Kyle Mamyia

Name, number of years as an SLP, current place of work: Kyle Mamiya, 21 years, Seattle VA Medical Center

Personal interests: Road tripping, camping and other outdoor and water sports, and of course, whatever my wife and kids are into

Main areas of SLP interest/specialty areas: Cognitive communication, dysphagia and voice disorders

Why did you choose to become a speech pathologist? I grew up enjoying jobs like teaching kids how to swim and coaching pee wee soccer. In college I volunteered at the Early Intervention Program on campus, and in a molecular ecology conservation lab. I was in a quandary about what to do when I grew up. After undergrad I worked in my school’s Hem/Onc Dept., and this allowed the chance to job shadow and enjoy many a happy hour with folks from many disciplines for some years. Ultimately, our vocation seemed to check every box for a fulfilling and meaningful lifestyle and work combo. I love the chance to build rapport, and integrate art, science, and emotional intelligence in our work. Dad was a career guy in the Air Force and Mom was a DoD teacher, so I grew up on or around bases in a service oriented community. Our veteran and active duty stockholders, dedicated colleagues, and the VA setting has felt familiar, and a wonderful match for me.

Most significant SLP accomplishment? Assisting in establishing tele-practice services for our dept. and providing training to others. Each day, though, has its share of significant accomplishments and fails for me.

Favorite patient story? Hmm, this is tough. Not a favorite per se, but a meaningful story to me. A bitter sweet one. A heroic infantryman was wounded very badly while trying to save one of his soldiers who was pinned down by enemy forces. He was stabilized and after some weeks and a few stops, came to our facility accompanied by family who were always by his side. We worked over some months on speech and swallowing. He was eager to be able to speak with his wife, family, and his troops. There was a lot of communication with his unit, and he worried over them. I learned so much about faith, courage, selfless and effective leadership, and about marriage from the relative newly weds. Sadly, he succumbed to his wounds, and to this day many of us who worked with them share an unspoken bond and tenderness for one another. Years later, I learned his wife relayed her delight when he was able to speak and cleared to have something to drink while on the ventilator, in a remembrance of their ordeal. A flood of emotions hit me so hard and highlighted the immense effect our role and services might have on the experiences of our patients and their loved ones. I am honored and humbled by the trust extended to help our patient clearly dictate how he was going to continue on in his journey, and increase some comfort for him and his loved ones. Our patient and his lessons of service, loyalty, and authentic leadership are never forgotten and often front and center.

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