Robert “Bob” Serianni, MS, CCC-SLP, clinical director of the Speech-Language Institute (SLI) and assistant professor in the University’s Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program is at his core a people-person – which is most likely one of the top reasons why he is successful in his profession. After 18 years as a speech pathologist, Serianni switched to academia a few years ago, and is ready to take on his next challenge as president of the Pennsylvania Speech-Language-Hearing Association (PSHA).
PSHA, the state branch of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), is a professional organization comprised of speech-language pathologists, audiologists and teachers of the hearing impaired. According to the PSHA website, the organization provides information about effective programs and services in communication disorders and other fields. It also works to inform the public about the profession, careers, programs and services within the field of communication disorders.
Serianni was recently nominated by PSHA members and is slated to start his new term as president elect in July of this year. The three-year term coincides with a different position each year: president elect, president, and immediate past president. As president elect, Serianni will prepare for his upcoming year as president, with little assignments. When he becomes president during his second year, he’ll meet with constituents, legislatures, and help direct policy for the state association. During the final year, he’ll work with the student organization that is attached to PSHA, as a guide to student leadership that participates on the board. This may be the position he is most excited about as it aligns closely with what he currently handles at Salus University, which is working with students to be more qualified practitioners, critical thinkers, and to be empathetic caregivers.
While the national association, ASHA, sets the benchmarks for the overarching industry, it’s up to the state organizations to facilitate the information to practitioners within each state. “It’s very important that I am involved as a professor, because it helps me guide practice and guide communication of practice for the students [at Salus] so they realize that their job isn’t just to evaluate and treat patients/students/clients, but really to advocate for the profession and build on our responsibilities or protect our responsibilities,” said Serianni.
At first, he wasn’t sure if he had enough breadth of experience to accept the nomination, but after talking to a past president, he realizes there’s a lot he can bring to the table. As it is, Serianni has been a member of PSHA for more than 15 years, and is currently vice president of membership and ethical practices. Prior to being the clinical director of the Speech-Language Institute, Serianni was a speech-language pathologist practitioner for 18 years at a local healthcare business, where he understood the needs of clinicians and learned best practices at the same time. Now working in SLP academia, he understands what the new generations of speech pathologists are seeking, and Serianni hopes as president that he can guide PSHA to respond. “I hope to give them – and us – a sense of purpose [and] that it really becomes a group for the people,” he said.
When Serianni made the jump from SLP practitioner to SLP academia, it was because he felt the call to make an impact on more lives. Through Salus, he indirectly serves patients by making sure that the next generation of clinicians has the knowledge and skills to impact lives as well “I can impact the quality of life for multiple people, through multiple generations of speech pathologists,” he said. When Serianni joined the University’s faculty, he realized that being on the committees and board of PSHA were a compliment to his service to the University and could potentially be another platform to promote the Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program.
It appears that being the next president of PSHA fits naturally into Serianni’s advancing career, and the University may very well benefit from his leadership as well. He is already thinking of possible outcomes: “This may drive up admissions and attract different faculty to the program. It might even give our students different opportunities for leadership and volunteering – not just in the immediate area, but across the state.”