Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Voice Geek

I just started my second year of graduate school this week. Second year speech pathology students do two different field placements (like a rotation or internship) in our last two semesters: a medical placement and a pediatric (generally school) placement. I started my medical placement on Monday at a large army hospital here in San Antonio. It's been exciting and scary and interesting and traumatic, all rolled into one. I have a great supervisor who is constantly pushing me out of my comfort zone (which is a blessing, though sometimes I have to remind myself of that). It's been particularly interesting because I eventually want to work in a medical/clinical setting with voice patients, and voice patients make up about 50% of our caseload. So I'm loving it.

One aspect of voice evaluation and therapy that I've been a little leery of, though, is scoping (or videostroboscopy). Basically, that's where the speech pathologist inserts a long metal rod with a light and camera on the end (rigid scope) through the patient's mouth to the back of their throat (without making them gag) to get a look at their vocal folds ("voice box") in action.

(See that metal rod in her hand? That's the camera. See the expression on that old guy's face? That's about how most people feel when they find out that thing's going to be getting acquainted with the back of their throat.)

(View of normal vocal folds (they're the whitish V-shaped things) from a videostroboscopy)

I've tried scoping people a few times before, and it's not easy: even if they don't gag, it's still hard to get a good view of the folds. But today, I did it. Grabbed the tongue, slipped the scope in her mouth, and all of a sudden a great shot of her larynx was on my screen. I got so excited that I totally forgot what to do next. It was fantastic.

Next on the list: learn how to insert a flexible scope (same idea, but this one goes up the nose). Woot!


  1. I hope I never have to get that done... but if this bad voice thing continues, I might have to.

    I'm scared to get my throat swabbed for strep :(

    You are a queen!

  2. I love you, Linds, and I support your future career. But I will NEVER (EVER) be your practice dummy. I'm sorry, it's just not going to happen.

  3. I didn't know you were doing speech pathology. My sister got her masters degree in that. She worked at Primary Children's and LDS hospital for about 1 1/2 before she started having kids. Then go figure she has kids that don't talk until they are 2. Ha, isn't that how it always works. Good luck. Sounds like you are finally on the tale end of things. Kristen (Mathews) McKinnon

  4. omgosh ummm up someone's nose next? you are so brave!