When Cornis-Pop was in school in her native Romania, her interests were split between mathematics and teaching English or linguistics. She chose to go into linguistics and studied the deep structure of languages and how they are represented in the brain, which was “a nice marriage between my more scientific brain and my teaching brain,” she said.
She started out practicing speech pathology but gravitated toward medical speech pathology while working at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College Medical Center, which has a strong rehabilitation and traumatic brain injury program.
(Richmond VA Medical Center) - Micaela Cornis-Pop of the Deparment of Veterans Affairs.
Who is Micaela Cornis-Pop?
POSITION: National Program Manager, Polytrauma System of Care, Veterans Health Administration, Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services, Department of Veterans Affairs
RESIDENCE: Richmond, Va.
EDUCATION: West University of Timisoara, Romania, M.A. in English; Emerson College, Boston, M.S. in Communications Disorders; University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Ph.D. in General Linguistics.
AWARDS: Association of VA Speech-Language Pathologists, Honors of the Association, April 2012; Association of VA Speech-Language Pathologists, Outstanding Achievement Award, April 2007
HOBBIES: Reading, traveling, listening to music
Working now in program development, Cornis-Pop said she has the opportunity, along with others specializing in her area, to move the field of rehabilitation, and even brain science, forward because the focus on healing and rehabilitating the brain contributes to better understanding of the brain and injury to it.
She added that operating within the federal government provides tremendous advantages. VA providers can do what they feel is right for the patient rather than having to justify their work to third-party payers or face other limits to how they practice. “We hear this over and over from practitioners in the field,” she said.
The federal system also provides a responsive nationwide network that understands the needs of veterans and can implement feedback from all around the country, Cornis-Pop said. And the national infrastructure makes changes possible in a rather brief period of time. “This supportive network makes the spread of new information so much easier than it would be in a fragmented system.”
This article was jointly prepared by the Partnership for Public Service, a group seeking to enhance the performance of the federal government, and washingtonpost.com. Go to www.servicetoamericamedals.org/nominate to nominate a federal employee for a Service to America Medal and http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/fedpage/players/ to read about other federal workers who are making a difference.