Tin Yan Chan, Speech Language Pathologist

Tin Yan's Career Journey at MGH

Tell us about yourself!

Hi, I’m Tin Yan Chan and I am a Speech-Language Pathologist in the COVID/Medicine and Surgery Units at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH). I have been working at MGH for four years now.

What motivated you to join MGH?

I was motivated to join MGH because of the people. I initially learned about MGH from a couple of Speech-Language Pathology (S-LP) colleagues I worked with at another organization. They were always talking about how much they enjoyed the culture and the teams at MGH. At the time, I had already worked in several acute care hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area, so I did not think MGH would be any different.  As soon as I started working here, I could feel the distinct sense of community and strong commitment to patient care. The team spirit at MGH is stronger than at any of my previous workplaces.

Over the years, my family and I have been recipients of many services that MGH provides. During the height of the pandemic, I was truly impressed by MGH’s community outreach – from personal phone calls from doctors, to vaccine clinic accessibility to take-home COVID-19 PCR test kits at public schools. I can honestly say I feel comfortable as a patient here and I trust the staff here. I am proud to tell people that I am a part of the MGH team! 

What types of learning, mentorship or professional development opportunities have you had the opportunity to pursue since joining MGH?

I am privileged to work in a department with extremely skilled and talented S-LPs who are constantly seeking to optimize the quality of patient care. Recently, I completed the IDEA Foundations of Quality Improvement (QI) program at the University of Toronto. I have also been collaborating with my manager, Katherine Vandenbussche, on developing a questionnaire to explore current practice patterns of interprofessional team members in dysphagia management. I am now supervising a group of student S-LPs from McMaster University as part of the Evidence-Based Practice course. The students have helped to distribute the questionnaire and are in the process of analyzing the responses. The results will hopefully guide future QI projects and clinical research studies, further improving patient safety and quality of life.

Can you share your career path at MGH?

2018: I came onboard as a part-time S-LP and my role was mainly to provide float coverage across a number of inpatient units. Some areas such as Medicine and Intensive Care were familiar to me, but other areas such as Provincial Prolonged-Ventilation Weaning and Palliative Care were completely new to me, so it was a very exciting time of new learnings and opportunities.

2019: I gave birth to my son at MGH!

2020: I returned to work around the third wave of the pandemic. I have been working in the COVID/Medicine Unit and the Surgery Units. I have continued to provide coverage on other units in acute care, as well as in the Helen Aird Carswell Complex Continuing Care Unit and Palliative Care Unit.

What motivates/inspires you?

I have always had an interest in quality improvement and clinical research. I feel extremely fortunate to have received support from my managers and Clinical Resource Leader to pursue QI and clinical research opportunities. My colleague said it best, “Speech-Language Pathologists drive high quality patient care. It is a privilege for us to be able to optimize people’s communication and swallowing function.”

I am inspired by my teams and my patients and their families every day. I want to make sure that I personalize the care of every patient and enhance their experience at MGH.

If you could share one memorable moment from your time at MGH, what stands out to you?

I worked with a patient for four months in acute care. He was a very complicated case and upon admission to the hospital he was unable to eat, drink or initiate speech. I worked with him on regaining his abilities to swallow and speak. It was during the pandemic, so each time we met I was wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). A lot of the focus initially was on swallowing/oral diet. About half way through his stay, he asked me, “So when am I going to see the speech therapist?” and we had a laugh because he thought I was the dietitian the entire time. I saw him for about 20 sessions in total which included clinical swallowing assessments, X-ray swallowing tests and practice on speech/communication strategies.

He was eventually discharged to rehab and at that time, he was able to eat full meals and carry conversations. A few months later, he was readmitted to MGH and re-referred to S-LP. As soon as I walked into his room to greet him, he said, “Hi Tin, how are you?” I was so touched that he remembered me despite the PPE and all the life changing events he went through. When he was finally leaving MGH to go home, we joked that we wished to never see each other again. I truly wish this patient all the best and am grateful that I was able to be a part of his care.

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