Destined to Get her CCCs

As a newly ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist, Haley Tatum already has a lot to bring back to the hospital where her passion for the profession began.

In her youth, Haley Tatum always dreamt of working in the medical field just like her parents — but she wasn’t sure how. Then, at age 16 she discovered her true calling as she shadowed Julie, her mom’s coworker and a speech-language pathologist.

“I fell in love with speech-language pathology,” Haley said. “It’s almost a decade later now and I’m still just as in love with the field.”

Haley studied speech-language pathology at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and earned her master’s degree from East Tennessee State University (ETSU). Along the way, she had several mentors, including ETSU professor — and 2021 ASHA President — A. Lynn Williams. When it came time to look for a job, she contacted Julie, her original inspiration, who was looking for someone to join her team at Parkridge Medical Center in Chattanooga. Julie had been the only full-time speech-language pathologist on staff for 15 years, so Haley’s addition was more than welcomed. In a full-circle moment, she got her dream job at the same place she first fell in love with the profession.

“It was perfect,” she said.  

Haley continued her professional development by getting her CCCs in June 2022, an accomplishment that Julie helped Haley celebrate by surprising her with a C-shaped cake. For Haley, earning her CCCs was part of a personal commitment to ongoing professional growth and education.

“While completing my clinical fellowship during COVID, we had to adapt in so many ways as to how we treated and evaluated patients,” she said. “Earning my CCCs is me just promising myself that I’m going to continue learning and keeping up with the newest advancements instead of just sticking with what I already know.”

In her short time at Parkridge, Haley has already made an impact. Recently, she started a teletherapy program, pivoting to meet the unique needs of her patients who have left the hospital or are unable to come in with regularity.

“Just because you are fresh out of school, completing your clinical fellowship, or just got your CCCs, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make an impact,” she said.

Haley credits her CCCs for preparing her to face these challenges, while also expanding her opportunities as someone just starting out in her career.

“Earning the CCCs is definitely worth it,” she said. “The ASHA portal in itself — having access to resources, articles, CEUs — opens doors for you that you wouldn’t have without your CCCs.”

Wherever Haley’s career takes her next, she’s confident that the CCCs will guide her as she fulfills her commitment to always learning more, and she hopes her story can encourage other young professionals.

“You may not have as much experience as some of your co-workers, but you still have a lot of knowledge and skills to bring to the table.”