Work, Work, Work, Work…

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Last night, I stumbled upon a great article on Tactus Therapy about transitioning settings as a speech language pathologist (from schools to medical.) It’s very scary to think about making drastic changes, but I’m learning the older I get that without risk, there’s no reward. I think the most stifling feeling when it comes to work is the thought of being “stuck” or that you don’t have any options. Every speech language pathologist I’ve come in contact with, has chartered their own path. I love listening to “how I got here” stories. I’ve met veterans in school systems, private practice owners, doctoral students, clinicians who aspire to effect change on the state and local level by being active in State organizations, and I’ve read about SLP’s who have landed dream jobs abroad. Many hats, same passion.

I am also a Reddit lurker, because sometimes one can stumble upon the most provoking threads. In our field, sometimes it’s hard to find the answers you’re looking for by searching a simple Google question. I remember a big question that my graduating class had was realistic salary expectations coming out of school. I know there are many factors to consider (setting, hours, productivity, etc.), but I think having that information is empowering (especially in a female-dominated field where the N word is difficult.)  Salary is not something you go up to a professor and discuss casually, and we (as a class) got the feeling that it was neither “proper” or “professional” to expect a direct answer or number. But it sure would have been helpful. In my experience in reading Reddit threads, people are more willing to share numbers to strangers across the interwebs. The transparency is just one aspect that we may lose in the spirit of “decorum.”

I’m writing this because I’m recognizing very early that the school setting is not a long-term reality for me. I’ve learned a lot in the 3 years (one year CF, and 2 “on my own”) from 2 different school districts. I have a lot of respect for everyone involved with keeping schools running, however, it is not for everyone. It is a tiresome, thankless job that no one does for money. But you’ve probably already heard that tune. I think the most exciting question to answer is… so what’s next?

The aforementioned article closes with the the thought that one should “travel toward what excites them, not away from what scares them.” In other words, it’s all about perspective. Recognizing what’s NOT for you is just as important as what is. The journey is the fun part, and the plan is what drives the goal. This year, I am embracing the plan and not becoming overwhelmed by big tasks. I’m striving to take a step every day towards not settling, committed to staying fulfilled, motivated and present.

How do you stay motivated when finding the right work setting?

I remain,

She

Work, Work, Work, Work…

Highlights from Nassau, Bahamas

Hello lovelies! I am back from the service trip to Nassau, Bahamas. Four graduate students traveled from December 14th to December 21st to provide speech and language evaluations and hearing screenings to families on the island.

After our in-service workshop to parents

What I learned:

  • Although both are islands in the Caribbean, Haiti and the Bahamas are distinct in many ways. By many standards, the Bahamas is wealthier. They are economically driven by tourism and there is access to services. Whenever there is a shortage of those specialized services, parents have the option of flying to Florida to receive the care that they need. In Haiti, they are still struggling to rebuild their economy after the disastrous earthquake of 2010. Not only are the services scarce, but people don’t have access or the opportunity to seek the care their children need as it relates to speech and language services.
  • When I took into account the fact that “service” is relative to where you are traveling, I had a clearer perspective. In the Bahamas, there is a shortage of speech and language therapists. Families wait on long waiting lists to receive evaluations and diagnosis, early intervention efforts or laws to protect children with disabilities do not exist.
  • I grew so much as a clinician as I was afforded many firsts: family intake interviews, learning how to use iPad apps for evaluations, early intervention (0-3 years old) evaluations and an in-service workshop for families in which we talked about what a communication disorders are and how they affect special populations of children (for example; children with Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders and strokes).
Language evaluation using an iPad app.

How I grew as person:

  • Patience. Working in a group and learning when to speak up and when to fall back. My whole graduate school career has revolved around group projects, and although I understand their importance, I also can’t wait for the independence that will come when I’m a certified clinician!
  • Learning to take constructive criticism on the spot and applying it.
  • Learning that I shouldn’t be so eager to speak for others. Allowing people to learn how to speak for themselves.
  • Understanding the type of traveler that I am, and the type of people I feel most comfortable traveling with.
  • Choosing my words wisely, and maintaining something I learned while working in hospitality called “charitable assumption”– the idea that I will think the best of someone, and not the worst, when a situation arises and their motives are not known or clear.

