Private Speech Therapy in Alaska

I’ve been working in a Developmental and Behavioral Clinic since August 2017 here in Wasilla. It’s been a whirlwind start full of 50 “new” things to learn. The thing about being a Speech-Language Pathologist is that you never know all you’re going to know. It’s a never ending cycle of  self-talk like this: “Oh, I didn’t know that. Now I know….but wait…how do I do this thing?…did I do that “thing” right? Probably not. Shh. Don’t tell.”

This year marks 5 years since graduating from SLP grad school and working my way into finally identifying as a ‘kind of experienced’ SLP. The CCC part of the credentials after my name really stands for “Complete Constant Chaos” or “Certified Chaos Controller” or “Chronic Clutter Creator”. Just brainstorming there, but you get my drift. I’m rarely as internally confident as I hope to appear. Given all of that, stepping out of the school district pool of SLPs was intimidating. I am a lone therapist in a small clinic full of people with more degrees than me – Pediatricians, Neuropsychologists, Counselors, Nurse Practitioners. Here it is now, 7 months later, and I have never in my career felt more confident than now, with a hint of undulating uncertainty when something new comes my way. Honestly, I hope that never changes. Because if you never feel uncertain or cautious, how the hell will you know when to grow? That feeling is what keeps me seeking out training, continuing education, and taking risks in therapy. Be cautious, but be bold as hell about it.

This new roll as a private practice SLP comes with a respect that you don’t automatically get as a school-based SLP, from both parents and professionals alike. It’s not a bad thing. I think I have some bias of my own about school nurses vs. nurses in hospitals or clinics. Why do I have that? It’s nonsense. Now being in a new roll and seeing how much parents and professionals truly value my ideas and contributions, it’s empowering. Yet I still miss being part of a school environment, greeting 500 kids, cleaning up messes from lunch, and playing on playgrounds and calling it therapy. My schedule is still busy and I’m always behind on paperwork. Changing settings didn’t really change my pro-level procrastination abilities. (ha!)

I love my new job. I love my patients. I like the daily challenges I face.

And here’s a quick peek at my weekly schedule. I get every Friday off, so yay for 3 day weekends!


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.

Continue reading “How I’m Avoiding being an Overwhelmed SLP-CF”

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. Continue reading “The Clinical Fellowship Experience”

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

Continue reading “Good Student or Good Therapist?”

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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