4 years of an undergraduate degree followed by 2 years getting a Master’s degree, all you really think about is that first payday when you start your Clinical Fellowship. Something about being paid for the work you are doing – it rights the soul. All those sleepless nights studying, worrying, writing, reading – ugh! If I had been paid for the work I invested in my education, let’s just say you could all come stay with me on my own Alaskan homestead.
Now, some honesty…
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
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.
I recently tweeted about an illustrated quote by the gentleman over at ZenPencils.com; it’s called “Erica Goldson – Graduation Speech.” Nothing, as of late, has inspired me more than reading this quote ( please check it out before you continue). My SLP graduate school graduation is this Saturday, July 27 and I won’t be attending since I moved to Alaska about 2 weeks ago. After reading this, I reflected on my own graduate school journey. One question came to mind:
Am I a good student or a good therapist?
The transition from Speech-Language Pathology graduate student to an independent, unsupervised SLP is an awkward time. I’m frolicking through my last internship of graduate school, and I can’t help by notice the differences in my clinical and professional skills. The promise of learning from a new supervisor coupled with the triumph of securing an SLP-CF position in the fall heightens my self-awareness.
The awkwardness reminds me of my teenage years, which was almost 6 years ago (once upon a time, really). Still living at home, drivers license in hand, and plans with friends made. Keys at the ready, I was free as a bird…after I consulted with my father of course. The gatekeeper. The Oz of Curfew. It’s easy to overlook those pesky details of asking permission or seeking advice when you think you are standing on your own two feet. This same awkwardness has followed me into SLP graduate school. When confronted with 30 new clients, inclusion of technology, and finding evidence, how quickly I’m reminded of my unsure footings. Yet, those footings are stronger than I imagined.
I’ve posted statistics, tips, ideas, and resources for applying to Speech-Language Pathology graduate school. For those of you who read them and used the ideas, thank you! For those of you who did not, that’s OK, we can still be friends. I will get us one of those friendship necklaces. BFFs. I digress.
This post is intended for those who were accepted into an SLP graduate program and are anxiously and excitedly awaiting to start. Those were the days. When you wake up without a constant twinge of nervousness, contemplating if you will get in anywhere. TallyHo! Now you can breathe a little easier knowing you have a place to call home for the next 2-3 years. A place that will shape you, mold you, make you into a real-life Speech-Language Pathologist. Yippee!!
Now, you have a few months before you start. Don’t sit like a bump on a log for the next 2-3 months, but at the same time, take time to enjoy graduation, freedom, and summer time. Graduate school isn’t all unicorns, rainbows, and meadow frolicking. In preparation for the deluge of information that will soon ensnare your mind, consider the following Summer Reading List as you lay on a beach or veg-out on the couch. As you consider and use the list below, keep in mind to review the big areas in SLP:
- Language Development and Disorders
Free Summer Reading List
- Undergraduate Notes - The jumbled mess that is your undergraduate notes, look them over. Remember what was tough to remember. Recall the topics which you first skimmed, and look more closely this time around.
- Undergraduate Textbooks – Especially the ever-lovely Anatomy text for a review of the facial, swallowing, and laryngeal musculature necessary for speech and swallowing.
- SLP Scope of Practice - Now I’m sure at some point a professor pointed you in this documents direction, and you glanced over it with an eye of disillusionment. I said to myself, “How in the world will I ever know all of this?!” Now, break it out, look over the sections, and take note of things you don’t know or have never heard of. Google it. Research it. Don’t let your newness get the best of you.
- ASHA’s Compendium of EBP Guidelines and Systematic Reviews - Mind. Blown. I was introduced to this resource way too late in my SLP graduate school journey. Bookmark it. Tattoo it to your arm (obvious exaggeration). Look through the topics that interest you. Aphasia, dysphagia, dementia, feeding, and more. The guidelines documents are great for overview when working with the disorder – a starting place – and the evidence for the topics are equally helpful for preparing for future clients.
- ASHA’s Practice Portal – This is a new venture for ASHA, but promises to be my future go-to spot when a difficult client comes my way (still in Beta trials). Currently, there are only 4 topics available, but there is more coming in 2013…stay tuned!
- Previous years’ ASHA Convention Handouts - If you have a specific area of interest or can’t find information in a given area, search handouts and see what you can find. People work hard when presenting, so use the resource.
I am planning a Part 2 to this reading list which highlights paid options for those wanting more resources than are available online. For now, this will get you started.
Happy reading fellow SLP graduate students!!
Universities across the U.S. offer a set of courses which prepare students to begin a graduate program in Speech-Language Pathology (SLP). There are a few different reasons a person might choose to complete these prerequisite courses (aka post-baccalaureate courses) in SLP or Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD):
- You have your Bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field (psychology, exercise science, biology, underwater basket weaving).
- If you have a degree in a non SLP/CSD field, you were rejected from or SLP graduate schools so are deciding to take the classes while you reapply.
- You are considering making a career change and want the inside scoop before applying to SLP graduate schools.
How many times will you continue to apply to Speech-Language Pathology graduate schools before you stop and consider an alternate route or career path?
I’ve posed this question to myself since many friends and blog readers have commented and emailed me regarding grad school rejection. So when would you stop saying “I’m determined to get into SLP graduate school” and start saying “I’m desperate to get into SLP graduate school.” Where is the line between determination and desperation? After the first year of rejection letters? The second year? The third year? At some point, determination turns into desperation, and the anxiety eats away at the passion and excitement.
by Smarty Ears
An app designed by SLPs to improve language comprehension for all age groups. More specifically, it was developed to target categorization skills to improve word finding, memory, and reading comprehension difficulties.
Price = $9.99
There’s a naiveté about being a new clinician. Stumbling through therapy sessions, wondering if you are talking too much, giving the right prompts, or using the right technique. As a supervisor sits, watching, I wonder “What does she really think about my skills?” Sweaty hands.
Everyone has been through the process. Courses. Syllabi. Ethics. Evidence. Rationale. Professionalism. A constant flood of lists, charts, and data. Why does it seem that I should be at a higher level than the one I am now? Why must I still ask why?
I’m still new at this. Designing therapy like a pathologist’s pauper, hoping if I do it his or her way, perhaps I will find my own. Asking what seems like an obvious question, followed by a much more obvious answer. Hand to face. Why didn’t I think of that?
A child talks out of turn. I must look incompetent. This one picks his nose and touches my iPad. I need a hand wipe, but don’t want to seem overly clean. Why can’t kids just leave their nose alone?
So. Many. Goals. I started with one client, now I have forty times that. Constantly thinking what’s next. Tally marks. Was that right? Wait, did they say “cab” or “cap”? Crap. Did that one just say shit?
Lunch seems like a break from my thoughts. Email. Twitter. Take a picture. Enjoy this moment because soon I will be eating alone, instead of taking time to chat. Conversation turns to the how. The why. Why Alaska? Why not.
Halls filled with faces, unknown. That child is confused, should I step in? I’m new. Wearing a visitor’s badge. I already look creepy, just leave him be. Gather the kiddos. Make sure I don’t lose them on the way back to speech. Now, which one is which? Are you this one or that one?
End of the day. Let’s hear it. How did I do? Oh. I forgot to do that. Wait, you think I did well?
Driving home. Wondering if this illusion wears off. I’m having fun, not working all day. How can a job be more than a passion? How can a degree be more than 9 to 5? With all the newness of being a grad, I’m just so humbled by all the support. If there is no limit, why wait to find more?