Overall, I am thankful for the experience. I grew professionally and personally. I have one more semester left in graduate school, can you believe it? I started here, and now graduation is in sight. These two years have not been easy, and I still have some hurdles in front of me, but nothing I can’t handle without my great team of support, God, and hard work.

Thanks to all my faithful readers on the journey! I appreciate all your words of encouragement, your silent prayers, and your belief in me!

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Happy New Year,

She

Highlights from Nassau, Bahamas

A Week in the Life…

of a first year Speech Language Pathology graduate student (2nd semester).

studying

 

[photo credit]

MONDAY, February 10th

12pm Independent Study Class. Work on research project that will be presented as a Poster Session at the National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing conference in April.

4:10pm Neurogenic Speech Disorders Class. We learn about the “neural structures that are responsible for speech, the types of neurogenic disorders that impair speech production, and appropriate assessment and treatment strategies for ethnically and culturally diverse patients with motor speech disorders.”

6:40pm Early Intervention Class. We learn to assess and treat language disorders in children ages 0-5.

Day ends at 8:30/9pm.

TUESDAY, February 11th

8:30am-3:30pm Clinic at Charter School

(Administer assessment to student [Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-4], provide therapy for remaining caseload of 8 students)

4:30pm- 5:30pm Aphasia Support Groups (adults)

6:40pm-8:30pm Stuttering TEST!

Day ends at 8:30/9pm.

WEDNESDAY, February 12th

12:30pm Brown Bag Lunch with Occupational Therapy students. (as part of Clinical Practicum class)

4:10pm- 6:30pm Sociolinguistics Class. We learn the basis for “understanding language and cultural variation and applications for the clinical process in communication disorders.”

THURSDAY, February 13th

12pm Review Assessment for Comps (Independent)

Study for upcoming Neurogenic Speech Disorder midterm

FRIDAY, February 14th

9am Early Intervention Observation- Home visit.

Then I wake up the week after and do it all over again!

What’s a typical week look like for you?

A Week in the Life…

[Preaching] Break

Dear Future Graduate Student,

If you’re anything like me, you’re an over-analyzer. You do your research before you dedicate to anything, or at least anything that will require substantial time or money. Graduate school is just like any academic endeavor; it’s not a light decision. It will be trying and it will stretch your human capabilities, but hard work does reap great benefits. Your hope is that the reward or end result will reap fruit for years to come. Future graduate student, whether you’ve been accepted/rejected or pending/preparing… I believe in you.

Even if you don’t feel like you measure up, or that you’re not smart enough. Push.

Can’t afford graduate school? Apply.

Second-guessing yourself about your career path? Pray.

Feel like you’ll never get into your dream school? Lies. And deception.

My point is: don’t limit God.

I’m a living testament that God works. How so? A few months ago, I applied to 4 graduate schools, and received 2 rejections. My self-esteem dropped real low when the same institution I had received my pre-requisites from didn’t accept me! Little did I know that rejection led to notice that I had gotten accepted to the last 2 schools. It’s not over until the fat lady sings, as they say.

The kicker is that I got accepted to my dream school. Knowing I could never cover tuition (even with a loan) I applied for a fellowship, and I got it! As long as I keep my GPA up– I’m covered until I graduate. You can’t tell me God doesn’t exist.

We have an advocate working on our behalf all the time, even when feel alone, forgotten and unworthy. Just step out on faith, and expect God to show up!

It has taken me a while to OWN my blessings, to understand THIS is the time, my future has begun. I’ve been hesitant to say where I am at this point in my life. But I can’t hide it anymore.

I’m a first-year graduate student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program at a Historically Black University.

I’m a graduate clinician.

But above all,

I’m happy.

Future Graduate Student- so can you!!

[Preaching] Break