About me

———Photo Credit: Jennifer Cogswell 2019———- Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

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, rehabilitation centers and home care, and then I switched to acute-care (hospitals) in 1999. I obtained my BCS-S (Board Certified Specialist in Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders) in August of 2012. In 2014, I started SwallowStudy.com as an evidence-based resource for healthcare professionals and people with difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). In 2014-2015, I trained with SEC Medical in Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES), and I have been performing Videofluoroscopic Swallow Studies since 1999. I currently work at two different hospitals in the Boston area, own my own dysphagia consulting business, perform peer reviews and presentations, and provide dysphagia expert services to companies and law firms.

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). I am a committee member of the Website, Communications and Public Relations Committee of the Dysphagia Research Society (DRS), and I also sit on the Public Relations committee for the American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (ABSSD). I do love to hype-up dysphagia awareness!

Special interests include: neurological conditions, esophageal dysphagia, geriatrics, end-of-life considerations, oral hygiene (aka, oral infection control) and aspiration pneumonia, and patient safety and risk management. 

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 and online seminars, to dental students at the Tufts University Dental School, on Lateral Medullary Syndrome at the 2011 ASHA Convention, and on The Platinum Standard of Personalized Medicine for Dysphagia Evaluation & Management at the 2018 ASHA Convention. See more details on my CV on my other website: www.KarenSheffler.com (that website provides information on my services). 

In addition to teaching, I am committed to life-long-learning. I have received the ASHA Award for Continuing Education (ACE) six times.

Why I started SwallowStudy.com:

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 and started SwallowStudy.com in May 2014.

I hope this website is a useful resource for professionals working in the field of dysphagia and for people with swallowing disorders. I want to promote a positive exchange of knowledge, ideas and innovation. I strive to be a translational researcher/clinician, taking new evidence from hard-working research labs and translating it or disseminating it to the clinicians out in the facilities working with people who struggle every day to swallow safely. 


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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