“Us versus them”
That’s often the mentality going into a difficult IEP meetings that involves lawyers, multiple service providers, and/or parent advocates. The other day, I caught myself thinking I would walk into a meeting, tell parents my testing results, and inform them what their child is or is not qualified for. I went to school and I’m the professional.
Please (for the few readers of mine), forgive me for my thoughtlessness. How arrogant I was becoming that day. O_0
I climbed down off my high horse and tried to put myself in the parents’ shoes. I was reminded of a short essay called “Welcome to Holland” written in 1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. Read it. It’s a great metaphor-rich story from a parent perspective on having a child with disabilities. The author expresses that it’s like planning an exciting vacation to Italy, but instead you land and must stay in Holland.
“So [now] you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.”
Ready. Set. Search!!
Are you graduating in 2014 with your Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology or Communication Sciences and Disorders? Yes? Well get cracking on the job hunt. It’s not too early. Searching for a CF position is like Christmas Eve for SLP grad students. At least, it was for me. So, I’m going to share in the excitement for others looking for a Clinical Fellowship position the year they graduate.
When I started writing this post, I had wanted to share all my grand ideas for searching in all types of job prospects. Yet, I have no experience outside applying to schools and hospitals. I haven’t pursued any other job prospects. So for now, this post is limited to searching for a position in schools and hospitals because that’s my experience. If you are interested in private practice, home health, SNFs, or contract companies – contact me directly via my Contact form; I am 100% sure I know someone who can help you.
You guys….today marks two quarters of my first year as a Speech-Language Pathologist. That’s pretty much half way. 10 blog posts ago I was complaining about tests and exams. Now, I’m complaining about too many progress notes and not enough hours in the day. Nothing quite like it – and I love it.
I was talking to my Clinical Fellowship mentor/supervisor yesterday about when she was doing my next observation, and she apologized that she might not make it over before Christmas break. I was so flustered about finishing evaluations and progress notes, that I honestly forgot she was supposed to come. This wonderful woman has made herself available to me at any time. She’s set things aside to come and observe me. I am just thankful to have her time via phone/email, much less her making time to come see me.
I write all that to say, finding a Clinical Fellowship mentor, ideally, should be like a fond Christmas memory. You can always call on that memory to feel better, to calm down, to reminisce that life isn’t always this crazy. Christmas for me was about being with family who made you feel comfortable and reminded me that people are looking out for you. That’s what my mentor has been for me, whether she knows it or not. Often times, a CF mentor is selected for you or maybe have more than one. I would like to share my thoughts on the qualities a great CF mentor should have: Read the rest of this entry
Hot off the presses from the International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders. I want to share my thoughts on a recent article entitled Impact of placement type on the development of clinical competency in speech-language pathology students.
The thing I enjoyed most about this article was how they described their “aim”. In summary, they wanted to see how the placement type for SLP students impacted the competency levels as they progressed through the program. I often wondered how I can be just as competent as my classmate when we observed different SLPs and were placed in very different settings. Yet many of us felt equally confident. This article helped shed some light on why different experiences can result in the same clinical competency. Here’s a quick look at the highlights I discuss below:
- Caseload, setting, and placement intensity may impact clinical competence for soon-t0-be SLPs
- Caseload appeared to be the most significant variable impacting an increase in clinical knowledge
- No matter the setting, every placement provided opportunities for growth as a future SLP
Oh. I haven’t blogged since September 13. That’s almost 2 months. *weeps*
I have been doing things like being silly in the snow…
And watching the fog roll into the Mat-Su Valley here in Alaska.
I have been slacking and I have no excuse. I mean, work is busy and time consuming. But if I am being honest, I’ve just been neglecting my blog. Like that old toy you stopped playing with because you got a new one. Well my new toy has been Alaska. It’s taken time to get over the “newness.” So here’s to hoping I get off this silly blogging hiatus and gallivant into more posts.
What’s most surprising about this first year as an SLP is how quickly I found my weaknesses.
In SLP graduate school, the support is there. Ever-present even in the smallest of ways. Someone to answer a question, pick up your slack, support you, and even take over if necessary. There was always back-up. But all I can remember is feeling like a slick professional, ready to shake the chains of graduate school for a paid position doing what I love. I knew I didn’t know it all, but I figured I could figure it out.
True. I can figure it out. But when a kid is sitting in front of you and you can’t think of where you put your tongue depressors or how to interact with a non-verbal kiddo, “figuring it out” doesn’t always cut it. I am doing my best to prep for my days by problem solving my weaknesses. Here is a quick list of my weaknesses:
- I need more tricks for teaching the /r/ sound.
- Being more systematic. My ADD rubs off in therapy…need to tuck that in and straighten out, Katie.
- Modeling social behavior before I expect it. It’s so easy to just grab a kid from a room, head my office and start. Take a moment for greetings and farewells.
I’m sure this list will change, grow, and become more complex as the year goes on. But to recognize where I have the potential to be overwhelmed makes me feel less overwhelmed. I haven’t had a day where I went home and felt overwhelmed with what tomorrow brings. I brainstormed some ideas on why I think that is. While this applies to my Clinical Fellowship, I think many can apply to starting SLP graduate school or any new position.
