You can get the full run-down at the ASHA website, but the basic run-down is that Congress wants to cut funding for IDEA because…I don’t know. It creates jobs or something? Early intervention probably isn’t important anyway, right? Or maybe it’s because public schools are drowning in a sea of cash.

In any case, it’s cutting funding for school programs that usually need more money, not less. Oh, and keeps us employed.

So go write to your Senator and/or Representative!

I have been pondering on and off this past week what to write in my final post on what makes me a ‘better’ clinician. Initially, I was annoyed that I was even thinking about it. I had taken a long weekend off, away from work, and so I was trying not to think about work.

And then it all became very obvious. Breaks make me a better clinician!

For three days straight, I did not think of work. Or if I did, I quickly banished it from my mind. (I admit, on the first of the four days I took off, I did do some thinking related to work, but it was very relaxed, on a subject I have a passionate interest in, and I stopped when I started to get tired.) It. Was. Glorious.

The magic of Taking a Break did not happen right away. My first day back at work was exactly like a first day back at work after a break. What am I doing here? Why is it so hard to focus on researching patient histories? Professionalism? Where did I put that…I’ve been acting goofy all weekend. Whyyyy am I soooo busyyyyy?

But then, suddenly, the second day back, my mind was filled with 10 million (exaggeration) new activity ideas for my clients! Now the only problem is to find the time to put some of them together. But it made me feel like I was an SLP again; not some robot-SLP going through the motions and drilling cards with children for eight hours a day.

Happy Better Speech and Hearing Month!  …and take a break!

There are moments in the madness that it is worthwhile to remember the joy in SLPing.

The excitement of starting a new patient and thinking of the potential he/she holds.

The excitement of being a hop, skip, and jump away from discharging a client you have had for years.

The excitement of a patient making progress on the one goal you’ve been working on forever.

The hilariousness of stuff my kids say.

Watching the wonderful, heart-warming interactions of supportive families.

The excitement of having a honest-to-God break from it all coming up.

I love SLPing.

 

 

After recovering from the haze of pure JOY that is having two consecutive days off in a row, I remembered I will be getting a new client with a disorder that 1) I have worked with only once before and 2) that I don’t know that much about from the evaluation and treatment section. All I have in my brain are the Facts that I learned about in one of my classes. And I plan to review those because I’ve slept a few hundred times since then.

It’s Better Speech and Hearing Month and I have been trying to reflect on things about what I do in my profession to make things better.  One of the most important components to our field is providing evidence-based practice, which can be a challenge because 1) there isn’t always a lot of information about the most evidence-based approach to treating a particular disorder and 2) there is so much breadth to cover in our field, unless in a job that allows specialty in one or few areas of disorders.

Where do I even begin? I love my job and what I do and I don’t mind spending a little bit of time outside work answering questions I have about evaluation and treatment of disorders, but I must have boundaries and I refuse to spend much of my free time on All the Things SLP. (Even though sometimes my perfectionist side tries to push me into SLP overdrive.)

1) First, I look through my grad school notes.  I read the Facts again. I also skim for names of specific authors and/or studies that I can then search through the ASHA website, or, try to access the articles through the library at work.

2) Search the ASHA journal database. The tricky thing is figuring out what keywords to use. Not to mention I don’t think much of the advanced search function on the ASHA journal database. (It does not allow me to use some of the awesome lit search skills I learned as an undergrad.)

3) If I have any colleagues who are familiar with the disorder, I ask for advice, or specific books, or specific articles to read.

Perfect? Probably not. Especially since I don’t have access to as many journals and academic databases as I did in grad school. But it does let me at least skim the surface of the most recent evidence available.

Happy Better Speech and Hearing Month!!!

Where did April go? Did I even post in April? April was ridiculously busy for me. April was simply a mad rush to May at work and my schedule was wide open. Wide. Open.

In any case, April is over, Better Speech and Hearing Month is here. In honor of “better,” I’m going to list some things I feel accomplished about this past stupid month.

  • I learned how to place a trachoesophageal prosthesis.
  • I successfully executed my moving-target schedule 90% of the time.
  • I interpreted two FEES.

Well, it’s not a long list. But it’s more than one. And May stretches ahead with many opportunities to be accomplished. Let’s celebrate the beginning of Better Speech and Hearing Month by posting things we feel accomplished about as speech-language pathologists.

Aaaaand…go!

There is a lot of variety in speech-language pathology. One can specialize by population (adults versus pediatrics; and even pediatrics can be broken down into birth to three, early childhood, and school-age), or by disorder (although jobs that focus on even one or two disorders are more difficult to come by).

I am all over the place, I work with adults, with children, with swallowing, early childhood language, phonological disorders, aphasia, cognition…and the list goes on. A question comes to me a lot: Can I do the best I can, give the best therapy and information possible, when I see so many types of patients? (The giant thought-bubble that hangs over my head during therapy where I’m not sure where I’m going with a patient: “AM I PROVIDING EBP?”)

