Interview with a Researcher – Katlyn McGrattan, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

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Please give a brief background:  (Employment, interests of study, special honors/certifications etc.)

Taken from Dr. McGrattan’s page off University of Minnesota’s website:

“My research focuses on the identification and treatment of perturbations in upper aerodigestive physiology that impede an infant’s ability to successfully breathe and orally feed. As part of this line I have worked in the development of non-invasive diagnostic technologies designed to guide precise and personalized dysphagia care among infants born premature, those with congenital heart defects, and those suffering from chronic respiratory deficits.”

Educational Background: Ph.D. from Health & Rehabilitation Science at the Medical University of South Carolina with specialties in pediatric aerodigestive physiology and dysphagia for medically fragile infants. 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏


If you could conduct any research study on any topic/issue (meaning money/funding, time, subjects, IRB, etc. are NOT a problem!), what would it be? In other words, what’s your dream study?!

Oh, that’s an easy one! I use videofluoroscopy and high-resolution manometry on healthy non-dysphagic infants to better understand ‘normal’ swallowing in infants just like they have done in adults. I feel one of the biggest barriers to moving forward in our field is our lack of understanding normal 🙂

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If you could change one thing about having to do research, what would it be?

My biggest frustration in research is the time required to take something from a clinical problem to an evidence-based solution, so I would change that! Overall, writing grants takes a long time, and then getting them funded takes even longer. Once you do that, all of the hurdles that make research slow to execute and disseminate just add to this further, and in the end limit the help we can provide to patients who need it.👏👏👏


What’s one thing you think clinicians should be excited about in our field regarding research?

There seems to be a new surge of really bright researchers interested in pediatric dysphagia and that is amazing🤩!! I think for a long time pediatrics only had a few leaders trying their best to advance the field (they did great), but there is power in numbers!


What’s one thing you think researchers should be excited about in our field regarding clinical practice?

The same in reverse! It seems like there are a lot of clinicians entering graduate school with a desire to work in pediatric dysphagia, and very interested in doing whatever possible to educate themselves to provide the best patient care. As a researcher, the idea of having clinicians implement what I have found to be helpful to improve patient care is so exciting; it’s why I do what I do!🥰

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I feel the Results section of studies can be the most misunderstood or difficult to navigate through, what tidbits or tips/tricks can you share to help clinicians process these sections?

Try not to get stuck in all of the details. Sometimes Results sections are very dense, with tons of information presented. Focus on the outcomes that are more important to you and your clinical practice and follow those throughout.😉


Could you pick one technical jargon (e.g. “linear regression” “ANOVA” “two-tailed test” etc.)  to explain in a relatable and easily understandable way (real-life, simple examples get bonus points😉)?

Power: We talk a lot about finding a ‘significant difference’ between outcomes in studies. For example, do babies have improved ventilation when drinking from a slow flow nipple when compared to a standard flow? However, if a researcher does not have enough participants in the study, they may not detect this difference even if it exists. To ensure you are including enough participants you need to run a ‘power analyses’ which uses pilot data to determine how many participants you need to be able to detect a difference if it exists. 

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What’s the ONE thing you think is important for practicing clinicians to know/understand when reading research?

Do not get bogged down in the statistical methods. If it is peer-reviewed and in a good journal, you should feel comfortable that experts already checked all of this for you.🤓


What’s ONE thing you think is important for researchers to know/understand about clinical practice?

The outliers count. In research, we focus on averages and trends of groups without much attention to individual subjects. In clinical practice, there are outliers that matter. 

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What is something you believe researchers could do better to #bridgethegap?

Provide more accessible presentations of their research linked with the actual manuscript.👍👍


What is something you believe clinicians could do better to #bridgethegap?

Take 1 hour a week to read a new research article.🤓

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Can you provide your contact email if clinicians want to reach out? (Honors system for everyone to be respectful of your time)



Of course a big thanks to Dr. McGrattan for continuing to facilitate needed research in this specialized area and for all her information!🙌🙌

Hajnarus — I want to thanks all your support and kind inboxes...

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