Effective Communication With Dr. Toaddy

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200A is Dr. Toaddy’s Office in Woodard Hall

Dr. Steven Toaddy’s collegiate journey started in Ohio at Ohio Wesleyan University with a psychology major and a philosophy minor. Once Toaddy graduated from Ohio Wesleyan, he traveled to North Carolina State University to pursue his master’s degree and PHD. He received these titles in Industrial-Organizational psychology. With these credentials he applied to a job being offered at Louisiana Tech University where he currently works as an assistant professor.

Dr. Toaddy felt that “psychology always spoke to [him] because of [the] interest [he] had in people.” His true passion for psychology is for the industrial and organizational field. Toaddy believes this specific field can create “small, understated, incremental improvements in many of thousands of peoples lives.” Where as, the clinical side of psychology can have large improvements on a person’s life. Both clinical and industrial fields of psychology are great tactics to help better people’s lives.

To better students lives here at Louisiana Tech Dr. Toaddy, “educates PHD, masters, and undergraduate students to conduct research alone and with those people to serve the university, [his] department and [his] profession.” With this being said Toaddy sees himself more as an educator then a teacher in his profession. Toaddy’s favorite part about his job is working with “the PHD students because they are so yoked towards this work, and to a small group of faculty, I get to see them and mentor them a bunch so watching those people grow is my favorite.”

In Toaddy’s every day life, he uses verbal communication to coordinate with students and fellow faculty. Instruction, consulting, research, administrative faculty and subcommittee meetings are all conducted verbally to make sure everyone working in the department and with the department is on the same page. Toaddy believes all of the meetings in person are “dwarfed 3:1 by the communication that occurs via written media.” Even with this believed ratio by Toaddy he still believes both types of communication are important for his field of work.

Benefits about written communication for Toaddy is that he can use it when people he is working with can not attend a meeting. For example, when information needs to be shared quickly, Toaddy can send an email to the person he was supposed to meet with to inform them of the details. The email can be sent at any time of the day so the person who is receiving the information can retrieve it on his or her own time. Email seems to be the leader of written communication in Toaddy’s every day life for most convenient way to communicate. Toaddy also uses written communication to keep student records, and produces inter-office communications in a sense memorandum form as a way to briefly answer people’s questions.

Dr. Toaddy asked himself if he lost either verbal or written communication would he be able to survive on the basis of the other. With this thought he believed that written communication would be more important to have. Toaddy said, “one cannot convey durably in spoken form, so if I’m trying to convey something that is adequately complicated, I must do that in written form to the best of my knowledge. I don’t believe people possess memory and [the ability] to convey and remember counter respectably those densities of information.” With this being said written communication can let people worry less about how they sound or how they pronounce certain words. It also helps a person explain difficult information easier because they can take time to write down their thoughts.

Now in regards to which communication is easier, Toaddy believes that verbal is easier to express. It is only easier because people are not explaining as complicated of topics as someone would while writing for written communication. Overall, both verbal and written communication help Dr. Toaddy be a successful assistant professor.

Laura LeFevour, Guest Blogger

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Communication is Key for Counseling

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Choosing a college and a major is a difficult and stressful process. Jacob Hilton followed in his brother’s footsteps and decided to come to Louisiana Tech University to be an architect major. This decision quickly changed during the first quarter of school once he saw his classmates sleeping over in the architect building to finish their projects. Jacob decided to try the field of sociology with a minor in psychology for his undergraduate degree and never turned back.

Hilton was always passionate about becoming a counselor. People were telling him that he would have to put in a lot of hours and receive little pay if he went through with his plan. Defying all the pressure and stereotypes Hilton had a couple of different internships and he now works in Louisiana Tech’s counseling center. His dream of being a counselor has come true and is now a guidance counselor with an emphasis in mental health. He is all of that plus a counseling coordinator of student relations and special projects.

