Medical Speech Pathology

Curiosity, Dialogue, and Knowledge

Dr. Gary McCullough


Gary McCullough, Ph.D., CCC-SLP  is an associate professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Central Arkansas.  He has served on program committees and best practice guideline committees for the American Speech-Language Hearing Association as well as the International Dysphagia Research Society and has been awarded research grants by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs to investigate evaluation and treatment tools for individuals who suffer from swallowing problems post-stroke.

Interview Questions and Answers

1. What got you interested in doing research in this field?

I was working as a clinical fellow at the VA Medical Center in Nashville, TN, and everyone in audiology and speech had a PhD and conducted research in some form or fashion. It appeared to me that clinic and research went hand in hand. It occurs to me now that it doesn’t but probably should.

2. What was or is your most interesting research project and why?

Probably the research I am doing right now in voice because I’m learning on the fly. I’ve worked clinically with voice disorders for some time now, but once you start conducting research in something you become, by necessity, more rigorous with how you define terms and how you view what you do…which leads me back to research and clinic should go hand in hand.

3. What area(s) in medical speech pathology need the most research now?

We don’t have enough treatment studies in anything. This is largely because they are very hard to do and require funding, which is hard to get.

4. What is the most important advice you could give to a new clinician starting in the medical field?

Get a good CFY. I tell all my students that. It’s critical. It changed my career path completely. I would also recommend that if they ever start to feel comfortable with what they are doing they should rethink it until they realize it was a false sense of comfort.

5. Who did you look up to the most as you were beginning your career?

None of them are actually taller than me, but I looked up to Jay Rosenbek, Terry Wertz, JoAnne Robbins, and Mike Crary. As I age, I’ve found that I’m gradually shrinking, so I’m looking up to more people.

6. Do you believe SLPs should move to the Clinical Doctorate for entry level into the medical field?

I’m not a big fan of increasing schooling and costs to make no more money. Nor am I a fan of everyone in the world having a doctorate, as it seems to detract a bit from the value of the traditional MD and PhD. I’m also worried that clinical doctorates will decrease the number of PhDs and, in turn, deplete the amount and quality of research in our profession. That being said, it may be inevitable as we strive to keep up with our rehabilitation colleagues.

7. How can we incentivize more therapists to pursue the PhD?

Universities aren’t going to be raising salaries anytime soon, and research funds are more and more difficult to obtain, so I doubt there will be more financial incentives. I think we have to sell it rather than incentivize it. Rather than promising people something for themselves, I think we need to teach our students how quality clinical care is dependent on quality research and if they want to really give back, then great research gets the biggest bang for the buck. You can help your patient and everyone else’s patient, too. Than again, a free koozie couldn’t hurt.

8. What is the most exciting advancement in Speech Pathology that you have seen in the past few years?

There are so many things. I’m excited to see how SLPs have successfully fought for the right to perform nasoendoscopic exams–most places. I think it’s exciting to see the technology of treatment advancing our outreach with telemedicine and internet apps. With all of these advances will come pitfalls, but there will be more good than bad to arise from technology. We’ll place your website in that good column.

9. How long have you worked in the field?

I started my CFY in 1993, so that’s closing in on the two decade mark.

10. What is a good book or research article about medical speech pathology that you would recommend?

The best text in our profession to my knowledge is Joe Duffy’s book on Motor Speech Disorders. It provides knowledge for medical speech pathology that is essential and well-constructed for learning.

2 comments on “Dr. Gary McCullough

  1. Sabina Barac
    October 30, 2015

    Could you explain what CFY is-for us non Americans!

    • Admin
      October 30, 2015

      CFY = clinical fellowship year- a 9 month time when you have a clinical mentor before you receive your clinical certificate from ASHA (our national governing body)

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