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In Part 2 of this interview, we talk with Julie Irwin MA, CCC-SLP and Kurt Keena MA, CCC-SLP about their experiences as travel therapists and advice they have for first-time travelers.

Julie Irwin MA, CCC-SLP: @julieeirwin –
Kurt Keena MA, CCC-SLP: @kurt.keena –

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Episode Transcript

Jennifer Martin: Hello everyone and welcome to SLP Full disclosure, I’m hoping you listened to the last episode. If you did, you were able to get to know Kurt Keena and Julie Irwin who are two amazing SLPs and they were just sharing their experiences as being SLPs that have worked in a variety of settings and what that’s been like and how you’re never stuck. You’re never pigeonholed. So, that was wonderful you guys.

And now we want to switch topics a little bit and talk to them about travel therapy because they have both been travel therapists for several years and have many great experiences with that. So, I think first just where Julie, you mentioned in the last episode that you wanted to do this after grad school. Where did you hear about it? How was it on your radar?

Julie Irwin:                    I truly don’t know the answer to that. I just remember so vividly it, my hometown you can walk anywhere into a downtown and I must have found Advanced or some company on an ad. And I started getting all these phone calls and I was at this cute little coffee shop in town and I got a call from a recruiter from this company and she was like, “Hi, I see you’re interested.” And I was like, “I wasn’t, but now I am. Tell me more about it.”

                                    And the thought of traveling, and going outside my comfort zone, and being somewhere temporarily long enough to get to know the place but not too long that I’d feel stuck was really appealing to me. And being able to know that I could switch settings and really get to know who I am and what I want was really appealing to me. Especially because at, how old were we? 24?

Kurt Keena:                   Yeah.

Julie Irwin:                    I had no idea who I was. I had no idea of what I wanted and I was in the sense of exploration period where I just wanted to dive in and get to know what was going to make me happy and keep me in this career long-term. And so the idea of traveling was really appealing.

Jennifer Martin:            And so when she brought it up to you Kurt, was your first thought, “What is that?” Or had you heard of it also?

Kurt Keena:                   I really don’t think I had heard of it. I don’t know how it wasn’t even on our radar in grad school. Nobody ever told us about it. So, but as soon as she said it I said, “Okay, where are we going?”

Julie Irwin:                    Oh I do remember. I was on and it was an ad where the money was like four times more than any of the other posts and I was like, “Okay.”

Jennifer Martin:            You got my attention.

Julie Irwin:                    Yeah.

Jennifer Martin:            Tell me more.

Julie Irwin:                    So I clicked on it. And I was like, “What is this?” Because it is not something that was advertised for us in undergrad or graduate school. And our graduate program has since asked us to come back and talk about it or consult with students who are interested in it, which has been great because I’m a huge supporter for this and I think everyone should, when I find out that people haven’t, I’m like, “Oh-“

Kurt Keena:                   Bummer.

Julie Irwin:                    “… bummer.”

Kurt Keena:                   It’s kind of like pity. Oh, you settled into a job?

Jennifer Martin:            Like the same one?

Kurt Keena:                   What are you thinking? You’re in your twenties.

Julie Irwin:                    And I get there’s perks of that too, but there’s just so much out there that this career path lets us-

Kurt Keena:                   Especially if you haven’t traveled the country at all, or especially if you haven’t worked in different settings, maybe you think that a school is where you belong. Or maybe you think that a hospital is where you belong and you could be dead wrong. You might not even know what joy you can discover in a different placement until you do something new.

Jennifer Martin:            And were your personalities such before making this decision? I know you said you’re the thought and then you’re the action. So were you both, you know, would you consider yourself to be adventurous people? Was this kind of a leap out of your comfort zone?

Julie Irwin:                    I think this took my family by surprise. I’ve always felt it within myself, and I loved vacationing and I went away to college and I studied abroad in Denmark. And so when I was in Denmark, I went to 16 other countries. So I loved just getting to learn more about the world, culture, food, beautiful sights, being outdoors. And so I knew I had that. Now, I didn’t think I had the guts to move 3,000 miles away. And I really only did it because I was in a fight with my parents. I usually have such a nice, I love being home.

