Kylee DeWitt


A Day in the Life: Kylee DeWitt, Speech-Language Pathologist


Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are a critical part of our care team at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab — treating speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication and swallowing disorders in both children and adults. 

Follow along for a day in the life of Kylee DeWitt, an SLP at our Streeterville DayRehab Center in Chicago: 

7:30 am: I arrive at work, quickly review emails, then join the team that is scheduling for the day. We review what patient needs and staffing are like for the given day to set the six-hour therapy schedule for the SLPs on our team with a mixture of 1:1 sessions, groups and evaluations. 

I’ve been at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab since September 2020, and I’ve been fortunate to work in different levels of care and at different locations. The Streeterville DayRehab team consists of SLPs, physical therapists (PTs), occupational therapists (OTs), rehab techs, psychologists, nurses, a physician, a vocational rehabilitation counselor and social worker. 

We see pediatric and adult patients who have a wide range of diagnoses and conditions: stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury, transplant, oncology and others. 

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Physical Therapy Group
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Speech-language Pathology Group

8:20 am: I have a brief discussion with our team lead, OTs and PTs to review an evaluation from the previous week to determine goals, discharge plans and any other additional supports that are needed.

8:30 am: My first patient of the day! A family member joins in during this session for ongoing education. We create external aids including a timeline of their medical events and discuss the goals of therapy moving forward.

9:30 am: I complete an evaluation for a patient after an organ transplant, who came to us after completing inpatient rehabilitation at the flagship hospital in Chicago. This evaluation includes assessments of voice, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and cognition.

10:30 am.: Another therapy session, this time targeting dysarthria, which is difficulty speaking due to changes in breath support, coordination and weakened muscles. With this patient, we practice strategies for coordinating breath support and target specific speech sounds that impact intelligibility during conversation. We review a home exercise program to promote independence and improve self-monitoring in day-to-day life.

11:20 am: During a break for lunch, everyone at Streeterville DayRehab sits at their desks in our shared staff commons. Today, we all catch up on documentation, emails and the day’s schedule, and check on any patient needs that came up earlier in the day. 

12:10 pm: With a patient who wants to return to work, I review their metacognitive strategies: a process of evaluating one’s own thinking by setting goals, creating plans, completing a task and reviewing for ways to improve. We use these strategies to determine if there are any changes that could be made today in this patient’s life to improve attention to detail and success in their daily responsibilities.

1:10 pm: This session’s patient has a goal of returning to school, but experienced changes in attention and memory since their hospitalization. I introduce some memory strategies and we practice encoding information from a news story and recalling details.

After this session ends, I make a quick call to the primary care doctor of a patient I saw last week — I need to follow up on an order from a physician in a different network to begin psychology services at the DayRehab site.

2:10 pm: My final patient of the day is a pediatric patient whose goals include following multistep directions, using multiple words together in a sentence, and expanding the vocabulary she is understanding and using. We use Play-Doh to execute different directions and describe what we create — “I’m rolling the Play-Doh,” “I’m pulling,” “I’m cutting,” “I’m smashing,” etc.

3 pm: All the patients are leaving the clinic, but the Streeterville DayRehab staff stay to finish up documentation, meetings and collaborations. My favorite part about working in DayRehab is the frequent communication between all disciplines; everyone shares their knowledge with one another to provide the best care possible.

4:30 pm: Most of us at Streeterville DayRehab leave around 4 pm, but today I wanted to stay a little later to get a head-start on progress notes for our team rounds and scheduling for tomorrow. But now, it’s time for me to head home!

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