Tag Archives: Health

Friday Feature: Sensemillah Peters- Lewis M.S. CCC-SLP

Hey guys! I’m back with another feature. This series started out as being monthly but, I have reached out to individuals I greatly admired to be featured and the response has been amazing. I decided to turn my monthly feature into a weekly feature which I’m calling Friday Feature. Every Friday, I’ll be featuring individuals I admire and who are doing great work in their community.

Today’s feature is someone from my beautiful island of Antigua, someone I went to high school with. It is always a pleasure to feature someone from my Island. I love to see my peers working and achieving their goals. Now, Let’s meet today’s feature; Sensemillah Peters- Lewis

Sensemillah Peters-Lewis

Tell us a little bit about yourself

Currently I wear many hats. I am a mother first, Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), entrepreneur and Clinical Doctorate student. As an SLP I am responsible for diagnosing and treating various speech, language, communication and swallowing disorders in a variety of settings. I crave knowledge and you can find me looking for my next educational adventure, for the advancement of my skills. When I am not developing life altering plans in the middle of the night, you can find me listening to music, and most recently exploring the great outdoors. 

What is your current title and employer/school?

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist and the proud owner of start-up speech therapy company, SpeakEZ Theracare. I work fulltime for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (PK-5) in Charlotte, NC. I also work part-time for a Home Health Therapy company serving the 0-3 population, and a teletherapy company serving the school-aged population. 

What got you interested in your professional field?  How has your upbringing influenced your career aspirations?

My career path was hand-picked for me by my sister. Throughout high school it was my dream to become a pediatrician but after 3rd form and a lack of understanding in chemistry those dreams were shattered. My parents were adamant about my getting a college education because they didn’t have one, and to them it didn’t matter what it was. My sister, 15 years my senior, devised the plan and the rest was history. I was a successful college student with the ability to complete any coursework set before me, and I must finish anything I start. 

Were you knowledgeable of the Speech Pathology field before college (or post-high school)?

I did not understand the field of Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology prior to college. It was through my coursework, observations and clinical practicums where I began to scrape the surface. It wasn’t until I obtained a job as a paraprofessional working with children with disabilities, that I truly understood the role of an SLP. My next job as an SLPA provided more insight and knowledge. Being able to make such an impact in the lives of my clients and their families created the desire to be better, thus leading to my quest for always gaining more knowledge. 

What does a typical work day look like for someone in your position (or who has your responsibilities)?

My day begins with planning and preparation for the day’s scheduled therapy sessions. Therapy sessions are 30 minutes in length and are either individual or group, in a pull-out or push-in method. There are designated days for staff meetings and EC (exceptional children) meetings where we discuss “at risk” students, initial evaluations and re-evaluations. Some student might have their annual IEP (Individualized Education Plan) review meeting scheduled, which can take 45mins – 1 hour. 

After my workday, I drive to either a daycare center or client’s home to provide routine based interventions using the coaching model with parents and caregivers. If it’s a day for teletherapy clients, I provide that service from the comfort of my home office. 

Do you typically work individually or in a group?  Which do you prefer?

As an SLP I work as a part of a multidisciplinary team, working alongside teachers, psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and ABA therapists to treat “the whole child”. However, I do provide services alone majority of the time. In early intervention, there are more opportunities to co-treat with other professionals. 

How does one become a certified speech pathologist? 

To become a certified SLP in the United States you must complete an undergraduate degree. If you have a Bachelors in a related field you must complete the prerequisites when applying to a Masters program. Some states allow you to work as an SLPA with an undergraduate degree under the direct supervision of a licensed SLP. It is a Graduate requirement to complete 350 clock hours of practicum experience across settings and disorders before you can apply for a conditional state license along with your clinical fellow (CF) from ASHA. During your CFY you must complete 9 months working fulltime demonstrating independence and competence for your supervisor to sign off on your documentation, making you eligible to receive your Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC-SLP). 

In what ways does your work contribute to the Healthcare and public health field?

Over the years we have moved from solely diagnosing and treating communication and swallowing disorders to providing education for early detection and prevention. We have been providing more education on causal factors and awareness regarding speech, language and swallowing. For example, we train staff in the nursing home to identify patients who are at risk for dysphagia, as well as provide education on proper oral hygiene to reduce the onset of oral dysphagia.

