Kaitlyn Dietz is a speech-language pathologist who works in the Stroke Comprehensive Outpatient Rehab Program at MossRehab Jenkintown. A ten-year employee who worked in both inpatient and outpatient programs, she helps persons who have had a stroke with communication, swallowing, speech, and voice disorders.
What made you decide to become a speech-language pathologist?
When I was younger, I knew I wanted to work in a field where I could help others. My mom worked at a nursing home and collaborated closely with speech therapists. She suggested the field to me, so I shadowed a therapist one time when I was 17. I loved the job as it offers a human connection.
What is your educational background and work experience?
I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech pathology from Bloomsburg University. After graduating, I worked at a skilled nursing and long-term care community for people with physical disabilities called Inglis House in Philadelphia. I primarily engaged with people with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries. After two years, I began working asa speech-language pathologist in the inpatient stroke unit at MossRehab Elkins Park. After seven years, I transitioned to outpatient care as it is the next step to help persons who have had a stroke get back to living their life. It’s the same therapy, but the goals are a bit different. For the past three years, I’ve worked in the Stroke Comprehensive Outpatient Rehab (SCOR) program at MossRehab Jenkintown..
Why made you decide to work at MossRehab?
I had the opportunity to intern at MossRehab for eight weeks on the stroke unit and just loved it. I liked that MossRehab uses evidence-based practices and a team approach where clinicians support each other. After graduating, I waited for an opening at MossRehab and have been here for ten years.
Why do you like working at MossRehab?
MossRehab has a supportive, structured environment where therapists keep current with best practices for patient treatment. My colleagues also are a big part of why I work here. I have many strong relationships with my team members. Collaborating with like-minded people who want to help patients makes working so much more enjoyable. The MossRehab culture and working environment are not something that I would consider leaving as I move forward in my career.
Who are your patients?
I address a variety of disorders with persons who have had a stroke ranging from communication, cognitive, swallowing, speech and voice. A stroke can result in a combination of disorders depending on the location and type of injury. Very rarely do persons who have had a stroke have just one issue. For example, someone who has aphasia (a communication disorder affecting speech) might have trouble eating and swallowing while a patient with a cognitive or memory problem can have trouble with speaking clear.
What is your approach to therapy?
I really believe in taking a collaborative and functional approach to therapy. I might be the speech therapy "expert", but my patient is the expert on themselves and their needs. It's important to me to collaborate with them and work towards meeting their personal that they believe will help them in their everyday life. Our therapy activities focus on meeting those functional goals.
Can you describe a typical day providing speech-language therapy?
I typically see a mix of six to eight patients daily. On any given day, I might assess a new patient or provide an update or instructions with families so patients can continue therapy at home. It’s very busy, often with back-to-back patients. Most of my patients come from the SCOR program where individuals get physical and occupational therapy in addition to speech language therapy in a three-hour block. I collaborate with the other clinicians as part of a team within the SCOR program working on the same patient cases. We meet every Wednesday to discuss patient progress, what we might do better, how much longer does a patient need therapy, should we confer with a specific doctor, and so on. We also talk organically with each other as issues arise, but our weekly meeting is a more formal discussion.
What inspires you on the job?
I like getting to know my patients. Everyone's different and has specific goals. I love the human connection and getting to know my patients. By collaborating closely with them, I can determine their objectives and create a treatment plan that helps them get back to doing the things they want. It’s very rewarding to help people in their recovery.
What are your interests outside of work?
I love baking and decorating cakes. In my leisure, I love to go to the beach and hike with my husband and son.
Who has influenced your life?
Over the last ten years, I’ve become great friends with another MossRehab speech language pathologist, Jenny McCormack, who has become my mentor. I trust her judgment and clinical expertise and can collaborate with her on any issue or problem, even though we don’t work on the same team. Her connection with patients guides me in how I treat patients in my practice.
What was the last book that you read?
I’m reading My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor that is about a neuroscientist that had a stroke and lost her speech.
What are your favorite food(s)?
I love cheese in all forms – especially grilled cheese.
What is something people don’t know about you?
I am a trained singer. I’ve sung at many of my friend’s weddings. When I was a kid, I sang in a lot of choirs and did musical theater at the Bucks County Playhouse. My favorite musical artist is Brandi Carlile.
What is your life motto?
Sometimes things just need to work themselves out. You can’t be in control of everything, so let it be.
Check out MossRehab’s SCOR Program SCOR Program, which offers interdisciplinary treatment for Stroke Rehabilitation.
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