A work of devotion: Newly retired speech-language pathologist reflects on passionate career at ISTAR

Elizabeth Haynes, who joined ISTAR in 2002, played an integral role in opening the Calgary clinic

Jon Pullin - 03 September 2019

When newly retired speech-language pathologist Elizabeth Haynes looks back on her career, she often feels as though life was nudging her in the right direction.

During her second year of university, her father pushed her to think about her career.

"He was a physician and introduced me to a speech-language pathologist at the hospital where he worked. I thought 'this could be interesting'. It combined health care with language, which I liked. So I decided to give it a try."

The Kamloops, BC, native started her undergraduate degree at a local college, transferred to the University of Victoria and finished up at Western Washington University. She was then accepted to a two-year master's program.

"After I graduated, there weren't many jobs in BC. I heard through a friend that there were jobs in Alberta, so I thought I would move there for a couple of years to get some experience and then move back to BC. And here I am, still in Calgary many years later," says Haynes with a laugh.

Haynes first worked at the Calgary General Hospital and then with the Calgary Health Region (now Alberta Health Services) before moving to the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research (ISTAR) in 2002.

"I think I've known about ISTAR since becoming involved with speech. It was very well known. At one of my speech practicum placements in Victoria, we did a version of ISTAR's Comprehensive Stuttering Program. I ended up meeting people from ISTAR at speech conferences," says Haynes. "Then in 2002, Deborah Kully, one of the founders of ISTAR, asked me if I would be interested in applying for a position with them in Edmonton."

Haynes took the position and worked in Edmonton for three years before she and Kully started talking about opening an office in Calgary, which happened in 2006. They started in the back of a hearing loss clinic and moved several times throughout their venture. Today, they have their own downtown clinic.

"Everyone at ISTAR is so committed-the dean, the staff, everyone at the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. It's a really unique thing. I don't think there's anything like ISTAR in Canada that's associated with a university faculty."

For Haynes, ISTAR has been a work of devotion. One of the benefits of being a part of ISTAR is that she gets to see her clients grow.

"I love seeing my clients make progress. They're so brave, challenging themselves to speak when speaking is already hard. Especially the clients that stutter and have experienced teasing or bullying because of it. I watch children go from avoiding talking to being little chatterboxes," says Haynes. "My favourite thing is meeting a child I worked with when they're older and they don't even remember that they stuttered."

While Haynes plans to travel and write in her retirement, she won't be stepping away from speech therapy entirely.

"I'm hoping to continue my association with ISTAR through training students and mentoring younger speech pathologists."

To her colleagues at ISTAR, Haynes offers encouragement to continue their mission: "Keep on doing the work you're doing. You're changing lives and it's important work.

And to other SLPs thinking of working with ISTAR: it's not scary, it's actually really rewarding. The clients are so courageous. Go for it-do a practicum and learn all you can."

Congratulations to Elizabeth Haynes on her August 30, 2019 retirement!