                                    My family is so great, and we get along. We have family dinner every night. We do fun activities, and we were in such a fight that went on for two weeks that I actually took this job in Washington without telling them. And the night before I was like, “Oops, I need the car. I’m moving.”

Jennifer Martin:            I’ll show you.

Julie Irwin:                    And they were like, “What? By yourself?” I was like, “Oh no, Kurt’s coming.” But that was the only big fight I’ve ever had with my family and it turned out for the best.

Kurt Keena:                   It really did.

Jennifer Martin:            They probably were like, “I guess we shouldn’t argue with her because this doesn’t end well.”

Kurt Keena:                   She leaves.

Jennifer Martin:            Like 3000 miles. Right?

Julie Irwin:                    That was the fuel I needed because when things are happy, go lucky, which they typically are at home, I had no interest in leaving. I Love New Jersey. I love the East Coast, the hospitals there, and the opportunities there are vast being I live eight miles outside of New York City, so there’s so much for us to do there. But opening that door for us and going to Washington, I could not imagine my life had we stayed. Could you?

Kurt Keena:                   No.

Julie Irwin:                    Yeah.

Kurt Keena:                   No, I mean, I always felt like I didn’t belong in New Jersey. I love my family and I love my friends there, but I never felt like this is where I’m always going to be. And then when we went to grad school and they told us our license when we got out of grad school would be for New Jersey, I was like, “Ugh, I guess I’m kind of stuck.”

                                    And then Julie was like, “No, we can leave. Let’s do travel therapy.” And I was like, “Are we leaving tomorrow? Let’s go.” But, again, before grad school, I mean before getting a job out of grad school, never really had the money to do too much traveling.

                                    I did take two trips to Spain, one before grad school and one after. And had done a little bit of traveling in high school, but nothing too extreme, but always loved it. And any opportunity I ever could take to travel I took. But yeah, I was ready to go as soon as Julie mentioned it and far. I was like, “Let’s go as far as we can.”

Jennifer Martin:            Alaska.

Kurt Keena:                   Yeah. Almost.

Julie Irwin:                    What was unique for us is we finished graduate school in November and couldn’t get our license until March. So we had that whole period where we could not work.

Kurt Keena:                   Yeah.

Julie Irwin:                    At least licensed. Like we could get a job. I think I worked at a gym, I was the towel girl.

Kurt Keena:                   You were the towel girl.

Julie Irwin:                    Yes.

Kurt Keena:                   I was a translator.

Julie Irwin:                    And I was just applying for jobs like crazy and things weren’t as high performing as we were. I really thought it would be easy for us to get a job and when that wasn’t happening, that’s kind of when I opened my mind to the idea of travel and seeing that there were droughts everywhere else. I was like, let’s go. We can always come back to New Jersey, but there’s so much to do elsewhere.

Kurt Keena:                   And I had really never seen, I had seen the East Coast because I’ve traveled with my family up and down the East Coast, but, and I had been to Kansas once. But I’d never seen the west. I’d never seen the beauty out here, how different the landscape is.

                                    I mean, I really am not a safe driver when the landscape is nice. Luckily my car beeps at me when I leave the lane now, but I just-

Julie Irwin:                    It didn’t a few years ago.

Kurt Keena:                   It didn’t a few years ago when I was taking pictures in that. Okay. But yeah, it’s just incredible how beautiful it is out here and how much there is to see in the United States. I had traveled a little bit before, like I said, but always outside of the US. I never realized what I had here. I never realized the opportunity as a therapist to just get, it’s not that hard to get, well it’s hard, but it can be done to get licensed in another state. It’s a pain in the butt.

Jennifer Martin:            It’s a process. it’s a process.

Julie Irwin:                    It’s a process but not hard.

Kurt Keena:                   It can be done.

Julie Irwin:                    But I think we are enlightening a lot of people, both therapists and not to use the US as a travel destination. People are like, “This is in the United States? Where are you?” I’m like, “Yes, there is so much to see. Get in your car. Start driving.”

Speaker 1:                    It’s a big country.

Julie Irwin:                    Yes.