Hilton says his job consists of “60-70% counseling and the remainder is making all the signs, PR and brochures.” Verbal communication is very important between Hilton’s clients and himself. He uses “talk therapy [which is] to be able to meet a client at their level and to talk to them at their level.” He also uses analogies to get complex points across to his clients. To accomplish this he uses simpler terms in verbal communication in his sessions with a client. Hilton describes his profession “as one where you constantly have to learn.” With this constant learning process the staff and the other counselors have to all talk to be on the same page with one another to make the counseling center run correctly. The counseling part of Hilton’s job is his favorite but he emphasizes on how important written communication is as well.

He believes written communication is extremely important. As stated before Hilton is in charge of creating brochures for the counseling center. This job needs to be taken seriously because if someone can’t read it for certain reasons or if the grammar is wrong then the result will be confusing instead of good advertising. When Hilton is making signs he wants to make sure people can take one look at it and get all the information they need about the topic. He also believes that graphics have an important role by helping get the point across. All of these projects help advertise the counseling center in a positive light.

Louisiana Tech’s counseling center is a true mental health facility, which means all of their clients have a file. This is the most important paperwork Hilton has to do. He needs to maintain a log of every client so he can follow up with every person. The notes Hilton makes in these files have to be extremely precise to where if someone doesn’t come for a year then randomly shows up again he needs to be able to look at his notes and know exactly where they left off. Most importantly, these files can be used in court. So if someone needed his help to get out of trouble his notes need to be solid and accurate. Through these files he creates a treatment plan for all of his clients in hope for a positive outcome.

Hilton believes that both verbal and written communication is equally important in his specific job. Written is more difficult because “it has to evoke imagery and [not] offend anybody which has been the ultimate pain because [the counseling center] talks about a lot of sensitive issues, so they have to get their point across and yet make it interesting enough where people will want to show up.”

Louisiana Tech students are lucky to have such convenient counseling services for free on campus. Hilton plus many more great counselors are there at multiple hours of the day for anyone interested in counseling services. This center is located in Keeny Hall on Louisiana Tech’s campus.

IMG_5272Keeny Hall

Laura LeFevour, Guest Blogger

 

Technical Communication in Home Therapy

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Erin Easterling: Home Therapist


Erin Easterling is a certified physical therapist from West Monroe, Louisiana. She now works for Amedysis Home Health organization in Gonzales, Louisiana. As a home health therapist, she travels to patients’ houses to perform therapy so they are better equipped to carry out every-day life skills. She works mostly with disabled and elderly people who cannot physically leave their home.

The Path to Physical Therapy


When Erin was pursuing her bachelor’s degree in science, she was unsure of what career she wanted to pursue but was very interested in the medical field. Erin began volunteering in a hospital and decided that physical therapy was her calling. As a volunteer in this hospital, Erin learned one of the most important skills in the medical field- communication.

The Art of Communication


Erin says that communication is the hardest part of her job. There are many different methods Erin uses to communicate with doctors, other physical therapists and coworkers, and patients. If communication is not effective on all sides of the treatment for patients, insurance companies may not pay for the service. This makes the need for effective communication skills absolutely imperative as a therapist.

Oral Communication

Oral communication skills are vital in physical therapists’ relationship with their patients. A therapist has to translate medical terms from doctors into tangible ideas for patients. Erin sometimes finds it easier to talk to doctors than to her patients because it is so difficult to “dumb down” her usual speech.

In order to connect with her patients, Erin uses many different methods. She draws pictures for her patients to show anatomy and sometimes finds pictures from internet sources to explain how to do certain exercises.

Cross-Cultural Communication

Some of Erin’s patients do not speak English well, so she has resorted to a translating app. This allows the patient and Erin to communicate by texting back and forth on a device.

Technical Communication

While oral communication works well for therapist-patient interaction, it is not always convenient and effective for communication between doctors, therapists, and insurance companies. Therefore, Erin results to emails and texts when circumstances are not as professional, but sometimes official paperwork must be done.

