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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!

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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!

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!

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?

(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.

So, I was doing some continuing education in FEES this past weekend. (Finding fun in sticking a small camera up your colleagues’ noses for two days.  Not sure what that says about me as a person.) It was a mix of speech-language pathologists working across of variety of (mostly) medical settings.

Nerd that I am, I liked to hear what it was like for each of them working across different settings. (Especially those working in long-term care facilities with trachs and vents! I mean, PEOPLE EATING AND SPEAKING ON VENTS???  I had an entire class on trachs and vents and my mind still  boggles.)

Anyway, in reflecting on the interesting information I had gathered about various clinicians’ job settings, I suddenly had a questions.

Q: Did I just miss an opportunity to network?

A: Yes.

Not necessarily in the job crawling sense (although if I were looking for a job, it would have been a good place to do it), but rather in a, Let Me Make Contact With People Who Know More About Certain Stuff Than I Do. Maybe the opportunity for me to do that was not particularly obvious to me because I already work with a good group of clinicians with whom I can ask questions. But that’s not true for everyone! And it’s also not true that everyone I work with happens to be an expert/have a lot of knowledge in a particular area that I have questions in. Not to mention if there comes a time in my life where I am looking for a new job. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some contacts in my back pocket?

The question is, how do I make that leap from chatting about my/their job/s to, “So can I call you sometime.” “Can I have your email address in case I ever have questions about X?”

Of course, not all of these SLPs were doing work that related to my current interests and activities in my own job (see also: people talking on vents.) But it got me thinking about future workshops or conferences I attend. Guess networking falls under one of my Top Goals of All Time: Being Assertive.

Does anyone else have thoughts on networking? Do you use it? How do you make (and keep) contacts? What do you use it for or have you used it for? How do you work exchanging contact information into the conversation?  Or is that last question an obvious sign that I am insecure and un-assertive? Guess I have a lot of work to do.

Having just got off the phone speaking to a human resources representative, I feel I should take a moment to nail home an important point about phone calls. (Which actually one of the SLPs at my hospital internship tried to drill into me weeks ago.  You can lead a horse to water, I guess….)

Sell yourself.

I completely just failed at that.  Reflecting on the conversation I just had, the rep was giving me plenty of opportunities for me to extol my virtues and I did not take the opportunity.

The plan? I’m going to write down what I consider the highlights of my resume; what I think makes me a unique candidate.  I am going to have this list handy so I can throw in as many as possible during my conversation with an HR rep, or leave as many as I think I can in a message.  The one near the top of my list?  That I am looking for a CFY.  If it turns out the job I just applied for is not open for CFYs, there may be a CFY position available that they haven’t posted yet and that they can tell me about.

Lesson learned.

The Facts:

  • Today was the case presentation that is the culmination of all my experiences at my hospital internship.  (It’s also an indicator I only have three days left at my internship.)
  • My case presentation was not actually a case study singular, it was a case study comparison of two patients. (Something quite new, at least over the past few months.)
  • I was nervous about the length since the times I had clocked over the weekend were less than awesome.
  • I had finally gotten the Powerpoint presentation to present  my comparison columns in the correct order (i.e. left to right–it had previously been bringing up the right column prior to the left.  Go figure.)
  • The presentation was first thing in the morning 8 o’clock in the morning.
  • I was to come early to get everything in order with CI.
  • I was presenting to the entire rehab department.
  • The presentation is not over until two particular rehab department members ask questions (that are either stupid easy or completely over your head depending on the mood).

What Actually Went Down

  • CI made the presentation Just in Time due to a hectic, crazy morning.
  • I was later than I meant to be to get things set up.
  • I was very nervous at the beginning.  More than I thought I would be.
  • My Powerpoint perversely decided to present my columns backwards even though I had it completely fixed. (Curse you Windows!)  And let me tell you, when you’ve rehearsed your presentation (i.e. comparison) order from left to right, going right to left is a bit of a challenge.  Especially when it’s unexpected.  Especially when it’s in front of a large group of people you really want to impress.
  • I said ‘um’ too much.
  • I used too much jargon. (This is another personal goal:  FAIL this time, but hopefully will continue to make progress on this in the future.)
  • I kept clicking the right click button instead of the left click button to move to the next slide.
  • I made some errors in distinguishing certain types of things from other things.
  • I only got a question from one particular rehab member rather than two before the presentation was officially over.

You win some, you lose some, right?  I’m so glad it’s over.  Another thing off the list!

(P.S. The next job crawling post  [The Interview] is about half written, so look for it in a day or two.)

I get to meet the most amazing, wonderful, interesting people in the this job.

Aspiring authors who need character studies?  I have all you need right here.

I get to hear their story, their experience, and their take on life.  I love it.  And that’s why I SLP.

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