Deciding to blog about SLP


I love to type my thoughts out. I started blogging in 2011 and it wasn’t about who would read it. It was that I had these opinions and ideas that no one else was saying or sharing. Nobody wanted to address the lack of real information in the SLP  graduate school world. It was all coming from one place – ASHA. While they certainly have their place and roll, that is by no means enough. Myself, Hanna B. SLP, and OliviaSLP were the only SLP students blogging.

People are searching, grasping for lines of truth from others who experience the same exasperation. I was fed up with not finding, and decided to share my own opinions. Who knew, 3 years later I’d have near 200,000 views and daily emails full of people wanting answers. I gladly answer each and every email, which lately, I’ve been receiving at least one every day.

I just read this question/screen shot from one of the blogs I read, and someone posed this question and then the response:

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Being the Youngest Expert in the Room


One thing about entering and graduating from a Master’s program at a relatively young age means that in a room full of experts, I tend to be the youngest one. It’s not a bad thing most of the time, and I’m probably the only one who quickly sizes up and estimates colleagues and parents’ age.  Sometimes, when I’m about to share my evaluation report or discuss a recent diagnosis, I get nervous. And I start running down my list of personally-perceived short comings; my gut reaction is to think of my age.

I’m 25 and in a position that allows me the responsibility to diagnose and plan courses of treatment for individuals who have difficulties with communication. 5 years ago my biggest responsibility was waking up in time for my dreaded 8:00 AM Philosophy class.  This CF year has been a huge transition in my life, both professionally and personally. I needed to mentally catch up with my new degree, new responsibilities, and new career.  I’m still working on it…obviously.

Walking into a meeting where I am the expert on the child, the expert on his or her language, I am supposed to gauge how the next year will look on our plan of action. I need to remember my skills and my strengths when those moments arise and I think my age makes me appear weak or uninformed. I’m young, but I have education and research on my side.  The experience will come in due time.

Until then, I am thankful for colleagues who share kind words about how well I do in meetings or how organized and on-top of things I seem. Only myself and you, my readers know the quiet inadequacies I need to overcome. Carry on.

YOUNGEST expert

SLP Clinical Fellowship – Honestly


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…

knight echo

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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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Blogging About Research – Phonemic Awareness in SLP Graduate Students


One of the perks of still being in graduate school means I have access to any and all journal articles since the dawn of time. Rachel at “Talks Just Fine” suggested a new blog installment where other #slpbloggers link up, and review current research within their scope of practice. I am all about this new venture! So, here is my first review of current research.

A Summary

Spencer, Schuele, Guillot, and Lee (2011) discussed the role of phonemic awareness in early literacy instruction, and how Speech-Language Pathologists have demonstrated increased ability for such skills. For instance, Spencer et al. (2008) evaluated teachers’ ability to perform phoneme segmentation; while teacher’s were accurate 55% of the time, SLPs were  75% accurate. So, why did the SLPs outperform classroom teachers?

In the current article (Spencer et al., 2011), the authors recruited 196 SLP undergraduate and graduate students at four Universities in the U.S.; Spencer et al. (2008) participants were the comparison group. Paper based phonemic awareness tests were administered to  students which evaluated (1) phoneme segmentation, (2) phoneme identification, and (3) phoneme isolation. The article also evaluated the type of coursework students had taken and how they contribute to phonemic awareness skill.

Overall, Spencer and colleagues (2011) found a phonetics course contributes the most to phonemic awareness skills, and may account for the discrepancies Spencer et al. (2008) found when SLPs were compared to educators.

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Developing an Opinion


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. heart balloon

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