According to Erin, home health has more paperwork than any other job she has ever had. Regulations in home health are so strict that paperwork becomes a task in itself. The therapists have to fill out detailed patient reports, look at insurance reports, and receive official documented orders from doctors.

Technical Communication Development


While we still call this “paperwork,” the documents are not on paper at all. Instead, they are on an iPad that Erin is allowed to carry with her. When she was in the hospital environment only ten years ago, everything was written on paper and stored in physical files. Now, technology has made it convenient to store all information on patients in a digital file.

Erin feels like this is more convenient because she can type faster than she can write, and technology has a convenience factor to it, but there is one downfall. Sometimes, computers and iPads do not work, and Erin is handicapped from her own work.

Not everyone in her field is as satisfied with using technology in the workplace as Erin. Some older therapists only liked the “old-fashioned” way, and some elderly patients do not appreciate their therapists seeming like they are constantly playing games and typing on a device.

Personal Technical Communication Development


When asked if she feels like an effective technical communicator, Erin said that she is still learning, and she always will be. She is figuring out how different software works and where she can take shortcuts to make things easier on herself.

One of Erin’s final comments on technical communication is an idea that we may all need to hear:

“We have to keep developing our technical communication skills as technology keeps developing, or else we’ll get behind and never catch up.”

Sarah Minter, Guest Blogger

A Great Pilot

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 An Even Better Communicator

 

 

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Captain Adams in the cockpit

For airline pilots, communication is probably the second most important skill, right behind the flying experience.  It plays a major role in getting the flying public from one place to another.  Their whole job is wrapped around it and they must be able to execute it perfectly.

I was able to sit down with Captain Keith Adams for an interview and get an idea on what it is like to be an airline pilot.  He works for United Airlines and flies the Boeing 737.  A normal day for Captain Adams is meeting with the first officer and reviewing the flight plan, which is written in some technical form.  After, he must brief the entire crew on what to expect for the day.  Then, he has to properly communicate with gate agents, flight attendants, ground personnel, air traffic control, and other airplanes.  Pilots would not talk to the flight attendants the same way they would to air traffic control because the lingo changes.

“You will not get very far in aviation without communication,” said Captain Adams.  When pilots fly, they have to know whom they are talking to, why they are talking to them, and what type of communication to use.

Written communication is just as important in this industry.  “Documents such as maintenance reports must be very precise when writing them in the captain’s log,” Captain Adams told me.  There are numerous reasons why a captain would have to write a technical report.  Some reasons could be for aircraft malfunctions and some for in-flight airplane emergencies, which causes the pilots to land at a different airport than they had planned for.  This is a big deal because landings at unplanned airports do not happen as often as people think and important people need to be notified.

A captain even has the authority to deny boarding to a passenger that he or she thinks will cause harm to him or herself or any of the other passengers. “I had to deny a passenger here in the states wanting to fly to Europe because she was sick and I thought that she would get the other passengers sick, or worsen her condition,” Captain Adams said.  Since this was the case, the captain had to write a detailed report stating reasons why this happened the way it did.

Other forms of written communication could be messages sent from the aircraft to other controllers, but not as technical as a report.  These scenarios could be flying oversees to other countries that know English, but do not know how to speak it properly.  “We have a program called CPDLC, which stands for controller pilot data link communications.  It works like a text message and we are basically messaging foreign air traffic controllers certain details about our flight.  We do this so we do not have to talk to them on the radio and possibly miss an important instruction because of their inability to properly communicate,” Captain Adams explained.

Before a pilot can communicate, he or she must first be able to listen.  “A pilot never wants to lose his or her situational awareness,” said Captain Adams.  Having situational awareness means listening not only to the air traffic controller, but other pilots as well.  This helps build a mental picture of what is going on around the pilots and lets them act accordingly.  While airplanes may change from two to four engines or props to jets, one thing that will always stay the same in aviation is the fact that we communicate.

