Speech Pathology: Kristin Wegener
Kristin Wegener used her music background and a Masters degree to become a versatile and creative speech pathologist across a range of health conditions.
As a speech pathologist with Epworth HealthCare, Kristin Wegener enjoys working with adults whose communication and swallowing is affected by a variety of conditions.
With a degree in music performance, Kristin graduated with a Master of Speech Pathology in 2013, providing her with a unique skill set she uses to improve the lives of people who need speech therapy.
Why the University of Melbourne?
I was planning to return to Melbourne after living and working overseas for two years and knew I wanted a change in career. I had already completed my undergraduate degree in music performance and was looking for a Masters program in speech pathology.
The university was offering the course I was looking for and some friends and family also said they'd had great experiences studying there, which cemented my decision to apply.
What are your strongest memories of university?
Working really hard and learning an amazing amount. Coming from a music and teaching background, it was a big learning curve jumping into a health sciences degree. The strongest memories I have also involve the incredible experiences I had on clinical placements and working with amazing supervisors.
It was a real privilege to be able to provide care to the patients/clients I met on placement, and I still think about them to this day.
Who motivated you at university?
My lecturers, placement supervisors and fellow students all played a role in motivating me to work hard and get through the course.
What goals did you set, and have you stuck to that plan?
I always wanted to work within an adult caseload in a hospital setting. I was so happy to eventually obtain a rotational position across adult outpatient rehab, inpatient rehab, and acute services in my first job and then moved on to a role solely in acute. So, I definitely stuck to my plan!
Tell us more about your role and how university helped you prepare for it.
I'm currently working as a speech pathologist in an acute inpatient hospital setting. I work across all wards which includes neurology, neurosurgery, general medicine, orthopaedic, cardiology, oncology, head and neck, ICU, and ED.
I think the breadth of subjects taught in the course helped me to gain the appropriate skills to know how to work across a varied caseload. I was also extremely lucky to have multiple hospital placements, so I became very familiar with the clinical environment.
Even though I have learned so much since graduating and continue to do so, I had a solid base to start from.
What is your driving force?
My patients and my team. I always want to learn more and provide the best standard of care for my patients, as well as contribute to a thriving and supportive allied health department.
What advice do you have for current students?
Keep an open mind and trust that after all the hard work you're putting in, you will find the right role for you.
What are some career highlights and what’s next?
I had wonderful experiences working in a regional hospital at the start of my career, including initiating and running a choir for people with aphasia, as well as teaching allied health assistant students at the local university.
In my current role I've been able to achieve competencies in videofluoroscopy (a dynamic or moving x-ray of swallowing function), FEES and tracheostomy, as well as complete a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Education. I also really enjoy working with voice and upper airway disorders, so look forward to further learning and perhaps study in this area.