About me

Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S is a Board Certified Specialist in Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders with over 20 years of experience in medical speech-language pathology

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1995 with my Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. There, I was influenced by great mentors in the field of swallowing and swallowing disorders (dysphagia) like Jay Rosenbek, JoAnne Robbins, and James Coyle. Once the “dysphagia-bug” bit, I have never looked back. Initially, I worked in skilled nursing facilities and rehabilitation centers, but now I have been in acute care since 1999. I have trained with SEC Medical in Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES). I obtained my BCS-S (Board Certified Specialist in Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders) in August of 2012. I am a member of the Dysphagia Research Society, the Special Interest Group 13: Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders, and the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders (NFOSD). 

Special interests include: neurological conditions, esophageal dysphagia, geriatrics, end-of-life considerations, oral hygiene and aspiration pneumonia, and patient safety/risk management. I am committed to life-long-learning. I was awarded my 4th ASHA Award for Continuing Education (ACE) May 2016.

I love teaching. I contributed to the field of Speech-Language Pathology by continuously accepting graduate student interns for 3-6 month placements from 2000 to 2013. I have lectured on various topics in dysphagia in the hospital setting, in live webinars, to dental students at the Tufts University Dental School, and on Lateral Medullary Syndrome at the 2011 ASHA Convention.

The 2014 ASHA Business and Healthcare Institute was an inspiration. Adele Cehrs, CEO of Epic PR Group, encouraged us seasoned clinicians to take risks and become thought leaders in our field. She reminded us that technology is not a choice anymore, so I jumped in! I started SwallowStudy.com in May 2014.

I have blogs published on DysphagiaCafe.com, ASHAsphere (blog.asha.org), Graymattertherapy.com,  Medbridge.com and more. I was the official dysphagia blogger at ASHA 2014 and for the annual meeting of the Dysphagia Research Society in 2015 and 2016 (#DRS2016).

I hope this website is a useful resource for professionals working in the field of dysphagia and for people with swallowing disorders. I strive to promote a positive exchange of knowledge, ideas and innovation.


Thank you to my former SLP graduate intern, Paulina Franco, who helped me tremendously in 2014, especially in learning the wonders of social media.


Paulina Franco received her Master of Science degree in Communication Disorders from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts in May 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics and a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences & Disorders from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Food and liquid can be easily aspirated as the tube that takes air into lungs needs to be tightly and quickly sealed up when swallowing food, liquid, or saliva.
Swallowing: it is not always as easy as we think! That is why we can made a career out of it.
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