Health Spotlight — Jennifer Neely

Jennifer Neely

Meet Jennifer Parker Neely

AGE: 65.

YEARS IN PRACTICE: 26.

DEGREES: Master of Science Communication Disorders.

JOB: Speech Language Pathologist.

ADDRESS: Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center.

PHONE: (918) 577-4008.

HOURS: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

WHAT DREW YOU TO THE FIELD OF MEDICINE? 

“My parents were both musicians and educators. My father was a bandsman then medic in the Army during World War II. He also taught science at the old Franklin Elementary here in Muskogee. My mother taught voice lessons and elementary music, French, English and Social Studies. They both worked hard, and taught me the love of music, science and language. As a teenager, I went on a medical mission trip with the Presbyterian church youth to West Virginia “coal mining country.” It changed my life. I knew I wanted to work in a job that involved helping people.”

WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE IN YOUR FIELD? 

“As a medical speech pathologist, I work with patients who have had neurological problems such as stroke, head injury, Parkinson’s Disease, or head and neck cancer. Possible deficits that Speech Pathology addresses include: swallowing, cognition, speech and language, and voice. Patients do not always admit they are anxious, but considering the patient might have PTSD, pain, and fear of the unknown future, treatment can seem slow as these additional problems require addressing, as well.

“Staying abreast of the research in the growing field of Speech Pathology is an ongoing challenge. Working at the VA, I have access to many respected professionals, and educational opportunities and teamwork are readily available if one is willing to pursue such things.

"They say two heads are better than one. Within the Rehab we have a team of many professionals, each with an educated opinion. Team discussions, which also include the veteran and family, can be lively when working toward a conclusion addressing a veteran’s discharge, for example. However, the team effort is one that works for the best interest of the patient.”

WHAT’S THE NO. 1 THING YOU WANT PATIENTS TO KNOW?

“I want the patients to know I am here to help. It is very hard, especially for veterans, to admit they need help. We talk about that in therapy sessions. Most veterans have helped others in their lives, so now it becomes the veteran’s role to accept help and allow someone else to experience that joy of giving. The joy I receive is greater than the service I provide.”

NOMINATE SOMEONE:

Know somebody who is making a difference in the community through their health care job? Let us know so we can feature them in this space. Send email to news@muskogeephoenix.com or call (918) 684-2929 and speak to Executive Editor Elizabeth Ridenour.

— Kenton Brooks

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