Speech pathologist’s passion brings an acute care focus
We spoke to Senior Lecturer Dr Amy Freeman-Sanderson to learn more about her journey from tertiary hospitals, working at the Graduate School of Health and everything in between.
Dr Amy Freeman-Sanderson is a Senior Lecturer in Speech Pathology at the Graduate School of Health with over 17 years of clinical experience in hospital settings in Australia and overseas. She is well known for her expertise with patients in critical care, particularly working to assess and treat their communication, speech, voice and swallowing disorders. We spoke to Amy to learn more about her and her work in our Q+A below:
What were your motivations for becoming a Speech Pathologist? Why are you passionate about this field?
Growing up, I enjoyed both Science and English and knew I wanted to job that involved teaching and being around people. After putting all these passions into the high school career-finder – it came up with Speech Pathology! So in 1998, I moved interstate from Canberra straight after high school and studied Speech Pathology at University of Sydney.
I enjoy finding answers for patients and their families –discovering what is causing their communication or swallowing concern and working together to improve things. Making a difference in helping people to be able to participate in communication and eating again is one of the best parts of the job. I really enjoy working in teams and sharing new knowledge.
Do you have a particular research area?
My research area is within Intensive Care Units, also called critical care – particularly around early intervention for communication. I am involved with other projects looking at swallowing function in acute health conditions, or illness, and at UTS I can really grow research in this area.
I’m most proud of the work I did during my PhD, which was a randomised control trial involving patients in the intensive care unit on breathing support, looking at ways they could communicate while keeping them safe. It was really rewarding to see it published in Critical Care Medicine. I received the Allied Health Research Award at the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society conference for this paper.
Why did you choose the Graduate School of Health?
I was attracted to the positive and forward-thinking vision of GSH, including the attributes for staff and students to make a difference. I was also attracted to the diversity of skills in the School, and excited to be able to contribute and build new collaborations in Speech Pathology and the Faculty of Health and other researchers across the University and beyond.
Tell us about your work prior to joining the Graduate School of Health
I’ve worked as a hospital-based clinician since 2003 at major acute tertiary hospitals in Sydney and in London, where I built up skills in the provision of Speech Pathology in the critical care setting. I’m very interested to discover how the speech pathology workforce can grow and make a difference to intensive care patients. I also managed the department at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Sydney for five years prior to moving to GSH.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’ll be growing my research collaborations and interests in hospital care for patients with a wide variety of health issues - with the aim of translating results to improve patient care and experience. I hope I can positively inspire UTS students to be lifelong researchers that provide the best possible care for people whether in hospital or at home. There’s so much we can do to improve things, I’m looking forward to teaching our students to enjoy the problem-solving and find new strategies for our patients.
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