The Write Choice Laurie Budgar combines her experiences as an SLP and journalist in a job that allows her to help people broadly through her expertise in communication. In the Limelight
In the Limelight  |   June 01, 2016
The Write Choice
Author Notes
  • Shelley D. Hutchins is a content editor/producer for The ASHA Leader.
    Shelley D. Hutchins is a content editor/producer for The ASHA Leader.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Special Populations / School-Based Settings / Healthcare Settings / Professional Issues & Training / In the Limelight
In the Limelight   |   June 01, 2016
The Write Choice
The ASHA Leader, June 2016, Vol. 21, 26-27. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.21062016.26
The ASHA Leader, June 2016, Vol. 21, 26-27. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.21062016.26
Name: Laurie Budgar
Title: Freelance writer/editor, including editor, Momentum, magazine of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Hometown: Longmont, Colorado
Speech-language pathologist Laurie Budgar found her dream job. But it isn’t at a hospital, school, skilled nursing facility, rehab clinic or university. She works at a magazine.
Specifically, she writes and edits a variety of health-related publications, but for much of her time she serves as editor of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s flagship publication, Momentum, which reaches more than 400,000 people.
“This job was meant for me,” says Budgar. “I saw the listing and felt it was perfect. It allows me to blend my skills as an SLP and journalist.”
As an SLP, Budgar treated mostly adults with neurological issues. (She chuckles about how her clinical fellowship at a preschool confirmed her belief that “working with kids was not my path!”) After 12 years in the field, she hit a professional bump. She was laid off in 1998—along with hundreds or even thousands of other SLPs, she guesses—because of the new Medicare prospective payment system. The system changed reimbursement rates for speech-language services, resulting in widespread cutbacks.
A self-proclaimed bookworm and closet writer since childhood, Budgar always harbored a love for language. She grew up in the Watergate era and admired journalists, but was discouraged—by parents nervous about job prospects—from following in Woodward and Bernstein’s footsteps. She became an SLP after realizing it gave her another way to help people communicate.
When she was laid off, Budgar took a chance on her first love and enrolled in journalism classes at a community college. She excelled in this other communication profession, landing a job as associate editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal in 1998—just a year after embarking on her new career path—and eventually becoming editor.
Although Budgar enjoyed business reporting, she wanted to tap into her experiences as an SLP. She still maintains her Cs, but—like working with preschoolers—she knew returning to clinical practice wasn’t the right move for her.
“I’d been thinking about a way to use my abilities as an SLP, but I was happier telling people’s stories,” she says. “And knowing others learn from them makes me feel like I help a broader range of people.”

Budgar particularly enjoys guiding writers. Her years as an SLP come into play as she outlines each assignment and offers suggestions for questions to ask.

That’s when she saw the listing for the editor job with Momentum. Budgar’s prior work treating people with neurological issues, including multiple sclerosis, gives her first-hand understanding of what people living with the disease face. She produces content that delves deep into symptoms, treatment options, personal stories and more. During the five years she’s helmed Momentum, it’s won several awards, including best issue and best single article from the prestigious Folio competition.
Budgar particularly enjoys guiding writers. Her years as an SLP come into play as she outlines each assignment and offers insights on questions to ask. She also uses her background knowledge on topics like dysphagia and cognitive issues for stories not directly related to speech-language services, as in a recent article on foot drop.
“This issue—where the toes drag on the ground—gets treated by a physical therapist,” she explains. “But I worked with enough PTs to know what the article needs to cover and to suggest specific questions—what muscles are involved, whether it’s a sensory or motor nerve issue—to my freelancer.”
In addition, Budgar’s time as a clinician taught her collaboration techniques, which come in especially handy when she works with contributors who have no writing experience. Many people with multiple sclerosis share their stories through the magazine and its website, offering a crucial insider’s perspective—but their writing often needs significant editing. Budgar can make these changes while maintaining the writers’ individual voice—and keep them satisfied with the end result—thanks to diplomacy skills built through close work with other professionals and patients.
Budgar still keeps up on the latest techniques and treatments in speech-language pathology. She takes continuing education courses to maintain her certification and attends professional events.
Budgar credits much of her success as an editor to her years of experience as an SLP. Because of this background, she can produce articles addressing the whole person, as she puts it, and not just symptoms caused by their MS. She infuses her understanding of how a disorder affects all parts of a person’s life—from career to relationships to navigating the health care bureaucracy—into each story.
“When people reach out to each other or communicate, they make connections,” Budgar says. “So even though I’m not treating people, I’m helping them establish communication and connection with others through the sharing of personal experiences.”
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June 2016
Volume 21, Issue 6