 

Posted by Matthew Adams, guest blogger

 

Speech Pathology In The School Setting

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Speech Language Pathologists can work with virtually any age group and in a variety of settings. Speech Pathologists can work in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, clinics, and they can even go from home to home. When I graduate with my masters in Speech Pathology I would like to be able to work with small children in either a clinical or school setting.

I had the opportunity to interview Mrs. Lisa Nelson who is a speech therapist at Glenview Elementary School. Mrs. Lisa is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University and has her masters degree in Speech Language Pathology. She has worked as a Speech Language Pathologist for twenty years and for Glenview Elementary for three years. Over the last twenty years she has worked in home health for eighteen years and in the Lincoln Parish school system for three years, with some of that time overlapping.

Mrs. Nelson’s job includes, screening and evaluating children to decide if they need to be in speech therapy or not. If a child qualifies for speech therapy it is Mrs. Nelson’s job to write goals for the child as well as an Individual Education Plan  (IEP). This requires the use of her technical writing skills, because this is a document that not only goes to the parents and teachers, but also to the state. This document will follow the student to a new school or school system within the state. She also meets with the child’s parents and come up with a schedule of when to pull the child out of class for therapy.

There is a lot of writing in the field of speech pathology. Speech pathologists write IEP’s, goals, objectives, and they write letters and emails to parents to keep them up to date on their child’s progress. She communicates with the principal and other teachers by email and texting. She says texting is an easy form of communication in the school because they can remind each other when an IEP is scheduled for, and the time and place of an upcoming meeting.

When working with the children she uses methods such as; visuals that the children are able to touch and have a hands on example of what is being taught, and auditory learning methods such as saying the words to the children.

Mrs. Nelson believes that the writing associated with speech Pathology is informal because when she communicates with a parent or faculty she cannot use the intricate terminology used by Speech Language Pathologists because not very many people would understand what the problem with the child is or how to go about fixing it.

To someone pursuing a job in speech pathology, Mrs. Nelson suggests that they should observe a speech pathologist while they are still getting their bachelor’s degree because there are a lot of different places that a speech pathologist can work. Therefore it would be beneficial for them to go and observe at different places and see wether they like working with older people, trauma patients, children, or infants. She also suggests that they visit the ASHA web site, which is the official web site of the American Speech and Hearing Association, to learn more about the program and what is expected of a speech therapist.

Mrs. Nelson believes that speech pathologists are extremely important in the school systems because they help prepare the children to be able to communicate and excel in their academic studies. They also prepare the children to be able to go out into the world after they graduate from school and be able to communicate adequately in society.

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Darby Rowland, guest blogger

Communication: You Want to Do it Right

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Carnal at the controls

Communication: You Want to Do it Right

 

Communication to aviation is as important as wings on an airplane. You will not be in the air very long without it, and that could mean the difference between life or death.

When pilots are flying, the control tower and themselves need to be communicating clearly at all times.  Trouble is near when there is a break in communication. When a flight instructor has a student, they must be able to communicate well with them because they depend on the instructor’s communication ability to accomplish the task right.

I had the chance to sit down and interview Keelan Carnal. He is a flight instructor here at Tech and also flies as a corporate pilot. Carnal will soon have enough hours and experience to start flying for the airlines.

When I asked him how important communication is in aviation, he said,“ You will not teach anybody anything without being able to properly communicate with them.” He even went on to say how he communicates with himself when he flies solo just to make sure he is not forgetting anything.

Another form of communication that can be overlooked is written communication. Just like earlier, you have to vary your communication strategy depending on what type of person you are talking to. Maybe this person cannot get the concept by the way it is being communicated to him or her, but if it is written or drawn out, it might spark something and get them on the right track.

As far as writing technical reports or documents, Carnal said he only has to do that when he has to write up some malfunction about the aircraft. However, you really have to be specific and technical in a way to get the mechanics to understand exactly what the problem is. “Altitude, time, power setting, weather conditions are all items that must be included in the report, along with what was happening to the aircraft,” he told me.