Kurt Keena:                   It’s huge.

Alyssa Hunter:              So where are all the places that you guys have actually worked? I know you’ve probably traveled… Well, you’ve been to 45 states, right?

Julie Irwin:                    Yes.

Alyssa Hunter:              But where are the places you’ve actually had assignments?

Julie Irwin:                    I just had assignments in Washington State. I worked in New York and New Jersey. And then I’ve, this is my fifth contract in Colorado. So, I have fallen in love with this state and I would-

Alyssa Hunter:              I don’t blame you so have I.

Julie Irwin:                    I know. And I will ultimately be here to stay. But while I’m not tied down, I think the route is to keep doing contract work.

Jennifer Martin:            I will live through you. And so you guys touched on this or you did Julie, that your family was like what? What was your family’s biggest sticking point where they were like, “What?” Were they concerned? Worried? What was the reaction?

Julie Irwin:                    I think it’s the how fast the processes. Like you get your license and they’re like, “Okay, you start in two weeks.” And you have to start driving. So it was like moving without having that adjustment period of being like, “Let’s all have a goodbye and have a nice dinner celebration or have all of your friends here.” It was a very rapid process for me. And I think that scared them. And also housing is a little intimidating. I luckily found this red barn and I was like, I will live here. And I did.

                                    And I am a big fan of Airbnb. That’s where I find a lot in my housing because it allows me to just bring clothing with me. But I think that also scared my parents. Like, “You’re going to live in someone’s house, you’ve never met them. You are going to move across the country. Did you get an oil change?”

                                    It was like all these little things. But ultimately they were happy and by the end of it, I mean, every weekend they were like send us every picture. And my Dad was blowing up pictures of all of my adventures and like sending them to me. I’m like, “Dad, I have them on my phone.”

Speaker 1:                    Dad I’m here. Dad I’m here now.

Julie Irwin:                    I think they’ve grown to love it too because they’ve seen how happy I am and how much I’ve transformed because it is transformative. I was this sheltered, pretty timid person. And now I’ve taken contracts in states I’ve never been to by myself without Kurt. And it’s been a huge growth mindset and process for me.

Kurt Keena:                   Yeah. My family probably, I don’t know. They’ve always known that I was going to leave because I’ve probably said it since birth, but-

Jennifer Martin:            I’m out of here.

Kurt Keena:                   But it’s still not easy. I know, especially for my mom, every time I say goodbye it’s rough. We both kind of tear up but we know that I’ll be back and she knows that I’m doing what makes me happy and that excites her. And same for my dad. I mean, I’ve lived with my dad quite a bit and I’m even sad leaving him because I think we make great roommates but he knows that I’m living adventures and I’m doing what makes me happy every single day. So it’s not too bad.

                                    I mean, the goodbye is bad, but it’s three months and maybe I’ll come back at the end of it. This time I’m not, but they can always come see me. You know, you can come.

Jennifer Martin:            Goes both ways.

Kurt Keena:                   Yeah it does. It does.

Jennifer Martin:            So you’ve worked, oh states, and have you worked in all the same ones?

Kurt Keena:                   So Washington we did together. Then we both went home to New Jersey. Julie came out to Colorado. I was still in New Jersey. Eventually I got out and I went to St. Louis.

Julie Irwin:                    So that’s our only difference, St. Louis.

Kurt Keena:                   Yeah just St. Louis.

Julie Irwin:                    And New York, but I was still living in New Jersey when I went there.

Kurt Keena:                   Right.

Jennifer Martin:            So how would this, I mean, looking at this, you guys have had each other for most of this.

Julie Irwin:                    Mm-hmm.

Jennifer Martin:            And I know it’s probably hard to compare because you’ve had each other for most of this, but there’s times when you haven’t those few contracts. Is it still have the same amount of excitement and fun?

Kurt Keena:                   My first month in St Louis, I loved that… I still love that city. I really, really love St Louis. But my first month there, because I didn’t have any friends or family there other than Julie’s aunt and uncle-

Julie Irwin:                    Who took Kurt.

