Angela is a speech-language pathologist (SLP)/endoscopist who is also an entrepreneur. She owns a mobile unit that provides imaging for flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES). In her role, she serves health care facilities, such as longterm care, rehabilitation, nursing and physician offices, providing direct care to patients. Angela’s business, Dysphagia Imaging of North Jersey, was launched in 2018.
During her career, Angela has worked in various professional settings, such as skilled nursing, subacute rehabilitation, acute care in hospitals, private practice and as an adjunct clinical supervisor at Montclair State University (MSU).
In addition, she has been a proud member of NJSHA since earning her graduate degree from MSU in January 2009. She was awarded the Marni Reisberg Memorial Student Achievement Award in 2009, and is a three-time recipient of ASHA’s ACE Award for Continuing Education (2016, 2017 and 2019).
On the personal side, Angela is married for 37 years and has four adult daughters. When her sister had a stroke, it inspired her to earn a graduate degree in communications sciences and disorders, paving the way to becoming an SLP. Angela also enjoys hiking and traveling with her family, especially to National Parks.
What excites you most about your profession?
I have always loved being an SLP. What is more important or satisfying than helping people communicate with others? I have been fortunate to work with clients/patients from pediatric to geriatric and in a variety of settings. It is so rewarding to collaborate with patients/clients to help guide them as they work toward their goals and see their joy and pride as they make tremendous progress.
I am most excited about starting my own mobile FEES company in 2018. I saw a great need for this service throughout my many years working in hospitals, subacute rehab, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient rehab and private practice. It has been a great learning experience, and it is so rewarding to bring objective swallow studies to patients and facilities that might not otherwise have easy access.
It has also been challenging in many ways as New Jersey’s rules and regulations for performing FEES is very limiting and not in line with ASHA’s practice guidelines. I am proud to have been working on NJSHA’s Dysphagia Subcommittee for the past couple of years with a great group of clinicians who are dedicated to advocating for change, best patient care and making FEES more accessible to all patients in all settings.
We have been diligently working on a white paper. We are optimistic that it will help to facilitate the changes our patients deserve.
What is the value of NJSHA to you?
Joining NJSHA is a no brainer! It’s a great way to meet other clinicians, as we often work in remote settings. NJSHA offers many continuing education opportunities through webinars and the Annual Convention in Long Branch. The organization is the ideal place to find support and resources as we navigate this incredible, ever-changing profession. It is refreshing and exciting to meet other clinicians who share the same passion and love for serving those with speech, language and swallowing disorders. I’m also proud to say NJSHA is the ideal platform in which we can all come together to organize and advocate for change/advancements.
To me, it is important to be involved in your state professional association, as well as ASHA. Our field is certainly not stagnant; it is continually changing and growing. Clinicians must stay involved to keep abreast of new practices, new research and advancements in our field. NJSHA offers abundant means to achieve this. In addition, I think we all can identify weaknesses in the current environments in which we work. NJSHA is a great support network to help us make changes and advocate for those we serve!
How do you suggest that others get more involved in NJSHA?
There is so much you can do! Think about your interests and where they can best be put to use to make a greater impact within the profession. I implore you to go to the NJSHA website (njsha.org) and do a little research. There may already be members, groups or committees that share your passion and would love to have you involved. If not, the website is a great starting point to collaborate with others to forge the way for change and growth.
Who is your NJSHA Hero and why?
I am grateful to the many “NJSHA Heroes” who have gotten me involved. Yet one member stands above all others – Kathleen Palatucci. She has been an incredible influence/mentor to me throughout my career. I first met Kathy when I worked with her at Saint Clare’s Hospital in northern New Jersey. Kathy was the lead SLP; she was an incredible leader for our SLP team. I also had the pleasure of working with Kathy when I was an adjunct supervisor at MSU.
Kathy is an incredible force. She is kind, loving and gentle in her dealings with others. She is a fearless advocate for both SLPs and patients/clients. She is not afraid to stand up and challenge current practices to do what is right and ethical.
Kathy has a wealth of information whether it be in clinical practice, Medicare/insurance coding and billing, educational programs, etc., and she is generous in sharing her expertise and knowledge. Kathy continues to inspire me; we are lucky she is the current president of NJSHA, and I am thankful for her love of and dedication to our profession.
Tell us more about your work on the Dysphagia Subcommittee? Did you have an “Aha” moment?
I think my “NJSHA Moment” had to be when I attended the Health Care Update session a few years ago at the NJSHA Convention. This experience is what led me to participate in the Dysphagia Subcommittee. I realized that if I wanted to see changes in patient access to instrumental studies, I could no longer sit back and complain without taking action. I am eager to move forward in presenting our white paper to the NJSHA Board and state legislators, calling for change.
It’s not surprising, but I am consistently reminded that all people are unique individuals and need to be treated as such. No two cases are exactly alike despite similar diagnoses. What works for one patient may not be effective for the next and vice versa. I love working with dysphagia patients, getting to know them, figuring out what motivates them and working alongside them to help them achieve their unique goals.
I thank NJSHA for helping to make that happen.