His job as a speech therapist is “pretty taxing,” so when Max Saeger, MS ‘19
, gets home from work, he likes to relax by singing. He’s been singing in school and community choirs since he was in elementary school, and would someday love to pursue more organized community-based singing.
It’s a familiar tune for Saeger. After completing both his didactic and clinical training in the Speech-Language Pathology (SLP)
department at Salus University, he did a nine-month clinical fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, and it was there where he conducted voice therapy with his patients.
That experience combined his personal and professional interests, which has been a tremendous benefit for Saeger as his career progresses. "As far as organized singing these days, it doesn’t happen a lot, just mostly in my car,” he said. “When I was at Jefferson, my mentor at the time was also training me in voice therapy. It just kind of fell into my lap and I’m grateful for that opportunity to be able to mix my personal interests and professional interests. It was through Salus that I realized this was a possibility.”
Originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Saeger became interested in becoming a speech therapist working with children in a school setting. After earning a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Penn State, his master's degree from Salus University and his experience here convinced him that working with adults in a medical setting was his preference.
He chose Salus, he said, because the SLP program made it clear from the beginning that its students would get a lot of non-academic experience by directly interacting with professionals currently in the profession.
“Ultimately it was a great fit. I would never have gone somewhere where I didn’t feel comfortable or have a good sense of what the program would offer me,” said Saeger. “I recommend it to many people. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.”
Immediately after graduation from Salus University's SLP master's program, all speech therapists are required to complete a clinical fellowship that can last anywhere from six to nine months to be recognized as a licensed speech therapist. Saeger completed his fellowship at a nursing home in New Jersey.
His externship with Thomas Jefferson University Hospital laid the groundwork for Saeger to return there full-time after his fellowship, where he worked for a year and a half.
He then made a decision that would have an impact on him both professionally and personally: He moved to New York and took a job at New York Presbyterian, an organization that operates multiple hospitals in New York City. His home base is at Columbia University Hospital where he currently works in multiple settings, including acute care, outpatient and inpatient rehab units. Saeger is also being cross-trained in other areas as well. “It’s given me a great opportunity to expand on my skills and see a wider variety patients and disorders,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for widening my horizons and helping to guide me toward figuring out what I want to do in the long-term.”
From a personal standpoint, the move to New York also allowed him to move in with his partner Richie, and their two dogs, a pitbull named Lucy and a chihuahua named Bruiser. Saeger loves being outdoors in nature as much as possible, including hiking and camping. He is constantly at music shows and festivals when his schedule allows and he still has family in Bethlehem, so he’s frequently visiting the greater Philadelphia area.
He would love to continue his career working in a medical setting with adults. “I am a former musician and I have a passion for the voice,” said Saeger. “Ultimately my goal is to have a mixture of both, a structured medical setting where I work for an organization and also have my own private practice on the side where I can do voice therapy.”