Erin Petty received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Disorders in 2015 and a Master’s Degree in Communication Disorders in 2017, both from Marshall University. Erin lived in West Virginia her entire life and worked in southern Ohio before moving to São Paulo, Brazil.
Erin said, “I was working full-time in home health and PRN in the hospital setting, but I moved to São Paulo with my husband. We plan on being here for 2 years, and I wanted to keep working. So, teletherapy!” She found a position with SLPTELE, an outpatient rehabilitation company based in California. She treats patients from their home or from one of SLPTELE clinic locations, all while staying in Brazil. Erin’s husband and his family are from Brazil, and she stated that it’s been a priceless experience to spend this time with their family in another country and still be able to work. “I feel incredibly lucky to be living in another country, during a global pandemic, and still be able to work. Plus, the food, people, and laid-back culture have been so fun to explore.” She also feels that she has gained a unique perspective of clients from culturally diverse backgrounds that may be seeking speech and language pathology services.
She said, “It’s been great, but I’m still working on my Portuguese and frequently experience communication breakdowns.”
Erin said she thinks a lot of people are hesitant about teletherapy or believe that teletherapy isn’t a good fit for a lot of clients. To that, she disagrees. “Of course, there are certain instrumental evaluations, maneuvers, or techniques that need to be administered in person, such as NMES or laryngeal stimulation. In some cases, you may benefit from supportive professionals or facilitators. But if you’re willing to get creative, I think you can actually end up with better outcomes than in-person treatment.”
Erin’s advice to any new teletherapist would be to get organized and to be creative. She says, “Throw in some added patience as you get started and you’re good to go. Also, find a place that supports your niches! And if you can’t find it, build it!”
During her time in home health, Erin worked frequently with individuals living with Parkinson’s Disease, a population for which she developed a passion. “I was looking for programs or approaches that could help me feel more prepared, and I found the SPEAK OUT! & LOUD Crowd training. I did some research and was so excited to jump into this training. Finding research that supported telepractice implementation of the program was so exciting because that meant I didn’t have to put delivering this program on hold. Our clinic didn’t previously offer these services, but I brought it to my clinic director’s attention, and she was nothing short of supportive!” Erin is hoping to establish a client base and start her own LOUD Crowd. She added, “I’m so lucky to have such a receptive team and cannot wait to build our SPEAK OUT! program.”
In addition to working with SLPTELE, Erin is starting a private practice to provide adult-based speech-language pathology services via teletherapy to patients in WV, OH, and CA. The name of the private practice is VOISS Therapy: Voice, Speech, & Swallowing Services. She stated, “I love the field of speech-language pathology and I’ve had a goal to build a clinic where I can serve patients using approaches that are personalized, evidence based, and accessible. We are currently providing teletherapy based services exclusively. After I return to the U.S., we plan to branch into in-home services and hopefully mobile instrumental evaluation of speech and swallowing.” For more information on VOISS, visit voisstherapy.com, or find them on Instragram @voisstherapy.
Erin credits Marshall for preparing her for working across each setting she’s been in by establishing an expectation for patient-centered, evidence based care. She said, “There is no way you can cover every topic for every facet of speech, language, voice, swallowing, & cognition therapy for every career setting during your college education. But if you care about your patients and you’re motivated to learn, you’re prepared for wherever your career leads. I have Marshall to thank for opening the doors to a career I’m excited to show up for every day. Good luck to all the students this year and know you’re getting the best!”