My journey toward Speech Pathology was not linear, nor did I ever want to “grow up to be a Speech Therapist”. I found myself after college, having earned a BA in History from Oregon State, wondering what I should do with myself. I was interested in academia, and decided to pursue graduate school. Not wanting to leave the state, I randomly looked up graduate programs at Portland State. My initial interest was in Urban Planning. I applied, and was rejected; having no experience in the field. Going back to the PSU class catalog, I came upon Speech and Hearing Sciences. I did some research and felt something click. The program was a little bit of health, education, science, all things interesting to me. With more reflection I discovered that I had personal experience with Speech Pathology. I had a grandmother who had suffered from several debilitating TIA’s, a cousin with severe bilateral cleft lip and palate, and my own referral to the school SLP at age 9 due to an articulation problem from wearing a heinous palate expander for 6 months.
I applied to the Post-Bac program at PSU in the SPHR department. Getting my requirements in place, I applied to the graduate program and was wait-listed. Fortunately I got in 3 weeks prior to the term starting. I initially was interested in working with children. However after completing the Dysphagia course, and encouraging feedback from the faculty, I realized my skills were more honed to the adult population. I was fortunate to complete my graduate school when very few new grads were interested in the SNF setting.
My initial interview was a tour of Village Healthcare and Gresham Rehab and then the question, “So, what do you think?” Viola! I had a fantastic job before many of my classmates had interviews. And the rest is history. Since I graduated and joined Infinity in 2006, I have been the SLP for Gresham Rehab, Menlo Park, Fairlawn, Discovery, and Rose Villa before being able to settle at Village Healthcare (my ‘home’ building since 2006).
My interests have evolved over the years. I’m really into Medicare guidelines and documentation requirements, assisting in Medicare audits. I’m active in the ASHA community and with the board of the Oregon Speech Hearing Association. I really enjoy what I do, and am an advocate for graduate students to explore externships in SNF’s. I firmly believe it’s the best setting in which to work!
Melissa Fryer, CCC-SLP, RAC-CT
Clinical Specialist – RAC Consultant