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The Last Frontier and Me, an SLP

I moved to Alaska on July 7, 2013. I’ve been here almost a year. I haven’t spoke of it much on my blog, mostly because I didn’t think people would care. But its become such a huge piece of why I love being an SLP and why I don’t want to leave, that I need to share – I need to you all to hear what is happening in Alaska….allow me to share with you, my readers, a piece of me.  A piece of self that I found here.


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How I’m Avoiding being an Overwhelmed SLP-CF

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.

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First Week – Clinical Fellowship

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.

Matanuska Glacier 2013

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The Clinical Fellowship Experience

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

Good Student or Good Therapist?

I recently tweeted about an illustrated quote  by the gentleman over at; 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? 

zen pencils - work ticket

Excerpt from the quote

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New Beginnings

I live in Alaska.

There have been many obstacles since I decided to move to Alaska and work as a Speech-Language Pathologist. Where would I work? Where would I live? How would I get around? Could I make it with the long days of sunlight and long days of darkness? How expensive is it to move? The questions seemed more overwhelming than the dream of living in Alaska.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34

Here I sit, in my cozy Alaskan cabin: A car in my driveway, food in the fridge, a contract in hand, and nothing but blue skies. I have no idea what my first year as an SLP-CF in AK will be like, but I have come this far so I will continue to trust, look forward, and know this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

I won’t be changing my blog to add any Alaska-related content, other than what relates to my practice as an SLP. However, if you would like to follow my personal journey to becoming an Alaskan woman, feel free to add me on Google Plus. I am treating that account like a blog all about my adventures, successes, and everyday dealings while I find my way in Alaska.

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Kenai Peninsula – Alaska

After a few years of Alaska dreaming, on May 2, 2012 I boarded a plane in Atlanta, Georgia to fulfill my dream. I had multiple purposes for the trip: observe 3 Speech-Language Pathologists, be a super touristy tourist, and figure out if I could live in the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. I think my trip was a success…so I shall share my success in hopes others may have similar aspirations today or in the future.

I used to find my round-trip flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Anchorage, Alaska. For some reason (which I attribute to the mercy of the Lord), my round-trip flight was $438.00…ridiculously cheap thank goodness. Then I took a small connecting flight from Anchorage to Kenai, Alaska on a small plane via ERA Alaska Airlines for around $100. I left ATL at 7:30am on May 2 and finally arrived in Kenai Alaska about 12:30pm May 3.

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Why Kenai, Alaska?

“It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.” ~Andre Gide

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” ~Helen Keller

“My life and career is my own adventure” ~Dario Argento

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold” ~Helen Keller

We so often get our ideas from the sayings and teachings of others; better yet, ideas come from our own actions, words, and experiences. So where did my idea to trek to Alaska come from? I like to think the story begins with Tracie Peterson’s book series The Song of Alaska

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