I am undecided on this question. I do not want to accuse therapists who do work across a variety of different orders of doing a bad job. I like to think I do a good job, although I think I can do better. (This is probably because I haven’t been SLPing for very long.) And I also don’t want to deny my colleagues one of the cool things about our field: that there’s so much to learn, so many different opportunities, and one can change the course of their career to fit their interest or lifestyle.

But when I talk to other SLPs who have been focusing their energies on one area, or a much smaller area, for a long time, their knowledge on a particular subject amazes me and makes me wish I could have that much knowledge about things. (Well, let’s get real, I would love to have that kind of knowledge about All The Things SLP, but that’s probably not possible.) I don’t know if I could ever know as much as I should about all the different disorders I see now. Maybe I don’t have enough years of practice and perspective on this to know if it is possible. Sometimes I feel like there is outside pressure for me to do All The Things SLP. Again, this might be my Type A personality projecting my stress of being a new SLP onto my daily life.

What do you think? Do you think it is better for professionals and our profession as a whole to specialize? Is it better to be a sort of SLP-of-all-trades? Does anyone have advice for reconciling a Type A personality with the expectation of doing All The Things SLP? Is it even realistic to expect everyone to specialize? Is it nice in our field that some people can specialize if they choose to, while others seek out the jobs that require therapy for a variety of individual with various disorders?

Some weeks just come up to you and punch you in the face. I still don’t know what happened, but I know I have a lot of planning to do.

It’s been a wacky up/down week. The main issue I need to solve (or in Type-A-Personality-Speak: Organize, organize, organize), is how to better manage my now bulging out-patient schedule. (Which, of course, immediately defies it’s own immensity by having half of my patients no-show today. But…that’s probably a rant for another post. My fellow out-patient SLPs can relate, I’m sure.)

I have a few patients who require additional set-up and break-down time and I am struggling to work this into my schedule without throwing off other parts of my schedule that are already established.  Plus I need to find some very simple hands-on craft activities and learn All The Baby Signs. ALL OF THEM.

Did I mention this week punched me in the face? Time to spend part of the weekend brainstorm ideas. And then maybe blogging about them.

Ever have one of those moments where you think you’re having a Perfectly Normal Social Conversation when you realize those involved in the conversation have asked a really good question about something you happen to know about that’s specifically related to your job and you’re suddenly vomiting up All The Knowledge on them?

Yeah.

Anyway. I was fact-checking myself later because I had an insecurity panic attack about All The Knowledge I had shared wondering if I had word vomited wrong information, and I realized something: I love being an SLP because I get to learn new stuff all the time. I mean, I get paid to be nerdy about stuff I love. How awesome is that?

So I had been working on an entirely different post this week, but decided to opt for a completely different piece because the other one seemed unpolished and unfinished.

I might have mentioned I work at a hospital where I sometimes work in the acute setting and sometimes in out-patient care. Some days I jump back and forth between both. Some days, it’s almost as though I don’t get anything accomplished in either place. On the other hand, the idea of sitting still in either setting puts my type-A personality on edge.

I’ve been doing this over a year now, and while it has gotten easier to switch between the two (switch populations, switch ages, switch my brain), I am still searching for that balance. If I really love something (and I love SLPing) or if I really want to succeed at something (and I really, really want to be a kickass SLP) I throw myself into it. In a sometimes-kind-of unhealthy way. (In fact, I should add to my goals: take some frigging vacation even when you don’t have anywhere to go.  Ahem. Anyway.)

In that way, it’s probably a good thing, especially this early in my career, that I have to keep hopping back and forth between many very different SLP-type things. I can obsess about twenty different types things all at the same time!  I mean, I can work hard towards balancing my time among all the different things I do.

Now I realize I am not a special snowflake who spends their SLPing jumping around between adults, children, swallowing, voice, evaluations, treatment, phonological disorders, playing Simon Says  to giving families the facts about NPO versus signing a waiver given the risks of aspiration. What do you guys do for balance? Does it get easier? Does it get harder? Do you think you provide the best care possible to so many different types of patients? (I know this is something I worry about all the time. I can’t be an expert at everything, can I?) Do you ever feel like banging your head against the wall? Oh, wait. I guess that’s all of us.

(Full title of this post redacted for brevity and pithy-ness: “This post might be cheating as a real post with substance, but it’s true.”)

While reading a book by Steven Pinker, I came across this fantastic quote.

This should pretty much be every grad student’s mantra when making lesson plans and remind us all on bad days that our patients are, above all, human.

“…the Harvard Law of Animal Behavior: ‘Under controlled experimental conditions of temperature, time, lighting, feeding, and training, the organism will behave as it damn well pleases.'”

Word.

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