With a master’s degree from Florida State University’s School of Communication Science & Disorders and a diverse background in speech-language pathology, Carmen Vitton is thriving as chief operating officer of an in-house therapy provider, while also collaborating on innovation of new tools in speech-language pathology.
When she graduated from Florida State 27 years ago, Vitton began her career as a speech-language pathologist, continually progressing up the ladder until starting her own company, Rehab Synergies, three years ago. Vitton is the chief operating officer of the in-house therapy provider, which is strategically aligned to provide skilled occupational, physical and speech-language therapy. The company has grown to over 250 full-time therapists, as well as another 250 therapists employed on an as needed basis.
“One of the things I think is really special about Rehab Synergies is that we have occupational, physical and speech therapy clinical liaisons,” Vitton said. “Our speech therapy clinical liaison truly is dedicated to only clinical fellowship supervision.
Vitton advises future speech-language pathologists not to, “close the door on the skilled nursing facility population. There’s so much opportunity and such a great need. You’re never bored in this setting – it really takes forward thinking.”
Throughout her career, Vitton has treated clients in a variety of settings including public schools, Visiting Nurses Association, hospitals, and skilled nursing. She was awarded the Accelerated Care Plus Innovator of the Year Award in 2013. Vitton is an American Speech-Language Hearing Association ACE Award recipient and has presented at Texas Speech-Language Hearing Association Conference.
In addition to her role at Rehab Synergies, Vitton is also part of a team that is developing tools to serve the Spanish-speaking population that do not exist in today’s market for clinicians.
“Florida has a fast-growing population of Spanish-speaking adults,” Vitton said. “We (Texas) have experienced this as well … not being able to treat patients who do not speak the same language. I don’t think our clinicians are prepared to treat these patients. Recently, I’ve been working with a couple of colleagues to develop a set of materials called MannaQure, English-to-Spanish treatment assessment materials.”
MannaQure, is a comprehensive, norm-referenced English-to-Spanish dysphagia and dysarthria assessment designed to identify, describe and quantify swallowing and oral-function deficits impacting the swallow process and speech production in the adult population. This comprehensive assessment is intended to be used by the monolingual Speech-Language Pathologist in the development of an individualized treatment approach for use with a Spanish-speaking patient.
One of the things Vitton remembers most about her Florida State education is the close association with the audiology program and her fieldwork placements under an audiologist.
“It really gave me a perception of aural rehab,” Vitton said. “What I have found in the field is that a lot of speech pathologists are not prepared or even aware of what the rehab audiologist does or how the speech pathologist can work with hearing losses.”
Gleaning from her own experiences, Vitton encourages current Florida State students to take on the challenges of leadership positions in the field of speech-language pathology.
“Don’t be afraid of being the manager or the leader,” Vitton said. “I think speech pathologists on the whole are very organized and good communicators. Those are the perfect people to be in a management role. I think a lot of our directors and regional team members are speech pathologists for that reason – it’s like an intrinsic skill they have. The possibilities are endless.”
Interested in a career in speech-language pathology? Learn more on the School of Communication Science & Disorders website.