May is Better Speech and Hearing Month. To celebrate, we’re introducing you to a few of our speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Today, meet Elyse Opila. Elyse has been a speech therapist at Magee for a little over a year and we are lucky to have her as a member of our team!
Ashley Owens (AO): Why did you decide to become a SLP?
Elyse Opila (EO): My path to becoming an SLP was a bit of a windy one! I initially completed my undergraduate degree with a double major in business and economics. From there, I worked in sales and marketing for five years. My job took me all over the place. I moved from Boston to Washington, DC to Florida. While living in Florida, I volunteered at a center for children and young adults with Cerebral Palsy. While there, I worked alongside SLPs, PTs, and OTs. It was there that I learned more about speech-language pathology and really fell in love with the profession. A light bulb went off, and I just knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. After that, I moved again, this time to New York City where I completed my graduate degree. Then I moved to Philadelphia and, eventually, was lucky enough to find Magee!
AO: What is the most exciting part about your job?
EO: Being an SLP in this setting allows me to constantly learn and discover new ways to help others reach their communication, cognitive, and/or swallowing goals, and that is truly exciting. I learn so much every day from my patients and feel lucky that I have the opportunity to help them in their recovery journey in any way I can. It’s also really exciting to work in an environment like Magee, where everyone is so passionate about learning and working together to help our patients reach their highest levels of independence.
AO: Do you have a particular experience or patient that made an impact on your life?
EO: I thought about this question for a while and have so many experiences and people that come to mind! It’s hard to pinpoint just one. I know there is nothing better than watching a patient work hard day in and out during therapy and see improvement as a result. It’s the strength and resilience I see in those I work with every day that is truly impactful and awe-inspiring.
AO: How would you describe your job to someone that doesn’t know anything about speech therapy?
EO: Sometimes it’s hard because people hear “speech,” and they think that is all it encompasses. When I talk about my job to others I let them know that, as an SLP in an acute rehabilitation setting, I wear a variety of hats. I may work with a patient to help them improve their ability to effectively communicate and express their needs. At other times, working on cognitive skills, such as memory and attention, may be the focus of therapy. I may also use my expertise to assist individuals with swallowing difficulties. No matter what hat we SLPs are wearing for that particular therapy session, what is most important to remember is that we are helping our patients find a way back after their life changing experiences.
AO: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
EO: Right now, I have to say that most of my free time is spent chasing around my 11 month old little girl, Lydia! She keeps me and my husband busy, but we love it! Spending time with family and friends, reading, biking, and jogging are some of my favorite pastimes.
To learn more about Speech Therapy at Magee, click here.