Kurt Keena:                   … Who did take me in my, for my first night there for my birthday. I feel like I experienced a little bit of depression. It was rough the first month. It was really rainy and I am also very effected by the weather. And it really did rain for the first month. So while it was raining and the weather wasn’t good. I couldn’t really hike. I didn’t really have any friends. That was rough.

                                    And then I started making some friends, friendships inside and outside of work and everything changed. I mean, again, like it was exciting to be somewhere new, be alone. And the friendships that I made there are fantastic. And I loved that job. So I really got a lot out of it. But the first month was not easy.

Julie Irwin:                    Yeah. And I remember that and I was so sad because I was ready to take a job in St. Louis and be with him because that’s not your nature.

Kurt Keena:                   It’s not typical of me. No.

Julie Irwin:                    But I think it was good for you because it made you appreciate it so much more once you did find those friendships. He didn’t want to leave.

Kurt Keena:                   No, no. I mean, I extended my contract as far as I could. I cried for two weeks before I left. I just, I didn’t want to go.

Julie Irwin:                    And for me, moving to Colorado, not knowing a single person in this state, I have to say we do have more fun together. We’re together, if we’re not living together, which this contract, we’re not, we’re together at least six days a week, if not more. And every day we’re like, “Why aren’t we on TV yet?” We’re so funny.

Jennifer Martin:            You’re each other’s best fans [crosstalk 00:14:22].

Julie Irwin:                    Yes. And our adventures are so, really they’re epic.

Kurt Keena:                   They are.

Julie Irwin:                    And we have so much fun together, but coming to Colorado by myself was the single-handedly the best thing I’d ever done. I recommend living in Airbnb because I did have, even though she was in her sixties, I had someone to come home to where whether or not you are best friends, or just roommates, or you don’t even see them. Just knowing that someone’s there was a source of comfort for me. But I really had to develop these friendships and start from square one. Like no one knew me.

                                    So I had nothing to hang on to. I was like, “The real me is coming out right now because there’s no reputation to adhere to. No one cares about what schools you went to here. No one cares about what accolades you have.” It was starting from ground zero and the friendships I’ve made in Colorado are the best I’ve ever had. I met my boyfriend out here who I’m pretty sure I’m going to marry if things go right.

Kurt Keena:                   I’m pretty sure.

Jennifer Martin:            Are you listening?

Julie Irwin:                    Although Kurt and I are already.

Kurt Keena:                   Well, we’ve been married for years but…

Jennifer Martin:            I mean, is that legal in some states?

Alyssa Hunter:              I think actually in Colorado. If you live with some… If they’re your domestic partner, I think you could get in each other’s insurance, at least.

Kurt Keena:                   Wow, we should try that.

Julie Irwin:                    Yeah.

Jennifer Martin:            So you have a common law and then a licensed one.

Kurt Keena:                   Well, people that don’t know us introduce us to other people as a married couple.

Julie Irwin:                    Yeah. Every contract they’re like, “This married speech therapist couple. They are changing the world.” We’re like, “Who says we’re married, but okay.”

Jennifer Martin:            I’ll take it.

Julie Irwin:                    It was a huge experience for me. It was the first time I hadn’t been… I still had the sense of comfort from my parents at home and knowing that if I failed or if something went wrong, they would welcome me back with open arms, but doing this for, was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

Kurt Keena:                   I’ll second that.

Julie Irwin:                    Yeah. For me or for you?

Kurt Keena:                   For both of us.

Julie Irwin:                    Yeah.

Kurt Keena:                   For both of us.

Alyssa Hunter:              How did both of you make those friendships when you didn’t have any basis? I know a lot of people get really worried about going somewhere because they’re like, “Wait, but how do you do this if I don’t have a wing man?”

Julie Irwin:                    I think I very often say that I am from New Jersey or that I live in New Jersey. And that puts people’s antennas up and they’re like, “What? Who are you here with?” And if I say for work, and if I have that open, I am pretty open. We both are and we seem to attract people pretty easily. Whether or not they become our friends is a different story.

Kurt Keena:                   Some cannot sit with us.