Throughout the interview, Carnal did stress on the importance of varying communication styles with different people when instructing. “Not all students learn the same way, so you are continuously changing your approach,” Carnal said. Instructors would not communicate the same way with a student that has zero flight hours and another student that has one thousand flight hours. I believe this is true, because I have been able to fly with different instructors and I remember how each one told me the same thing in a different way.

Listening is another key factor in being able to communicate well. Carnal stated, “You will not be able to communicate correctly if you do not listen, and if you don’t listen, you will not know what to communicate.”

Failing to communicate properly is something that pilots attempt to avoid. When that happens, everyone will not be on the same page. When every pilot does not understand what is going on, accidents start occurring.

“It is all about what type of person you are talking to that depends on what type of communication skill is needed,” Carnal said.   The key is finding out what important skill to use to get the message across. In the airplane, things happen quickly, so being able to know what to say and how to say it in time critical situations can make a huge difference.

Posted by Matthew Adams, guest blogger

A Professional Touch: Communication in a Pediatric Clinic

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Dr. Ayfarah Frangieh

Dr. Ayfarah Frangieh

When parents bring their children to the doctor, they want to be reassured that their babies will be taken care of by a true professional. Dr. Ayfarah Frangieh, a pediatrician working in Oak Grove Medical Clinic, knows this situation well. She allowed me to interview her on how she communicates with families about the things most important to them: the well-being of their children.

Dr. Frangieh tells me that her profession involves lots of face to face contact with her patients and their parents. However, before she can speak with any patient, she must first go through a communication checklist made by the American Academy of Pediatrics. These are made for patients based on their age, and include spaces to write any complaints the children or their parents want to bring to her attention. There are several other special checklists she and her nurses use if a child is suspected to have a specific problem, such as hyperactivity disorders, autism, or abnormal vital signs.

Dr. Frangieh explains that a special kind of communication is needed with her patients. Worried parents and children often simply need to be reassured. “Sometimes you don’t do anything for them medically, but just by explaining to them what you’ve done or what you can do keeps them… trusting you more,” Dr. Frangieh says. She has developed an informal system for communicating in each examination.

She begins by greeting everyone nicely and making the parent or guardian in the room feel comfortable. She then hears everything about the patient from the adult, though she keeps eye contact with both parent and child. Then she asks the child (if they are old enough) to explain it in their own words. The important thing is to keep the atmosphere “open, nonjudgmental,” she explains. She also keeps her lab coat off to keep her younger patients from being nervous.

This personal connection she establishes with her patients is her favorite form of communication. When asked if she felt that her professional attitude helps in these interactions, Dr. Frangieh says “Absolutely. By far the number one thing that actually keeps my patients coming back to me.” They appreciate her willingness to listen to each concern they have. This reassurance also prevents parents from worrying and rushing to the emergency room.

While her patient charts are definitely crucial, most written communication in her workplace is focused on closing the gaps between receptionist, nurse, and doctor. Any time a shift is switched or a document changes hands, some details are at risk of being lost. This is why Dr. Frangieh places such an emphasis on writing down all information. Written communication “keeps everybody on one wavelength” and allows people to pick up where another person leaves off.

Outside of her day-to-day clinical work, Dr. Frangieh is sometimes called upon to speak at certain events about healthcare. For example, she was recently asked to prepare a presentation for the Relay for Life. She will write a report, give a speech, and present slides for an audience of about 500-600 people about the importance of preventative care for breast cancer. She will focus the presentation on awareness and keeping one’s body in good health. This form of communication is very different from what she normally experiences, but she has been asked to do this several times both during her residency and at her own clinic.

Dr. Frangieh definitely values professional communication in her workplace. She notes that both in her own hiring process and in the hiring of others, good communication skills are a must. They keep her work environment running smoothly, minimizing clerical errors and reassuring worried patients. Even outside of work, these skills are important to spreading information to others. Effective communication leads to effective treatment, and this keeps her patients safe and healthy.

Randi Domingue, guest blogger