A desire to help people is what led Jina Xin to becoming a speech-language pathologist. She was interested in taking a medical path when her friend (who was working with kids with disabilities) said they were short on speech therapists.
Jina didn’t know much about speech-language pathology at the time, but she said she knew she wanted to help people.
Jina became a licensed SLP in 2014. Today she works for Signature Healthcare at Home in Federal Way, Washington, where she has been since September 2017.
“The more I do it, the more I really enjoy it,” Jina said about her career.
It takes a lot of grit
Jina’s journey to becoming an SLP took a lot of time, effort, and grit. SLPs need a master’s degree followed by a nine-month clinical fellowship, where they gain experience in the field.
And even once that’s complete, SLPs still aren’t done learning! Healthcare is constantly evolving, and SLPs must continue their education so they can care for their patients.
“There’s so much to know,” Jina said. “It’s continuing to learn every day.”
SLPs sometimes have to educate other healthcare professionals too! Jina noted that many physicians don’t fully understand everything an SLP does. Jina educates these team members on the importance of what she does and how she can help their patients.
The life of a speech-language pathologist
Jina has worked with many patients with Parkinson’s disease to improve swallowing. Sometimes her patients just want to eat their favorite foods but can’t. She loves seeing them progress to be able to eat what they want again.
“I’ve had a chance to work with people who went from a tube to being able to upgrade them so they can eat what they want to eat,” Jina said. “I’ve worked with lots of Parkinson’s patients to improve swallowing. There’s such a huge variety with an SLP working with speech, language, and swallowing disorders.”
Jina also helps people work with augmentative and alternative communication devices to help them communicate with others.
People generally use this device following a stroke or progressive neurological disease to help them share their feelings, wants, and needs with their family and caregivers. These devices help in more ways than just communication – it also lessons isolation and improves quality of life.
While Jina loves the variety, she also loves the people side of speech-language pathology.
“Helping patients meet their goals in their functional home environment is really rewarding,” she said.
More than just speech
But sometimes the patient doesn’t feel ready for speech therapy.
“Whenever I see a patient, they say they speak just fine,” Jina shared.
She explains to her patients that SLPs help far beyond speaking. They do swallowing treatments and cognitive treatments (such as memory and attention) in addition to speech and language therapy.
The life of an SLP is all about helping people with their speech, language, and swallowing disorders. But it’s also about figuring things out.
“It’s a good career for people who want to find the root cause of things, help people meet goals, and improve their quality of life,” Jina said.
Thank you to our SLPs
In honor of National Better Hearing and Speech Month, thank you to all our valued speech-language pathologists for helping our patients be able to eat their favorite foods, to share their voice, and to ultimately live their life to the fullest.