How do you think your schooling/training prepared you for your current position?

Without my academic foundation I would not be prepared for this job. I am grateful that there are many training opportunities available for all the disorders and should I choose to specialize, there are special interests’ groups that I can subscribe to. To maintain certification, I must complete 10 hours of continuing education courses each year, which allows me to remain abreast with new evidence-based practices within the field. As things change rapidly, I am able to keep up. 

How has professional networking and social capital affected your career aspirations/trajectory?

This field is filled with persons who understand that we are one community and many offer guidance to help you navigate through education, employment, training and starting your own private practice. We understand that we will never keep up with the demand, so there is no need for competition like some other fields. 

Were there challenges you faced to get where you are currently?

The only real challenge is working in a field with only 8% black people. I’m used to being the only POC in a room and at times it is difficult because no one else can relate to you. 

What has been a rewarding experience during your academic or professional journey?

The most rewarding experience for me thus far has been advocating for my client. I was the only member of the team that disagreed with the documented cognitive ability of my client, who was diagnosed with a progressive degenerative neurological disorder. I fought to get a trial with an eye-gaze speech generating device that allowed her to communicate with her family because she was not able to speak.

What are some skills or experiences that undergraduates interested in speech pathology should have going into your line of work?

Anyone interested in becoming an SLP should be compassionate, organized, detail oriented, critical thinker, and a team player. You must be able to relate to your colleagues and your clients/families. 

What job, grad school, or fellowship search tips do you have for undergraduates?

When applying for graduate school, understand that there is no difference in obtaining your degree from an Ivy league school or a “regular” university. It is the same degree and your skills and experiences will ultimately land you the job post-graduation. Ensure that your application packet is strong – good GPA, GRE scores (not needed by all schools) and a well written statement of the person. 

During your fellowship year it is important to choose a setting and a mentor who has the time to teach you, as this is the last time you will have some training and support before becoming a completely independent clinician. 

During your job search, ensure that you know what the going rate for your geographical area and setting are. We don’t normally get raises outside of the school district so discuss a rate change from CF to CCC. Employers tend to low ball new CFs and coming from grad school you may think $30/hr is great and it is not (speaking from my geographical location). 

What interviewing tips do you have for undergraduates?

Typically, undergraduates do not interview for employment, this comes upon completion of grad school. As a CF prepare yourself by learning something about the company, it shows that you are invested.  Ask your interviewer questions, even if you think your question is minor or unimportant. Discuss salary ranges, DO NOT go into that interview without an idea of your worth. Ask about paid training opportunities, incentives like ASHA and license reimbursement, and opportunities for advancement within the company. 

What advice do you have for undergraduates during their first month of working with a new employer?

As a CF, know that you are now in the real world, you are no longer a student. It will take some time to get acclimated to your setting, so do not rush through anything, take your time and learn the procedures of your building. If you are uncertain about anything, reach out to your supervisor or other SLPs. 

What is something you wish you knew while in college (or post-high school)?

I wish they spoke more candidly about the departmental politics, lack of advocacy, and insane productivity standards that are set by many companies. In many positions we are only as valuable as our billable hours, and the bottom line is all that matters. 

How important is work-life balance to you?

Self-care is extremely important in this field. We never stop thinking about our clients, and quite often take home work with us. Paperwork is endless and the least favorite part of our jobs. If you don’t follow a strict rule you will experience burnout rather quickly. 

What is something related to speech pathology that you would like to see improve upon over the next decade?

I would like to see more education and awareness to the public, for persons to truly understand our wide scope of practice.  I would also like to see more advocacy from our governing bodies to provide the much-needed support to clinicians. We advocate for our clients and families but there is no one to listen to our concerns and fight for us. 

A restaurant has named a dish after you; what is it and why?

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo – because I am sweet, sassy, spicy and filled with many different flavors. This translates to me being a trailblazer, smart, down-to-earth, professional, serious – able to adapt to any environment/situation. I possess numerous qualities that are usually found in different people. 

That’s all for now people! Be sure to check out Sensemillah on her Facebook page Sense Antiguan SLP She is also now accepting new clients at her virtual private practice SpeakEZ Theracare.

