Mary Treuer, a passionate and energetic speech-language pathologist (SLP), is not one to stand idle when patient needs are not being met. Mary joined the Health Care Committee and soon initiated a dysphagia subcommittee to address the needs of patients with dysphagia. The objective was to inform colleagues in New Jersey about what New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NJSHA) members can do to meet the needs of the adult population in skilled nursing facilities.
Mary, an experienced bilingual Spanish-speaking SLP, has demonstrated a history of working in inpatient, home health and educational settings. Her Master of Arts degree focused in communication sciences and disorders, speech-language pathology from Montclair State University. Mary’s undergraduate degree is in advertising communication and Spanish from Marist College. She also studied Spanish and humanities at the University of Sevilla, fully immersing herself in the language and culture further enriching her experience and preparing her to be a bilingual SLP.
After earning her graduate degree at Montclair State University in 2016, Mary has had the opportunity to work in education and health care settings. Mary says she spends her days working with young children in the Orange School District serving students from kindergarten through eighth grade. She additionally provides services to nonagenarians through per diem work at both the Atlantic Health System and RWJ/Barnabas.
“You can say I work with clients from age five to age 105,” Mary said, with a laugh. “So, this career is really a great opportunity to incorporate my skills across a wide breadth of people’s skills and challenges.”
VOICES sat down with Mary, of Denville, to learn more about her career and why she cherishes her membership in NJSHA.
What excites you about the SLP profession?
“There are so many types of positive experiences throughout my day, as well as opportunities to have my work recognized through NJSHA. I’m 30 years old, with five years of experience. I already have so much to be proud of. I have had the opportunity to help people speak again after they suffered a stroke or significant brain damage. I have helped people regain the ability to swallow and I have had the chance to collaborate closely with families at the hospital. In addition, I have worked closely with parents and their children to overcome speech issues so that they can become better learners in school.”
Why do you find NJSHA so valuable for your career advancement?
“I first became involved in NJSHA about a year into the field because I wanted to be part of an organization that advocates every day for what I do for a living. I wanted to be part of a team that advocates to state legislators on behalf of our industry and that informs me of what is happening at the state and national level. I also wanted to be part of the state Convention and be part of a true community as I fulfill my professional requirements, while developing lifelong camaraderie.
There is so much value in joining NJSHA, and having access to leaders in the field who are eager to help. I love the opportunity to continue learning about the field, as well as receiving updates about regulations and how it all directly affects the administration of health care. NJSHA provides tailored, relevant continuing education that I find invaluable for the work that I do every day. There is no reason for an SLP to not get involved; membership dues are very reasonable and the opportunities are endless to succeed.”
Who is your “NJSHA Hero” and why?
“There is no question that my NJSHA Hero is Barbara Schwerin Bohus, MS, CCC-SLP, a veteran, hospital-based SLP. Barbara spent her time educating me about the many values and benefits of NJSHA membership. She pulled me along to become an advocate for our industry. I look up to her as the type of SLP I hope to one day be. She seems to have all the answers, and she was the one who made sure I attended the state Convention. I even had the opportunity to speak before my colleagues at the 2019 NJSHA Convention. As a new person in this association, with a new career, I was already a peer presenter! I really want to thank Barbara for her continued guidance and friendship, which has meant all the world to me as I learned the many benefits of NJSHA membership.”
What is your next challenge?
“People are always asking me that well-known question: `Where do you see yourself in five years?’ My goal, eventually, is to open my own private practice. My husband is a mental health therapist so maybe, together, we can offer teletherapy services at home and in-person. And maybe we bring along a physical therapist and an occupational therapist for a full array of services. Whatever happens, I will definitely rely on guidance from my friends and colleagues in NJSHA, who are eager for me to succeed in whatever part of the industry I choose to work.”
What is something surprising or unexpected you have learned through your position?
“There is a lot of poverty where I work. Some people don’t have access to nutritious food on a regular basis. What is the most surprising in Essex County, where I work, is the enormous disparity. There are a lot of very wealthy areas and a lot of very poor ones. These are different worlds that often do not meet. As an SLP, and a proud member of NJSHA, I am proud to serve all residents, no matter their income, and do what I can to ensure everyone has access to quality speech-language services. As a bilingual professional, I believe I offer a very important service to diverse populations that are not always represented, doing my best to make sure that their voices are heard too.
I am flattered to be part of this profession and part of this organization. I so much look forward to growing over the years with my colleagues. There are such tremendous mentors in NJSHA. I am so fortunate to be involved!”