Interview with SLP: Jenna Kirby

  • Interviews with Therapists
  • By Jenna Kirby
  • Published on October 2, 2023

My name is Jenna Kirby, I am married and a mom of 2 boys who are 5 and 3!  I am a speech language pathologist in a school full time and also part time, I have my own private practice after school hours and in the summer.  We are an outdoorsy family…quads, gardening, hunting and fishing are some of our favorites to name a few. 

What did you go to school for?

Speech Language Pathology

What is your current job title and how has that changed since you first started working?

I am a speech language pathologist in a school full time and part time private practice. I have worked in ALL of the possible settings you can as an SLP: nursing homes, rehabilitation facility, early intervention, schools and hospitals. Eventually, I found my niche and I currently am working in a school and have my own private clients as well.

What made you decide to become a therapist?

I have a younger sister who was born with severe to profound hearing loss. She had many speech therapists in her life that helped her to learn, many of them who became like family. I saw them care, help and allow my sister to be herself. I knew from an early age this was exactly what I wanted to be.

What are some different roles you’ve held since becoming a therapist?

I am an SLP through and through. I run my own private practice on the side outside of school hours. It allows me to see more, gain more knowledge and also become closer with families which is something I pride myself on.  I work in 3 different buildings at the school I am employed by.  The role from school and private practice is completely different.  I love both however, each one comes with its challenges. 

What would you share with someone who wanted to find a position like yours or build a company/brand such as yours?

I would tell them they need to work hard in school and get ready to work harder when you become an SLP.  You will never stop learning from your clients. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made.  This job allows you to be flexible, have options, be creative and truly make a change in client’s lives (and better yet, in their family’s lives too). Also, never stop learning.  Stay up with new research and new approaches to therapy.  If there is training to learn something new, do it.  If there is an opportunity to talk to other SLPs or families of children who need help, do it.  You have to have a mindset of “never stop learning” IF you want to be a quality therapist.

What would you share with someone who is starting their journey to be a therapist?

Dip your toes into as much as you can to find your NICHE.  When I first started out, I worked in a school full time, early intervention in-homes after school hours and then nursing homes full time in the summer.  I had the opportunity to work with ages from birth to 90+ years old!  Fill your resume up while you can.  It only makes you a better person, therapist and more marketable for your dream job someday.

What are you most passionate about with your role as a therapist? 

Helping a person improve their quality of life.  One of the things I try and always think of when working with anyone is, how is this going to improve their life? How will this transfer to their home setting?  I am passionate about gaining trust of my clients and their families.  I pride myself on relationships and I believe there needs to be connections over compliance.  I just love making things easier for people.  Whether that is helping others understand their speech more so they aren’t frustrated when talking to others OR teaching them to use a device that helps supplement their speech so they can still communicate just in a different way!

Anything else you’d like to share about yourself and your journey to where you are right now?

It wasn’t always easy.  It still isn’t.  Every job has its ups and downs and I will never claim that it is perfect or a “DREAM” but I do love what I do.  Watching your clients grow and progress is the most rewarding feeling.  

What advice would you give your younger self?

Self care is so important.  You cannot possibly help anyone if you don’t help yourself first. 

Tell us about a time of uncertainty in your life and your reflections after that event. 

At one point in my career, I stood up for myself.  It was scary, difficult and I cried a lot.  I teach my clients to advocate for themselves A LOT, so why on earth would I not practice this myself?  In the end, I was able to make a CHANGE to how I was treated in the workplace and in the future the other SLPs benefited from it as well. To this day, I have moments of sadness about the reactions I received from people who just didn’t want to listen or receive what I had to say.  This experience truly shaped me as an individual. I look back and no longer feel regret about the situation.  That took time, but I am finally at a spot where I can say “It was hard, but I did that and I am proud of myself.”

What are you most proud of in your journey to where you are today?

Honestly, it is the families.  The families of all of the clients I have connected with over the years.  Their feedback has meant the world to me.  

What are ways our readers can connect with you and follow what you are up to?

Instagram & facebook: @SpeakAllWeek

Affiliate for @EmilyBspeech (SLP/therapists/teacher clothing and accessories).

Thank you for sharing your journey with us on Jobs For Therapists!