Catherine, like many NJSHA members, first learned about the many benefits of NJSHA while still an undergraduate at Kean University. She graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech, language and hearing science, followed by a master’s degree two years later. She earned highest honors at both levels.
She has nearly six years of experience working with both children and adults in the outpatient area. Catherine began and honed her professional skills in an outpatient hospital setting. She also served patients in various assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. Catherine is adjusting to her new role serving adult outpatients and inpatients at a New Jersey hospital, while also serving as a per diem therapist at a pediatric outpatient hospital. Despite being a younger speech-language pathologist (SLP), Catherine has received the ACE (Award for Continuing Education) Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) this year.
VOICES had the opportunity to speak with Catherine to learn more about why she is a member of NJSHA and what excites her about the profession.
You have tremendous pride in being a SLP. Why are you so happy to have chosen this profession?
I love to work with patients across the life span. I work with adults who have had a change in their cognitive-linguistic skills, language skills, swallowing skills and voice skills due to various medical conditions. My adult patients are cognizant of the changes in their skills. They are so thankful and truly appreciate everything I do for them. Working with the adult population and helping them return to their baseline is so rewarding. I also really enjoy working with children, addressing language and speech disorders as well as conducting feeding therapy for children with delays and/or medical conditions. With my pediatric population, it is the parents who are able to immediately recognize their children’s progress and observe the steady improvements in their child’s skills. Like the adult population, they are so appreciative of the positive changes that I have helped facilitate as a SLP and they are motivated to continue performing at the best of their ability.
What professional accomplishment are you most excited about?
That would happen to be when I became the vice chair of NJSHA’s Healthcare Committee with Barbara Schwerin Bohus. Together we work with other committee members to keep fellow SLPs up-to-date with the changes in health care related to our field. We also advocate for change in our field by working with professionals to lobby for change in regulations and government.
It was one of the key reasons I joined NJSHA. I wanted access to this mentorship, to better understand my profession and to work with people who have been leaders in the profession for decades. Everyone in NJSHA has been so eager to support and guide me. Joining NJSHA’s Healthcare Committee gave me a better understanding of the insurance industry, as well as guidelines and protocols related to my profession as an SLP. I find it all very engaging and exciting.
When I joined NJSHA, I first started as a committee member for Membership and Health Care. As a committee member I attended meetings discussing changes in health care and ways to build membership. In addition, I have worked on projects such as updating the website to make sure all information was current as well as easy to access for members. I have also created fun interactive games for members to play at the Convention. Lastly, I assisted in running the membership meet and greet events at which the members were able to meet and converse with other professionals from different parts of the state!
Who is your “NJSHA Hero” and why?
There are so many NJSHA members who have influenced me and continue to influence or guide me presently. If I had to select one person who has been the most influential in my career and profession, it would be Barbara Schwerin Bohus. She has taught me so much about leadership, about Medicare and Medicaid, about best practices in our profession and the many health care issues affecting the SLP community. She took a chance on me as a new SLP and that speaks volumes about her character and leadership. Barbara is extremely busy, yet she always finds the time to provide me with the guidance needed to grow professionally. Working with her has provided me with opportunities I could never have expected.
With the dysphagia subcommittee of NJSHA’s Healthcare Committee, we are working on a white paper to change the guidelines that limit a SLP’s ability to perform a fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) test. This instrumental bedside test is used to assess a patient’s swallowing function. New Jersey is the only state that requires a physician to be present during the procedure. We believe the law needs to be changed to allow for the procedure to be performed with only supervision from a nurse, who has a more flexible schedule to be present for the examination. I cannot wait to present this white paper. If the law is passed, it will be a great accomplishment and have real benefits for individuals with swallowing problems!
Why should other young SLPs and audiologists join the Association?
There are so many reasons! NJSHA is at the core of our profession; we work together as professionals to share ideas and information. We advocate for each other professionally and we fight to raise awareness, make improvements in all areas of our field (i.e., health care, schools, multicultural, legislative).
NJSHA is also great for networking. Everyone is so nice and pleasant to work with! If you need a mentor, want to attend events with people who have like-minded interests or just make new friends, NJSHA is the place to go. This is a very small field, especially in New Jersey. We all need to stick together, in order to have a strong, collective voice in New Jersey to advocate for our profession and our patient’s.
In the future, I would be honored to become the president of NJSHA and the incredible association of professionals it represents! It would be a remarkable accomplishment as I have always felt it is important to become the change you envision. NJSHA has and continues to advocate a lot of change for patients and our profession in New Jersey. Being able to lead and help NJSHA grow will help amplify the multitude of good that NJSHA has already accomplished.
Join me! The easiest way to get involved is to email info@NJSHA.org. You can also follow NJSHA on social media, volunteer for committees and definitely attend the Annual Convention. We are the next generation and we need to keep our profession thriving in New Jersey.
Anything else we should know about you?
Yes! Normally when I am not at work or engaging in NJSHA events you can find me in the kitchen trying out new recipes with my boyfriend. We love cooking Italian cuisine. I am also a true animal lover and can be found hanging with my wonderful pups and cats!