On 16th of October 2014 the Center of Voice for Professionals was established in Warsaw. Six years have passed since its opening. The summary of these past six years was made by prof. Agata Szkiełkowska, MD, PhD, otolaryngologist, audiologist and phoniatrist as well as the head of the facility. She also explained why working on the voice is so important.
Let us recall that the Center of Voice for Professionals is a facility that offers comprehensive medical care to people for whom voice is a working tool. It is the first such a place in Poland. The team of specialists working in the center brings together otolaryngologists, audiologists, phoniatres, speech therapists, psychologists, voice therapists and physiotherapists who provide patients with diagnostics, therapy and rehabilitation services. In other words, their task is to fully protect and treat patients’ voices in a multi-faceted manner.
October 16th marks the sixth anniversary of the Center of for Professionals in Warsaw. How do you evaluate the functioning of this facility over the last 6 years?
AS: In fact, the inspiration to create the Center of Voice for Professionals were the patients themselves. They work with their voice on a daily basis, and in fact they gave us the impulse to organize a center that would provide them with professional help and comprehensive care. From the perspective of the last 6 years, I think it was a great idea. And it is not only my subjective opinion, but mainly the opinions of patients who are very pleased that there is a place where they can always obtain this help and comprehensive care. We often act as an ambulance, because help must be given immediately, here and now, often just before a concert, performance or other event requiring good communication skills. This brings us many nervous moments, but also a lot of satisfaction, because our actions are effective.
Who are your patients most often?
Artists constitute 90% of our patients. Among them, vocalists from the entertainment industry as well as classical music performers dominate. Famous Polish actors and politicians are another quite numerous group. A large group of patients are teachers, lecturers, translators, as well as students and students of music schools. They are the main beneficiaries of our services.
There are more and more patients. Paradoxically, from the point of view of our patients the fact that the facility is small is a great asset. That is because our center often helps patients who are very recognizable people. Not always you would like to share with others about your voice disorder that could indicate a dysfunction or indisposition. That is why we usually see patients for an hour and we really care about the intimacy a lot. Thanks to it, the patients can share and address their problems only to the doctor, in the comfortable and closed office.
What about those who use their voice less often in their work? Should they also care about their voice?
AS: Yes, definitely yes. In the past, the voice and the need to train it was associated with professions where it is actually used on a daily basis. Today, however, correct communication and verbal communication are often a measure of the professional success. We have to present ourselves well not only visually, but also in interpersonal contacts. We need to have a nice voice, we need to know how to speak. It is extremely important now. The circle of interest outside of a strictly professional groups is getting wider. Our patients are also people who work in large corporations, receptionists, Call Center employees, i.e., again, those for whom the voice is a tool in their daily work. Generally speaking, the people who use it on a daily basis should take care of the voice, that is, in fact – each of us. Voice is the most important element in our daily communication. It has an extremely large social and communication dimension, i.e. it performs this basic social function. Do not forget that the voice is an individual trait that changes with the aging of the whole body. And yet, our lives are now getting longer, what reflects the fact that we want to be more and more active not only in life, but also professionally and we want to use our voice correctly.
However, probably not everyone is aware of the need to take care of the voice.
AS: It’s true. In my opinion, nowadays unfortunately, this awareness is not high enough. Of course, it is much better among people who work with the voice. That is obvious. However, there is very little awareness in society, what is a pity because many diseases could have been avoided if the level of its awareness had been higher. Sooner or later, neglecting the voice will take revenge on us, because a number of diseases in the voice organ is related to the action. So, for example, the ubiquitous stress that surrounds us, in a moment will take its toll. Over the last decade, I have already observed an avalanche of psychogenic, stress-related and rush-related functional disorders in our everyday life. And, unfortunately, we will reap even more of it in a moment. And in the era of Covid, the associated stress and fear “of tomorrow”, the incidence rate of this type of disease will increase. Therefore, it is worth to start taking care of your voice as soon as possible.