In honor of Better Hearing and Speech month, we’ll be highlighting a new SLP every week throughout the month of May. Today’s spotlight is on Monica Diak, an advanced clinician working on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors of Magee.
Tell us a little about your background.
I have been a speech pathologist for eleven years, with ten years at Magee this month! I received both my undergraduate and graduate education at the University of Florida. Go Gators!
Why did you decide to become an SLP?
I always had a fascination with both language and medicine. Growing up, I had an English professor mother and an older brother with severe autism. From an early age, I became extremely interested in helping my brother communicate, and as a result, wanted to know how the brain worked. Pursuing my love for neurology, in college I worked as an office assistant for a neurologist to gain more experience. It was there I learned how much I really enjoyed interacting with the patients and talking with them. This passion led me to discover more about medical speech language pathology and from that point I knew I wanted to provide therapy to adults in a medical setting.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Many different aspects of my career are rewarding. It’s hard to put this answer into words! The most rewarding moments I can freeze frame would have to be when a person hears his or her voice again for the first time and is able to greet a family member and make needs known. It is also very rewarding to help a person regain the ability to swallow and sharing in the person’s enjoyment of eating favorite foods again.
Tell us about an experience that solidified for you that you made the right career choice.
One special memory is when a former patient came to visit me to share her success at eating her favorite meal again the night before. She worked hard while a patient at Magee to recover her ability to eat again following a stroke that resulted in a swallowing disorder. She used a “dream dinner” to help her stay motivated when times were hard. She thanked me and I felt grateful to have contributed to her recovery and happiness. Though not one single experience can define it, I feel confident in my career choice on a daily basis. I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to meet such interesting and wonderful people, and I love the interactions and things I learn from my patients.
What are some of your passions outside of work?
I love hanging out with family and friends. I enjoy reading novels, going to the movies, writing and poetry. I love animals, walking outside and traveling to new and interesting places.