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Provider Spotlight: Kim Priola

Kim Priola, M.C.D., CCC-SLP, is a Louisiana native, born and raised in South Louisiana in the New Orleans area where she still lives today. She did her undergraduate studies at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and attended Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans for her M.C.D in Communication Disorders. Kim enjoys biking and kayaking. She loves to read. And she especially loves to spend time with her family. Three generations live near each other…her grown children live nearby and so do her parents. She started with PL in 2018.

What inspired you to become an SLP?

My high school had a career day when I was a junior. A speech pathologist came and talked with us about all the opportunities in speech pathology and that just sold me. I decided at that moment that’s what I was going to do and I’ve never turned back.

What made you want to be a teletherapist with PL?

I was a speech therapist in the school system in Louisiana for 33 years. The last 10 years I was in an administrative role. I love providing therapy, and was ready to get back on the front line.

What do you enjoy about being a provider with PL?

When I was a therapist onsite in the schools, I was required to do lots of extra activities, that took away from my time in therapy with the students. Those activities included staff meetings, duty, moving from class to class, and many other things. With PL, I am able to provide therapy in a quiet environment where I have the students’ attention. There are no other distractions around. I can devote my time strictly to work with the students. Therefore, progress is often faster than with face-to-face therapy in the schools.

What were you most surprised about when you made the transition to be a teletherapist?

I was actually surprised at the amount of school systems that use teletherapists. I was also surprised by how smoothly it runs. The tech support is fabulous. If I have a tech problem, I can chat with the tech support and get the problem fixed ASAP.

What do you find most challenging about being a teletherapist?

It is a little challenging not being able to physically manipulate the student’s mouth when working on articulation. As a school SLP, there were times when I would show the student how to make a sound, and use my hands to support the jaw to introduce sounds. With teletherapy, I can’t do that the way I would when working onsite. However, I can use the PSP at the school sites to help me if needed.

Can you tell us about your caseload?

I serve three schools in Louisiana. One is an elementary school—that’s kindergarten through fourth grade. I also serve a junior high which is fifth through eighth grade. And then I serve two private school children who are in the first and second grades.

Could you walk us through your daily routine? A “day in the life of a PL therapist” if you will?

To begin my day I take my dog on a walk to the lake. When I get back I have my coffee—I always have to have coffee before I start. My kids are all grown so I don’t have any duties as far as that goes. My husband is a high school principal. He leaves very early in the morning so I have the space to myself. I drink my coffee and listen to some music. At around 7:30 I begin by reviewing the progress of my students that I will be seeing that day. I then take time to set up the therapy materials that I will be using. I provide therapy at three different schools within one district. Generally, I see students in groups of two. I have a few children that I see individually. I work with each group on selected materials. I document progress in the metrics and write my therapy notes before moving on to the next group of students. By the end of the day, I have all of my students seen and all of my notes written. On occasion I will attend IEP meetings virtually. I also enjoy conversing with the teachers via email and texts, to explain speech therapy goals and objectives for their students. After my last therapy session, I’ll usually eat a late lunch. Sometimes I’ll take another walk with the dog, or sometimes I’ll just start cooking dinner. My husband gets home around 5 o’clock and we often go for a walk or bike ride.

What is one piece of advice you would offer a therapist considering making the transition to telepractice?

I think the most important thing in my day is organization. As long as I have everything organized, I can go through each session and document those sessions right after they happen. The most important thing is not to get backed up on your documentation. Then you have all this work at one time. I like to do my documentation as soon as a session is over. I try to give myself minutes in between so I have time to document. Some days it doesn’t work that way if a child is running a little late, but I try to do it that way.

When I initially started teletherapy, I wasn’t sure how to use the metrics in the system. But that saves me so much time now and I see how easy it is. I would recommend that from the very beginning you learn how to use the metrics because the metrics definitely are really helpful. At first I was focusing on just getting therapy done with the children. And then once I became comfortable with the children, I circled back to the Telehealth Institute courses (PL’s professional development coursework) to learn the metrics. Telehealth Institute has been extremely helpful.

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