Julie Irwin:                    I was just so open to the idea of friendships. And I really believe in you get back what you put out and my best friend out here, actually she… I live on her property, in her guest house and she owns a yoga studio. That’s how I met her actually. I went to her yoga studio and she’s like, “You have no friends? I’ll be your friend.”

                                    It was this beautiful. Oh my gosh. They’re the best, but it was this beautiful matching. And she said, “Well, you put off that high frequency and people want to be around it.” And I think even if you have to fake it, do that when you go somewhere new. Because I was a little scared and I was a little anxious about meeting friends and, but I went into it being like, “I want this.” And it kind of fell into my lap. But I think it does have to do with what you put out.

Kurt Keena:                   Absolutely. I think also just doing things, whether it’s going on a hike. I mean, we’ve met people on hikes that have become friends with us. Eating out at restaurants alone. Not my favorite thing, but when you’re living in St Louis, you need to eat out several nights a week to experience that city. And I met a couple of friends doing that. I mean, just people saying, “Hey, you’re sitting alone.” You know, it’s a very friendly city.

                                    Going on hikes, eating out alone, working. I mean, when you’re at work, you’re going to meet people. Going grocery shopping. You just never know. But as a human, if you participate in society, you’re going to meet people and you’re going to have those coincidental experiences where you exchange information and you realize that you have a connection and-

Julie Irwin:                    And you might meet your boyfriend when your car goes into a ditch during a blizzard like I did.

Kurt Keena:                   Right. While you’re eating pretzels.

Jennifer Martin:            That’s right.

Jennifer Martin:            You never know. I’ve heard that story.

Alyssa Hunter:              I actually have not heard the story.

Julie Irwin:                    Do you want to hear it now?

Alyssa Hunter:              Yeah, absolutely.

Julie Irwin:                    I was going to steamboat because apparently that is the place to go snowmobiling. And I was driving there, going to be late as per usual. And there was a blizzard. So I was going kind of fast that my car went totally off the side of the road and I got stuck. So I just gave up and started-

Kurt Keena:                   She whipped out the pretzel.

Julie Irwin:                    I started eating pretzels. I was sitting… my slippered feet were on the dashboard-

Jennifer Martin:            And not a care in the world.

Alyssa Hunter:              This is a great image.

Julie Irwin:                    I turned to my friend who was visiting from New Jersey and I said, “I’m so sorry, but I think we’re missing snowmobiling.” And she was like, “It’s all right. Get out the pretzels.”

                                    This man came and tried to help get us out. And when that didn’t work, he called friends in for backup. So all of these people came and got me out of the ditch. And even though he wasn’t the nicest at first he was like, “You have four wheel drive. I have no idea how you got on the side of the road.”

Jennifer Martin:            A blizzard plus going way too fast equals ditch. That’s how.

Julie Irwin:                    He was like, “I’m also wondering why you’re in slippers when there’s six feet of snow.” And I was like, “Oh, I’m all about comfort here.” So we met but didn’t exchange information, phone numbers, names or anything. I actually thought he was just rude. And I continue on to the snowmobiling place and I guess everyone was late because they still hadn’t sent the groups out, but everyone’s group had been made.

                                    It was like groups of eight or 10, eight or 10, eight or 10. And then my friend and I were standing there alone and they were like Irwin, party of two, and this guy runs out with his orange helmet on and it takes it off. He’s like, “Sorry, I was helping getting two people out of a ditch.” And I was like, “Oh, no. That was us.”

Jennifer Martin:            Present.

Julie Irwin:                    He was actually our guide and he kind of took us on this private tour all day and it was amazing and so fun. And I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship so I wasn’t, it wasn’t on my radar, but my friend’s like, “I witnessed love at first sight.” And I was like, “Did you? I don’t know what I…”

Jennifer Martin:            Was I there?

Julie Irwin:                    Yeah. And she’s like, “You have to leave him your number.” And I said no. And she was like then get your car stuck again on the way out. He’ll know it’s you. I was like, “No.”

Jennifer Martin:            You know how to do it now?

Julie Irwin:                    Yeah.

Jennifer Martin:            Just do the same thing.

