I really thought about documenting my journey through the Clinical Fellowship (in Speech Language Pathology) better. It was hard to turn my intentions to actions while navigating through a new schedule and responsibilities. I doubted authenticity due to A) I’m not anonymous and B) I wanted to write something that would encourage others, but I didn’t want it to force the “optimism.”
HI, you brave soul that made it through graduate school!
In reality, there’s no one word to describe my experience; it’s not black and white. It’s been the joy of a parent tearing up because her daughter can pronounce her name correctly (“You gave her her identity”) to a young non-verbal patient dropping his pants and peeing all over the rug we were playing on because he didn’t have a word for “toilet.” It’s being terrified of sharing current levels of performance during an IEP meeting to sharing with team members the results of testing and making goals and recommendations with professional flair. It’s learning what it means to be a part of a “school culture,” including to state your name and keep saying your name until the staff begin to use it. It means having your mini iPad stolen in a school building 3 weeks after receiving it as a gift. It means hearing a student ask “Ms. Clarke, are you gonna get me today?”
Point is, every day won’t be a great day but there is something good to every day.
This has just been my experience. Nothing can really prepare you for your unique road to certification, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek to find the best setting for you. Hopefully graduate school externships helped you narrow down what you like and what you don’t like. There are things that you will have to learn on your own. What I can confidently say is, you can do it. You’ll get through it. And when you don’t know something, you’ll find an answer (the same way you HAD to when you were in graduate school.)
I am 3 months away from Certification; the last step to full autonomy as a therapist. Half of me wonders where the time went, the other half remembers how stressed I was during the search, the interviews and the on-boarding. The transition from waking up late and wandering into a classroom to having to be prepared for meetings and to speak professionally about what is best for a particular student given his or her disabilities. We wear many hats as speech and language pathologists. On any given day, you may be called to be a counselor, a disciplinarian, a motivator and a listener. Communication is tied into so many parts of our lives; it is easily taken for granted.
Even still, I wouldn’t trade this profession for the world. I can’t wait to see what new positions, heights and new little patients will teach me as I get some years in this field. Today I’m taking some time to relish in the process. Don’t forget to stop and be thankful for getting to this point, many wish and pray to be where you are. You chose a field that is full of life-long learning and you are well on your way.
Don’t stop pushin’,