How To Remain Safe During This Pandemic As States Reopen

Hey Guys! I know it’s been a while since my last blog post, I think my last blog post was the day of birthday back in May but I’m back and will do my best to post more consistently, I’m trying to grow as well as put more effort into my blog. As you know, I recently graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Public Health, and it is my goal to bring more awareness about Public Health to the blog. I think it is time, for this is part of who I am and given the current climate of the world right now it is only right.

Now let’s get into this post…

As we all know by now, we are currently living through a pandemic. Never in my lifetime did I expect to witness this, let alone have family members who are and were affected by this virus, but here we are. I had this post in my draft for weeks but contemplated whether I should post it, but after what I’ve seen in the news and on social media recently, I felt this post was necessary.

Just in case any of you forgot what COVID19 is here is a brief overview:

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. (WHO, 2020).

HOW IS CORONAVIRUS TRANSMITTED?

The virus is spread from person to person via respiratory droplets. This occurs when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. You can get infected if you touch a surface or an object that has the virus on it, and then you touch your face, mouth, nose, and eyes—a person or object without sanitizing or washing his or her hands after contamination. You can get infected by not maintaining your six-foot distance from an individual with the virus.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS?

These are some common symptoms of Coronavirus. In addition to these symptoms, it is important to know that some individuals can be asymptomatic, so keep this in mind. The most common symptoms are Runny nose, coughing, sore throat, fever, cold or Flu-Like Symptoms. Shortness of breath or Difficulty Breathing, chest pain or pressures, loss of speech, or movement are some of the more severe symptoms. 

At this point, we know that this Pandemic has put a hold on businesses and the economy as a whole. Everyone is mostly fighting for survival. However, here in the United States, some states reopened earlier than some. When this first happened, I was baffled as to why it was happening. I live in Georgia, and we were one of the few states that reopened early. Now the reason why I was confused and also worried about my state opening so soon is that we have NOT reached our peak believe it or not. As of June 25th, 2020, it is said that the projected peak for this virus in the state of Georgia is going to be in December. Other states have not seen their peak either. Some peak dates are set to happen in the fall, which is projected to spread more because the states are REOPENING. I get that money needs to be made, but at what point is the health of the population important?

As the different countries across the globe begin to open up, here’s what you can and should do to remain safe during this Pandemic.

WEAR A MASK- I’ve seen many posts on social media of people complaining about wearing a mask because it is uncomfortable, or because it causes carbon monoxide poisoning (this is not true). I’ve seen so many inaccurate reasons, but I will save that for another post. Wearing a mask protects YOU; it protects your loved ones and just your community as a whole. Let’s complain less about wearing a mask and do what is right. Let’s normalize wearing a mask.

WASH YOUR HANDS- I saw a tweet the other day that said something to the effect of “they keep telling us to wash our hands if that’s the case why is the virus still here” Now as we’ve known since we were children growing up, we were taught to wash our hands to prevent the spread of germs. It is no different from this virus. To prevent the spread of the virus or even contracting the virus, we need to be washing our hands with soap and water for 20 seconds frequently; now is the time to bring out your inner germaphobe. 

KEEP PRACTICING SOCIAL DISTANCING– Limit as much in-person contact as you possibly can. I know many of you are dying to hang out with your friends and families or are eager to go to brunch (because weekends are for brunch) or dine out at a restaurant, but keep in the back of your mind the unknown is out there. We don’t know the specifics of the virus, and some people could be carriers of the virus and not know. TAP AH YAH YARD in translation, please stay home. If you choose to be around others, at least be sure that you are maintaining the six-feet distance.

KEEP DISINFECTING- I had to put this one in, I feel like finding disinfectant wipes or sprays is a thing of the past because they are rarely ever stocked on the shelves in the supermarkets these days, but you can get alcohol and make your own. We still need to be vigilant. 

STAY HOME- Yes, I know I mentioned social distancing, but there is a slight difference. When you’re out at the grocery store, it is essential to maintain that six feet distance from yourself and another person. However, staying home as much as possible means you avoid much close contact with anyone. I’ve always been a homebody, so having to stay home more does not bother me at all; in fact, it makes me even happier, but I do know everyone is not like me or may not be as fortunate as myself to have somewhere to live where there are comfortable. If you’re unable to stay home as much for whatever reason, be sure to protect yourself by wearing a mask or finding something to shield your face.