Julie Irwin:                    So we parted ways and later that day I got a message being like, “Hey, this might be illegal. I stole your number off your waiver, but I can’t stop thinking about you. You want to get a drink?” And we did. And a year and a half later the rest is history. We have a dog and are living together. It’s been a pretty crazy love story.

Kurt Keena:                   The dog’s name is Pretzel.

Jennifer Martin:            Oh, you’re kidding me.

Kurt Keena:                   No.

Julie Irwin:                    No.

Jennifer Martin:            Okay.

Julie Irwin:                    It was either going to be that or slipper.

Speaker 1:                    I was just going to say or slippers are snowmobile or steamboat. Is he going with, to New Jersey with you?

Julie Irwin:                    No. He’s from Texas. That’s another weird thing. But now he works out of Golden, but his company, he travels about three weeks a month for work, so he’s just going to make wherever my next home base is his home base. So we’ll see where-

Alyssa Hunter:              So sweet.

Julie Irwin:                    … that ends up. Alaska or Hawaii might be hard for that, but I’ll pick a place near an airport.

Alyssa Hunter:              It’s the ultimate testament to giving out a high frequency, open energy. Like, “Universe hit me.”

Julie Irwin:                    I know I say it all the time. Colorado gave me my happiness. Kurt and I endured a horrible tragedy last summer and lost our best friend. My Dad’s been really sick. So many things have happened and Colorado has made me whole again and brought me to people and experiences that have rounded me out to a degree I didn’t know was possible. And that is the gift of travel. You meet people who are supposed to fall into your path and I’m just lucky for the ones who did.

Jennifer Martin:            Sounds like Colorado is just as lucky to have you. I mean, both of you. That’s, oh.

Julie Irwin:                    We’ll be back.

Jennifer Martin:            So tell us, you know, what is your favorite adventure or place that you’ve visited as an, I know that’s going to be hard and that could be different for each of you, but what’s your favorite?

Kurt Keena:                   Well, Mount Rainier. I mean mount, we didn’t even really hike Mount Rainier, but anytime that we were on a hike that we could see it, that made me real happy. But just living in the Pacific Northwest. Being so far away from home, being in such a completely different environment was already an adventure. And then the hikes that we went on and the mountains that we climbed there was just unbelievable. Every day there was unbelievable, every single day, weekend or not.

Julie Irwin:                    It was. And I think the drive across the country opened our eyes to so much. Like our favorite state driving across South Dakota.

Kurt Keena:                   South Dakota.

Julie Irwin:                    Who have thought?

Kurt Keena:                   Who would have.

Julie Irwin:                    I was like-

Speaker 1:                    Not me.

Julie Irwin:                    … we’re stopping in South Dakota. Oh.

Alyssa Hunter:              Were you in the badlands?

Julie Irwin:                    Oh, we saw the badlands.

Jennifer Martin:            Amazing.

Kurt Keena:                   That was like an accidentally stop and we lost it there. I was skipping through.

Julie Irwin:                    We had a blast.

Jennifer Martin:            Literally.

Julie Irwin:                    For me, Colorado has such beauty, it’s a toss-up between Colorado and Washington for outdoor beauty. But I think for me it was doing solo hikes and coming out here alone. I did some crazy hikes here and I might do an Instagram post about the 10 hikes you need to do in Colorado. But this sense of empowerment that came with doing it solo made everything prettier. All my senses were high and probably because I thought I was going to get murdered or something.

                                    But I don’t know if I have a favorite place. Zion National Park is-

Alyssa Hunter:              The best.

Jennifer Martin:            Amen.

Julie Irwin:                    … my favorite in the US.

Speaker 1:                    Our favorite part that we visited.

Julie Irwin:                    My favorite national park is Banff though, up in Canada. Those are my two favorites.

Alyssa Hunter:              Good picks. Good picks.

Julie Irwin:                    But there’s just so many good things and there’s so much left to see.

Jennifer Martin:            Yeah. I mean where, what’s on your list of places you still want to go?

Kurt Keena:                   Alaska and Hawaii.

Julie Irwin:                    Alaska. Mm-hmm.

