the true meaning of hard work and perseverance. I will never forget her and her family. Check out her story here!
How would you describe your job to someone that doesn’t know anything about Speech Therapy?
When I meet somebody new and I tell them I’m a speech-language pathologist (SLP), many times the first thing out of their mouth is, “Oh-you help cute little kids with their sounds right?”. Many people don’t know about the variety of different settings that SLP’s can work in, including schools, hospitals, and private practices! As an SLP working in an acute rehab setting, I evaluate and treat people with a variety of medical diagnoses including stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and spinal cord injury (SCI). During their stay at Magee, it is my job to help them improve their eating/drinking, communication, speech, and thinking skills. It is also our role to provide constant education, support, and counseling to patients, caregivers, and staff to help them better understand their condition following a life changing event. I love my job and couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else!