GET TESTED- I am an essential worker so I’m required to get tested, if you are an essential worker you MUST get tested and even if you’re not an essential worker and you think you may have come in contact with someone who has the virus GET TESTED. There are some state department of health that are offering free testing, and I know CVS pharmacy is also doing free testing. Look it up and see if your state is participating in free testing and get it done!

BE KIND- As a bonus, a little kindness goes a long way. We are all living through a pandemic, and it is very challenging for all of us, and maybe some more than others, so let’s just be kind to one another.

I encourage you to remain safe, do your research about how the virus is affecting your community weekly, at least. Being knowledgeable during this time is vital. The Pandemic is NOT over! The peak has not occurred in most places! Here in the U.S., there’s been two major holidays, and in other countries, there will be upcoming holidays, which means there will be a spike in cases. If you want the year 2021 to be much better than 2020, please follow what I listed above and LISTEN to public health officials because they are the expert. Prevention is better than cure( in this case there’s no cure).

Be safe, my people!

What have you been doing to stay safe during this Pandemic?

References: Coronavirus. https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

My Current Skin Care Routine

How many of you are practicing what you preach and are really taking the time to take care of yourself? Instead of chiming in with everyone and who says “Self-care Sunday” just because it seems cool or everyone is doing it?

As I get older, I am working on taking much better care of myself, physically and mentally. I’m so used to taking care of everyone else that I end up putting myself  last. I woke up one day and decided that I was going to stop putting myself on the back burner. Yes, I believe you can wake up one day and change your outlook on things. If you don’t like something…change it.

 

So, I decided to dedicate more time to being selfish which meant taking the time putting the extra effort into my self care and my skincare. Although I have a super hectic schedule and most times I just want to get up and go, I take 10 mins to prep my skin for the long day or night ahead. You know that saying “Black don’t crack?” Well, I have some disappointing news because black actually does crack; I’ve seen it. I have decided to make skincare a habit even if it means waking up extra early in the mornings  because it’s important that I make sure that I won’t crack later in life, lol.

I am normally a product junkie and I have used many products but over the last few months, I’ve been using the ANEW brand  from Avon….yes, people still use Avon products. (AATSL insider:In an upcoming post I will be blogging about Avon because people have been sleeping on this company lately). Below I will be listing the products that I have been using and in my opinion I have seen a BIG difference in my skin. I am in love with these products; they are everything.

Step by Step Daily Skincare Routine:

Because of my crazy work and school schedule, I try my best to keep my morning and evening skincare routine pretty simple: Cleanse, Tone, Mask/Scrub, Serum and Eye Cream and finally Moisturize. I also use some of the products interchangeably depending on how my skin feels or how I feel lol.

Step One- I use the Anew clean comforting cream cleanser and mask which helps to remove dirt, oil and other impurities. I sometimes interchange and use the Anew Ultimate Cream Cleanser and this leaves my face feeling smooth and silky.

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Step Two- After I cleanse my skin, I use the Anew Revitalizing Toner which removes what my cleansers would leave behind to ensure that all the dirt is removed from my face.

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Step Three- Serum and Eye Cream, now I would use either the power serum or the vitamin C brightening serum and then I apply the eye cream, this comes in clutch because with the long days I have it helps to keep me youthful and not look extra tired, and it also brightens up my under eyes leaving me dark circle free.  

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Step 4/ Final Step– Moisturize! This is a vital part of my skincare routine and should be something you make a habit. I absolutely love the Anew Ultimate multi-performance Day cream SPF 25   moisturizer because it does not leave my face looking oily. I will say, a little goes a long way when applying this moisturizer. I apply this daily which keeps my skin moisturized and gives my skin that glow it needs to start the day. I also use the night cream moisturizer for night  which helps to revive my skin and keeps me looking young.

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Now I know some of you may think that four steps is a lot but it really only takes about 10-15 mins especially for someone like me who do not use a lot of makeup. These are easy steps to follow and taking care of your skin is very important to continue looking youthful.

What products do you use as part of your skincare routine?

Oh and stop sleeping on Avon people! if you are interested in using or trying the ANEW brand let me know.

Until next time,
xoxo Tanya