Alumni Profile: Myia Sower ('16) MS, CCC-SLP
Myia Sower (‘16) is making a difference and providing essential speech-language pathology (SLP) services via teletherapy even during shutdowns and social distancing. Sower graduated from the Online Speech Pathology program four years ago and now owns a teletherapy company, LowKey Speech Teletherapy LLC (www.lowkeyspeech.com). She also works in five other SLP positions providing services, which offer her flexibility and unique opportunities.
Tell us about the work you are doing now.
I am currently holding down 6 positions as an SLP! I recently launched my own teletherapy company LowKey Speech Teletherapy LLC. In this position I assess and provide individualized speech and language services to anyone ages 2- 90+ who are willing to pay out of pocket for their speech services. Most of my patients are school age children who do not qualify for services through their school district because there is no academic impact. I love owning my own company. I decide who I serve based on my skills and how I provide services based on the client’s needs. I just started so, to keep the lights on, I work other positions as well.
I have two contracts to work in school systems across the country as a teletherapist. In this position I provide speech and language services to students via Zoom and Google meets. I get to provide individualized, direct services to students who would not get services due to an SLP shortage in their area. I started doing teletherapy about 2 years ago. Due to some health issues, it was becoming increasingly difficult to work a regular 9-5 job. As luck would have it, a recruiter called me one day and asked if I wanted a job as a teletherapist. I interviewed, got the job, quit my brick and mortar position and have been loving teletherapy ever since.
In addition to providing therapeutic services to school systems, I work as a contractor for a company to provide speech and language assessments to a school system in California that fell behind on assessing their students due to the COVID-19 school closures. I have always enjoyed the diagnostic side of Speech Pathology and this position gives me the opportunity to hone those skills. I have one shot at assessing and diagnosing a student then writing a report that paints a picture of their abilities and disabilities. I must be precise and clear to convince the school system that a student either needs their help via speech services or to convince a parent that their child is developing appropriately and does not require services.
Have you been working in schools since you graduated?
When I first graduated from the JMU program, I worked in a skilled nursing facility. After some time, I decided that this position was not for me, so I reduced my time to PRN (as needed) and continue to provide services to patients via that model.
Now, I work 2 PRN positions. One position is in an inpatient rehab facility and the other is in a SNF (skilled nursing facility). I interned with the inpatient facility and loved it however, all the therapists that work there love their positions, so they never quit. Since a full time, position never opened I decided to work as a PRN therapist to maintain my adult diagnostic and therapeutic skills.
Has your role changed since the start of the pandemic? How so?
Since COVID started my role as a teletherapist has changed slightly in the school system. Instead of my students logging on with a school aid, they are logging on with their parents, grandparents, or other caregiver. This works to my advantage because I am now able to not only work with the student, but also their caregiver to provide skills to help their child with speech and language skills in the home. My school positions function more like my private practice now than they did in previous years. I am enjoying the change. However, scheduling is a nightmare! It is exceedingly difficult to convince parents that, speech is not just another 30 minutes in front of a screen, it is a valuable therapeutic intervention that their child continues to require to improve their communication skills even when they are doing school from home.
How did the JMU Online Speech Pathology program help prepare you for your current position? What was the most valuable aspect of the program?
The JMU Online Speech Pathology program provided me with the knowledge to be a competitive candidate in the field of Speech-Language Pathology. I have often gotten my foot in the door just because I have a degree from James Madison. The reputation of their skilled and knowledgeable therapist precedes you everywhere you go in the state of Virginia. When you interview for a job with a JMU education on your resume, the interviewers are not concerned with whether or not you know how to provide therapeutic services, you just have to convince them that your personality fits the job.
What is your favorite part of being an SLP?
I love the diversity in the field. I have 6 incredibly unique positions that each challenge me to be a better therapist and grow in the profession. I enjoy making an impact on my patients’ lives and helping them to improve their communication and, in some cases, academic skills. SLPs help people communicate, that is so rewarding.
What advice would you give to anyone considering a career as an SLP?
If anyone is considering a career in Speech-Language Pathology, I would encourage them to reach out to an active SLP and shadow them. Find SLPs in several different settings and even explore settings that you do not think would interest you. See as much as you can, learn as much as you can. Most SLPs are very generous and love to help others just starting out.