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 Montpelier Magazine

JMUWorks: A series about workplaces -- and fun places -- peopled by JMU

This time: Walter Reed Army Medical Center

There are only five speech pathologists in the Audiology and Speech Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and four of them are JMU grads. Laura Weiland Battiata ('94, '95M), Kimberly Meadows ('98, '00M), Katie Walsh ('95, '97M) and Kirsten Powell ('96, '97M) all have jobs in one of the most prestigious medical centers in the country.

"It's a great place to work," says Battiata. "Walter Reed treats all ages, and we get an interesting population -- military and dependents -- so we get everything from young, brain-injured patients from parachute accidents to strokes or head and neck cancer patients. I've been here since 1995, first as a student, then an intern and now as a staff member. I brought Katie on as a graduate student."

Battiata, Meadows and Walsh are adult speech pathologists, and Powell is a pediatric speech pathologist. Walsh recruited Meadows while Battiata was out on maternity leave, and she recommended that Powell apply for a job at the medical center when a position became available.

"We are in close contact with Dr. Charles Runyan [director of JMU's speech pathology department], so we ask him if there are any good people he can recommend," Battiata says. "JMU has a great speech department and it prepared us well to work in a hospital setting. We like to recruit JMU grads because we know they are smart and yet fun, laid back and team players."

Battiata and Walsh both completed internships at Walter Reed while studying at JMU. "Almost every year, a JMU graduate student completes an internship at Walter Reed," Walsh says. "Laura stayed on, and I left, but came back because Walter Reed is such an amazing hospital."

In addition to sharing the same alma mater, Walsh was Meadows' sign language teacher at JMU. The two were members of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority and became friends. They stayed in touch after graduation, and when a job became available at Walter Reed, Walsh thought of Meadows.

"Now we work together and socialize," Meadows says. "She has a house at Dewey Beach that we go to, and we go out to dinner and to happy hours occasionally."

Meadows feels fortunate to be at Walter Reed because she can concentrate on patient care rather than paperwork. "The way the funding works for military members, you don't have to fight with the insurance companies," she says. "If a patient needs something, you can get it."

Another benefit to working in speech pathology at Walter Reed is the camaraderie enjoyed by the Madison quartet. "It's great to work in an environment where you are challenged by clinical and professional growth, and yet where you are also all great friends," Powell says. "We are all outgoing and have fun together, but we are very serious about our jobs, and we all really care about our patients."


Sande Snead Fulk ('82)