Our continued conversations series highlights the experts behind our content. Meet the presenters, contributors, and guest editors who make a difference in their fields and inspire our learners to do the same.
Nancy B. Swigert, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, is a longtime featured presenter for SpeechPathology.com. She is an expert in the areas of dysphagia, coding, reimbursement, and documentation, and she consults and publishes on these topics in her role as president of Swigert & Associates. She previously served as Director of Speech-Language Pathology and Respiratory Care at Baptist Health Lexington, an acute care facility in Lexington, Kentucky, and prior to that spent 25 years in private practice.
During her 43-year career in speech-language pathology, she has served the profession as president of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), president of the Kentucky Speech-Language Hearing Association, and chair of the American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders. She also served ASHA as vice president for government and social policies, chaired the healthcare economics committee, and was part of a special interest group on swallowing. She received the Honors of ASHA in 2015.
"I was drawn to the speech-language pathology field because it is never stagnant, and after 43 years, I can still say that I have never been bored."
Why did you initially pursue a career in speech-language pathology?
I am one of those rare people that made the decision in high school on what career path I wanted to pursue. It became evident to me my junior year of high school that I wanted something in the medical field, but was unsure of what profession specifically. As a first generation college student, the idea of being a physician was foreign to me. A career day in high school exposed me to speech-language pathology, and I was immediately drawn to the field.
What was it about the field that piqued your interest so strongly?
I was drawn to the speech-language pathology field because it is never stagnant, and after 43 years, I can still say that I have never been bored. As a speech-language pathologist, a professional can choose to work with children or adults in many different ways. The field offers so many directions that it feels like I’ve had multiple careers across the span of one career.
Where has your career journey taken you?
I was in private practice for 25 years, doing everything from early intervention, voice disorders, children and adults with feeding and swallowing disorders, and running a reading center for children. During most of this time, I was also contracted by Baptist Health Lexington, a community-based hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. I eventually closed my practice to work exclusively with this hospital and ran the speech-language pathology and respiratory care departments. This provided me with the opportunity to work with a different allied health profession, which was a great experience. I later got my green belt in Lean/Six Sigma and led process improvement teams for the hospital.
You now teach and consult across the country. In what areas do you specialize?
I get invited by different associations to teach in the areas I specialize, such as dysphagia, business processes, documentation, and coding. Hospital systems and large clinical practices will invite me to come do workshops, which include going over clinical skills and practices for their specific areas. On top of this, I continue to write and recently finished the 4th edition of The Source for Dysphagia.
"Online continuing education helps the profession become more dynamic in all aspects and is key to making professionals step outside their comfort zone and engage in new material that pertains to the current practice."
What value does online continuing education have on your field?
It is most frustrating to meet a speech-language pathologist who is doing the same things they did 25 years ago, as this does not provide good service to the patients. There is always something new you can learn through continuing education, and it ensures professionals will broaden their knowledge and skill base. Online continuing education helps the profession become more dynamic in all aspects and is key to making professionals step outside their comfort zone and engage in new material that pertains to their current practice.
Why do you like working with continued’s SpeechPathology.com as a presenter?
I love working with continued! The company is extremely organized, and all of the components are clearly laid out for the presenters, which makes it easy for the speakers. However, I still have control over how the information is presented and what I present to continued’s members. There is a collaborative relationship, where I can approach SpeechPathology.com with a potential topic or they can ask me about a potential topic to present. Another key benefit to working with continued is the convenience aspect. I have found that face-to-face conferences are expensive and more time consuming. Also, there is a large variety of topics to access whenever you want and all of them are top-notch speakers.