Kurt Keena:                   I mean, they’re just so far and it’d be so cool to be there for more than just like a week-long vacation. It’d be great to really live there.

Julie Irwin:                    I would love a Maine or New Hampshire placement in the fall.

Kurt Keena:                   Like in the East Coast.

Julie Irwin:                    Yeah. I don’t think I need anything else in Middle America. I don’t know.

Kurt Keena:                   I can do like Wyoming if something in Jackson opened up. California. I’m starting, but I mean northern California is hardly California.

Jennifer Martin:            No.

Kurt Keena:                   It’s still Oregon.

Jennifer Martin:            Totally.

Kurt Keena:                   But I would love to try southern California, central California. We haven’t done a placement in Oregon. We’ve been in Oregon, but never…

Julie Irwin:                    Oh, yeah, I would do that.

Speaker 1:                    You would love it.

Kurt Keena:                   We would definitely. Yeah.

Jennifer Martin:            That’s where I did my CF.

Julie Irwin:                    Really?

Jennifer Martin:            Yeah. You would love it. Except it’s like this.

Julie Irwin:                    Do you guys have favorite places that you’ve been? Like where should we go to next?

Speaker 1:                    I think you would love, I mean, the beauty of Oregon is Montana.

Jennifer Martin:            If you have not been to Montana…

Kurt Keena:                   We drove through it, and we were saying, “This place is so beautiful.”

Julie Irwin:                    If I could work at the Mayo Clinic, I’d be…

Kurt Keena:                   Yeah. You could do that.

Julie Irwin:                    Oh, no. That’s Minnesota, yeah.

Alyssa Hunter:              Minnesota is also beautiful in the summer.

Julie Irwin:                    It is.

Alyssa Hunter:              They have so many lakes and hikes. I mean, that’s the thing. You could really find the beauty wherever you are.

Julie Irwin:                    I think it all has to do with how you go into it. And I think doing your first placement with a friend is a good idea because there was such excitement there that now I could do it with or without and just be so ready for it. But I think-

Kurt Keena:                   It was so much fun to share…

Julie Irwin:                    … We didn’t have a fear.

Kurt Keena:                   No, I mean we on our drive out I, that’s the happiest I’ve probably ever been in my life. I was dancing at gas stations. It was hilarious. That whole drive. And we would be, so we were in separate cars, but we would be driving for maybe two or three hours and then be like, “Oh gosh, I miss Julie. Can we just stop for gas?” Just so we can be together, like laughing.

Julie Irwin:                    And we are the king and Queen of best things or food to do near me.

Kurt Keena:                   Yes.

Julie Irwin:                    So we always eat…

Kurt Keena:                   Siri.

Julie Irwin:                    Hey, Siri.

Kurt Keena:                   Hey, Siri.

Julie Irwin:                    Tell me the best place to eat near me.

Jennifer Martin:            Is Siri biased with that?

Julie Irwin:                    Hmm, she just does it by rating.

Kurt Keena:                   She just, yeah Google reviews.

Jennifer Martin:            Oh does she? So she’ll go okay-

Julie Irwin:                    And we do not use unless-

Jennifer Martin:            … she does the work for you.

Kurt Keena:                   Yeah.

Jennifer Martin:            She’s the Yelp.

Kurt Keena:                   She is.

Julie Irwin:                    We do not go to places less than 4.6 stars.

Kurt Keena:                   No.

Julie Irwin:                    No.

Kurt Keena:                   Which is really hard to find in Denver.

Alyssa Hunter:              You have standards. You have standards.

Jennifer Martin:            I respect it.

Jennifer Martin:            Okay. So final words. I mean, I think anybody who listens to you wants to travel, but final piece of advice for somebody who’s on the fence.

Julie Irwin:                    Jump it. Go over the fence. Just do it.

Kurt Keena:                   Yeah, just do it.

Julie Irwin:                    There is some comfort knowing that you can, it’s not advisable, but you can stop a contract if it’s really miserable or you can endure 13 weeks.

Kurt Keena:                   No matter what, it’s not finite. It’s 13 weeks.

Julie Irwin:                    Right. And I think that’s the beauty of it.

