Byline: Ellen Conover, MA, CF-SLP
This month I had the privilege of attending the Northern Speech Services (NSS) 2013 Charleston Swallowing Conference in South Carolina. As a volunteer for the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders (NFOSD), I helped raise awareness about the Foundation and its objectives. I educated Speech-Language Pathologists about the resources they and their patients can access on our website and enrolled new members who, like many of you, will help sustain the Foundation’s initiatives. The Foundation is appreciative of the amount of support and enthusiasm from all our members.
Beyond promoting the Foundation, as a new graduate of the George Washington University Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology program, this was my first opportunity to learn directly from the experts. Prominent speakers consisted of Jeri Logemann, Jay Rosenbek, Reza Shaker, among many others, including a few who sit on the Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board. Being able to listen to these professionals who designed the tried and true methods I was taught in school, and continue to use during my fellowship year, was an honor for me.
The conference was intense, starting by 7:30 AM Friday through Sunday and ending at 6:30 PM. These days included working meals with few breaks, but despite its demanding schedule, NSS had no trouble attracting over 600 participants (see above photo taken at 8:00 AM on a weekend morning). General sessions reinforced assessment and treatment of patients with dysphagia. They also included the latest research in the field, which I have already taken back to my job and used as rationale for treatment. I also learned about additional resources I am applying directly to the assessment and care of my patients.
During breakout sessions, I heard from experienced clinicians in the field. They described challenges to which I could relate and how they were able to overcome them.
I was reminded why I chose to change careers and work with such a special population. I also thought a lot about my patients and how I could better serve them. I returned to work with ideas I could not wait to implement, a new perspective about my patients’ quality of life as it related to their dysphagia options and inspiration from those I would feel fortunate to one-day call my colleagues.