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?
I received my final grades today and was filled with an overwhelming sense of completion, accomplishment, and suddenly…sadness. Had I just been working for the good grades all this time? I completed all my assignments, extra credit, asked in what other ways I could help, and spent hours reading the chapters for each course. All for the sake of being a “good therapist,” right? Well, when the end of the semester rolls around, those same thoughts of “How well do I have to do on the final exam to make an A/B?” come around. When I reflected on my study habits, work ethic, and task completion, grades and satisfactory ratings ranked high in the scheme of themes. Where did this come from? When did I become a “slave of the system set up before [her]?”
I love everything about Speech-Language Pathology. I would consider myself passionate, excited, zealous, and other synonyms to “pumped-up-let’s-do-this”. However, more often than not, I got wrapped up in what my grade would be, or what little I had to accomplish to get my professor’s stamp of approval. There were some assignments that inspired me to work hard and dig a little deeper. But I also had lessons to prepare for clients, tests to study for, graduate assistantship hours to fill, and friends to see. Who has time to pursue personal interests like hiking, kayaking, climbing, or skydiving. Those aren’t on the syllabus.
Perhaps I’m being hard on myself. I was often both a good student AND a good therapist, as I’m sure many SLP graduate students are. But as I start a new journey called a Clinical Fellowship here in Alaska, I am determined to work within the expectations of my job – but not be limited by them either. It’s not always about what’s on an IEP or what the latest research says to do. Sometimes, it’s about being in the moment with a client, experiencing what inspires another person, and taking that moment to another level. Even if it’s as simple as fidgeting with a pencil or playing with playdough. I hope that if you read this post and the quote, you will feel just as convicted as I am.
Don’t go through SLP graduate school to be just a “good student” or just a “good therapist”. The expectations on the syllabus are not the measure of what you should learn. They are a foundation upon which to build your own style, approach, and technique so that you can inspire future clients to reach their full potential. It’s not always about what other’s expect of you to put on a test or on an IEP. There is more to this profession than that, and I plan to find out just how much I can accomplish for the sake of helping and serving others.