Kurt Keena:                   You know you’re going to grow just, you know, bring a really good book for nights at the hotel on your way out, or whatever you like to do. I certainly don’t read. I don’t know why I said bring a good book.

Julie Irwin:                    I don’t know either.

Kurt Keena:                   Or bring a good friend along with you. But yeah, just do it. There’s no reason not to.

Julie Irwin:                    For professional, personal, any reason it’s a win-win, I think.

Kurt Keena:                   It’s so much fun. There’s so much opportunity for growth. There’s so much opportunity for new tastes, new sites, new smells, new relationships. It’s all wins.

Julie Irwin:                    And I think the best, I’m not going to say it as the quote it is because I don’t know it verbatim, but like growing is kind of unlearning things that you’ve taken in over the years, but they’re not really you. And I think travel lets you expose the real you. I have learned so much about myself being in uncomfortable situations, or being on a new team, or being with a new population in a new setting.

                                    It’s like how can I navigate this? And it’s a success when you realize that you can. I think you can get so comfortable at home and/or wherever you are in a setting that you like and not really untap that potential you have. And this has been enlightening in so many ways for me.

Kurt Keena:                   Yeah, we just, you just learn so much about yourself as a human, as a friend, as a family member, as a clinician. I mean, there’s just so much development and if you bring a journal, that’s what I would bring. Bring a journal, write about it.

Julie Irwin:                    I have a one good thing a day calendar where I just write one thing that happened that day that was good. And you, even if you, because I have had jobs where I’m like, “Eh,” but your job doesn’t have to be everything. And so if you can still see that in that time you had in 13 weeks, 13 times seven. 91.

Kurt Keena:                   You’re asking me?

Julie Irwin:                    Yeah, 91 amazing things happened to you. That’s a win, I think. I don’t know. Yeah.

Jennifer Martin:            Well, we can’t top that. You guys are, again, I just…

Alyssa Hunter:              Their gratitude is overflowing.

Jennifer Martin:            Yes. We again, Kurt and Julie, we love you both. You’re amazing.

Alyssa Hunter:              Thank you for coming.

Jennifer Martin:            Yes. Thank you.

Julie Irwin:                    Our pleasure.

Kurt Keena:                   Our pleasure. We love you too.

Alyssa Hunter:              Yeah. And sadly, we have to wrap it up, but maybe it’s just so we can hop in the car with you guys for your next adventure.

Jennifer Martin:            Where are we going next?

Kurt Keena:                   We’re going to a 4.7 star restaurant tonight most likely.

Alyssa Hunter:              Just let us know Siri, we’ll be there. Siri, where are Kurt and Julie going?

Jennifer Martin:            I’m sure she knows you by now.

Kurt Keena:                   Oh, she does.

Alyssa Hunter:              But really thank you Kurt and Julie. And thank you everyone who listened in for this episode of SLP Full Disclosure. We are going to be talking to so many different people like Kurt and Julie who have just expanded the field, have been trailblazers hitting on so many different niches and topics and we can’t wait to continue on with this growing adventure. But if you’d like to get in touch with us, send us an email at And also you can read the episode at

                                    But also be sure to subscribe to our podcast no matter where you get your podcasts. Just find us on there. And if you found value from this, give us a little review. Give their dreams of being famous a little shout-out. Or if you also want to follow them on Instagram, Kurt, what is your Instagram handle? I need to follow you immediately.

Kurt Keena:                   It is Kurt.keena, K-U-R-T dot K-E-E-N-A.

Julie Irwin:                    And mine would be Julie E. Irwin, J-U-L-I-E E I-R-W-I-N.

Jennifer Martin:            Well worth it.

Alyssa Hunter:              Amazing. Well worth it.

Jennifer Martin:            Amazing. Thank you.

Jennifer Martin:            Thank you, and best of luck on your next adventure.

Kurt Keena:                   Thank you so much.

Alyssa Hunter:              Yeah, we’ll see you there.

Julie Irwin:                    Yeah.

Jennifer Martin:            Thank you to our producer, Jonathan Cary. Our music and editing was by Aidan Dykes, and also this podcast was powered by Advanced Travel Therapy.