As the year marches on, IEPs come due and quarterly reports are nearing. I started asking myself how can I better understand the outcomes and data of the children I serve? I came across a study by Jacoby, et al. (2002) and liked how they determined outcomes using a functional communication measure.
The purpose of the study was to investigate the number of therapy sessions needed to facilitate functional communication improvements when delivering services to children from three to six years old with identified speech and/or language disorder(s). One research question asked if the number of treatment units necessary to improve functional communication were affected by age of the child. The answer was yes. Younger children required fewer sessions to demonstrate improvement. For instance, a 3 year old child averaged 95 treatment units (15 min units) to improve 1 level, while a 6 year old required 139 units to improve 1 functional level.
While the data seems a bit obvious because of how the brain changes with age, I also didn’t think to consider the number of times I get to see my kiddos. I’m realizing how often a quarter of a year can pass by and I don’t get to see the kids the allotted time laid out in their IEPs. Field trips, testing, holidays, sickness, and professional development; these factors play into how much I can change the functional communication of a child. As I prepare IEPs and quarterly report cards, I need to address or at least mention how often or not often I got to see the child. If I only saw a child 3 times instead of 6 yet they made improvement, what does that data suggest? What if I saw a child 6 times instead of 4 times in previous quarters, yet they made little to no improvement? Are the interventions working or is it the time I’ve seen them?
I love to question myself, my approaches, techniques. Data makes me problem solve, think critically about what I’m doing, and re-evaluate if it’s not working. When a report card allows for checking “making adequate progress” vs. “minimal progress”…what am I doing or not doing that I can change to make more progress next time.
This isn’t a game…it’s communication. I’m laying a foundation for a child’s future outcomes. So when I measure how well a child is doing, I want to make sure it matches up with how well they are functionally communicating. With so many variables impacting my sessions, this is just one measure to help analyze where a child is on the communication spectrum. There are so many ways to keep track, but just thought this one was an interesting perspective.
Jacoby, G. P., Lee, L., Kummer, A. W., Levin, L., & Creaghead, N. A. (2002). The number of individual treatment units necessary to facilitate functional communication improvements in the speech and language of young children. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 11, 370-380. [Abstract here]
Mullen, R. & Schooling, T. (2010). The national outcomes measurement system for pediatric speech-language pathology. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 41, 44-60. [Abstract here]
I made it. This was the first full week starting my SLP-CF here in The Last Frontier. I have about 50 + kiddos on my caseload and couldn’t be more excited. All the preparation in the world couldn’t have prepared me for sitting down at my desk in front of a cabinet full of working files, and figuring out how I’m going to make this work. On more than one occasion, I wanted to stop and ask someone, “Excuse me, could you tell me how to do my job?” But I gathered my newbie-baggage, shook-off the overwhelming feelings, and tackled my job. Sink or swim people…and the water is cold.
The spring 2013 Issue of Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders contains an article discussing EBP approaches to providing online education in the area of Speech-Language Pathology. There is such limited information on online SLP programs available. ASHA’s EdFind is limited in that it takes you to universities’ websites and even then it’s like a scavenger hunt to find the details.
The article authors, Duddin & Drulia, cite The Sloan Consortium, a well-established online education leader, when discussing the foundation for programs (2013). According to Moore (2005), there are 5 pillars to determine the quality of online education:
- Learning Effectiveness
- Cost Effectiveness
- Faculty Satisfaction
- Student Satisfaction
4 Virginia universities collaborated to create an online program based on evidence and collaboration; it is called The Distance Learning in Virginia Educating SLPs (DLVE-SLP). The thing I loved most about this article was the amount of time and effort the universities took in creating such a program. They considered the evidence, took a risk, and created a program in order to further the profession.
The competitiveness of SLP graduate schools has created a funnel for all those dreaming of becoming an SLP. With this need, also comes the reality that many universities are trying to “catch up” or “tread water” to meet the need. While ASHA accredited schools must meet standards, every school varies in exactly how they carry out the ASHA-rules and regulations. I am impressed with the thought behind the DLVE-SLP program discussed in the article. It made me wonder what went on behind-the-scenes of my university before it began. Did they ever imagine going digital? How many schools are in the works to create completely online programs? Once more, how many of them are using evidence based approaches to build a framework around online education?
My hope is to see more high-quality, research based online SLP/CSD graduate programs in the future. Maybe then the funnel for entering SLP graduate school will be lessened.
Until next time — Greetings from Alaska!
Now that I’ve been living in Alaska for a month, I’m gearing up to start work as a Clinical Fellow. I’ve got my trapper keeper, #2 pencils, and an A+ attitude. That’s all you need for a first day, right? I’m going to go with yes. This “Clinical Fellowship” used to be termed “Clinical Fellowship Year” because it would take a year, now the minimum is 36 weeks or 9 months. Basically you are pregnant with newness and experiencing anxiety, cravings for expensive pens, and wondering what to do with all this money you now make. Maybe it should be called “Clinical Fellowship Pregnancy” (sorry gentleman) or “The Fellowship of Clinicians” (see what I did there?!) or “‘What the heck am I doing?!’ Club”. Just a suggestion, ASHA. Take note. Read the rest of this entry