ANCDS Board Certification Interview with Rene Utianski

Name: Rene L. Utianski, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, BC-ANCDS
University(s) attended: The George Washington University (BA), Arizona State University (MS, Ph.D.)
Workplace: Mayo Clinic- Rochester, MN
Area(s) of clinical or research interest: Functional neurological disorders and progressive apraxia of speech

Rene Interview

Top Right: Rene L. Utianski, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, BC-ANCDS
Top Left: Kim Eichorn, M.S., CCC-SLP, ATP, BC-ANCDS
Botton Left: Ramani Voleti, M.S., CCC-SLP, BC-ANCDS, Board Certification Committee Chair
Bottom Right: Mary Purdy, Ph.D., BC-ANCDS


1. What motivated you to pursue ANCDS board certification?
I’ve always been committed to practicing at the top of my scope, and board certification felt like a great way to demonstrate and maintain that.

2. What advantages do you see for yourself as an ANCDS board-certified speech-language Pathologist?
I have enjoyed connecting with other people who love to think and talk about the nitty-gritty of differential diagnosis in these patient populations. I feel fully vested in this wonderful community! Also, I still consider myself in the early part of my career — if I have 30+ years to go, that must be true! And I will publicly admit I still experience imposter syndrome. Successfully completing this has helped me overcome those bouts more quickly!

3. Tell us about the case studies you chose.
My first case addressed diagnosing and treating a young woman with a functional speech disorder. I wrote it up with a few other cases in a paper that’s currently in press in AJSLP. I love working with these patients, particularly because there are often good prognoses! I was also privileged to contribute to a consensus paper about diagnosing and treating these patients that came out late last year. I think it is a great resource that highlights the need for a deeper understanding of these patients within our community.

My second case described a gentleman with Primary Progressive Apraxia of Speech, which was a challenging differential diagnosis because he had a subtle motor disorder and English was not his native language. My clinical practice is largely diagnostic and I did not have the opportunity to see him for treatment, so I instead outlined recommendations instead of outcomes.

4. What advice do you have for others who are considering ANCDS board certification?
If you consider yourself an expert in neurogenic communication disorders and you’re not pursuing this because you fear others don’t view you that way- consider it more reason to do it! Remain open to feedback and trust that the intention is constructive. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for mentorship from other members of ANCDS- it is a genuinely supportive community!

5. How long was the process for you from start to finish?
I applied in late February 2021 and defended in early February 2022. I documented the experience on Twitter (@utianski) which includes more interval timelines!

6. Feel free to share anything else about you that may be a fun fact or something that helps people get to know you a bit (or not).
My sister and sister-in-law are both SLPs who work with adult neurogenic populations! And, yes, I’m prepared to support them through the board certification process when they’re ready to apply!

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