This week is Sam Pence who is a speech therapist & last July I was working with her while I was at the rehab hospital Mid America near Kansas City, Kansas. From breakfast club what you go through when you have dysphagia (trouble swallowing) to normal sessions to trying not to swan dive at 6’2”. Enjoy!

1. What is the best advice you can give to someone starting out?

I have 2 pieces that I think are important:

1. Trust yourself.

If something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. Just because more experienced people are doing something doesn’t mean it is right. Don’t compromise yourself for a job, experience, relationship.

2. You can fix most things. We always worry about taking chances in life, but taking chances is how we grow. A lot of those mistakes work out to be better than we planned.

2. What things inspire your process?

Coffee and taking a step back. I’m a speech pathologist so I like to drink coffee with my patients during our sessions (if they can eat/drink). When I’m working on speech, language, or cognition I want them to feel that sense of normalcy, like you’re having coffee with a friend.

It can be overwhelming when you read someone’s medical history, or are meeting a person for the first time who needs help. I take a step back and think about what a patient or any person needs to have a happy life. What do they need to go home? What are their goals? What is important to them? Once I can answer those questions I can usually make a plan.

3. Who are three people you look up to or inspire you?

My dad is one of my biggest inspirations. He has phrases that just keep me going like, “You can cry in your beer tonight, but tomorrow you get up and do it again.” I’ve watched him day after day, year after year continue to get up and he continues to have his same good nature, funny, and ethical outlook in life. A lot of people let life get them down and change them in a negative way. Another of this sayings that drives me is, “I might not be able to change the world, but I can definitely fix my corner of it.” I always think if we all just fix our corner of the world, we’d be a whole lot better off.

My second inspiration is a rather large group but I am inspired by my patients and their families. I’ve seen people in the worst moments of their life and I’ve watched them work hard to improve their situation. I’ve also seen people not work hard and not improve their situation. Both types of people inspire me. Do I want to roll over when life is unfair and doesn’t go my way or do I want to get up and make myself, my family, and my world better? In my career I have treated hundreds of people, I have learned something from each and every one of them, and each one of them have molded my life in some way.