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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.



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.

I’ve been meaning to come back to this.  At first I was just to busy. (I got a job at a hospital!) And then I didn’t know what to write about. (People who blog about their jobs get fired from their jobs!)  I’m not sure I know exactly what I will write about, but there are a few ideas bouncing around in my head.

But for now, some thoughts on (greater than) one year past graduation and just past CFY.

1. It was (un)surprisingly a lot like grad school:  I felt very, very focused, but I also felt like a very, very hot mess.

2.  I asked a LOT of questions.  All the time.

3. I am never going to stop learning!  (Happy face!)

4.  I am never going to stop learning.  (Sad face.)

5. I love what I’m doing.

6. What in the world am I doing???

7. Fall down six times, get up seven.

8.  Ow.

Now, a year out, I am feeling unfocused.  I’ve lost the momentum of panic.  Now I have some measure of control; some understanding of the pattern of work; a very little bit of experience to look back on.  That’s a strange feeling.  The past three years have been a headlong plunge into the unknown with a tiny penlight that kept shorting out. And now I have the surprising luxury of taking some control of the direction of my life.

That is an incredibly empowering feeling.  And an incredibly terrifying one. What do I want to do this year?  What can I realistically accomplish over the next year?  I’m not sure, but I aim to find out.

It’s done (well mostly).

I have finished my externships. (The grade is even in!)  I defended my thesis.  (All that’s left is to get it bound and turn it in.)  I have a job interview.  (Now the petrifying process of preparing for it…and maybe even getting the job. Ha!)  I have the check list for getting my paperwork in line for my temporary license as a CF and then my CCCs. (Now to do it.)

For me, grad school, and in turn, the externships, have been a microcosm of life. Lots of work, long hours, the best friends you’ll meet to help you get through it, brief moments of relaxation that are duly treasured, and enjoying it overall despite the insanity.  The joy and pride of accomplishing something difficult and the low moments where you think you’ll never try to accomplish anything again. The stress and the silliness all wrapped into one.

Along the way, I thought I grew a lot both personally and professionally.  I was challenged by things I never expected, but also by things that I expect will challenge me for much of my life.  But at least I know what they are.

The biggest reward at the end?  Knowing that I still love what I’m doing.  That I can always look forward to speech-language pathologizing.

My advice to you this:

  • Words to live by:  Fake it until you make it.  Be less afraid.  Do it and you’ll be surprised about how often you succeed.
  • Laugh as much as possible, but cry (or however you relieve your feelings of failure) when you need to.
  • You always know more than you think you do.
  • Make contacts and keep track of them.  People are more willing to help you out than you might think.
  • Listen to what the people you meet have to say.  You’ll learn a lot from all of them, either patients or supervisors.  Sometimes it will be what to do.  Sometimes it will be what not to do.
  • Call back at the places you apply until you either have an interview set up, they’ve told you about another upcoming job, or they’ve told you that you are not what they are looking for.
  • Enjoy it.

Good luck!  I am off on my next big adventure….

So while I’m stuck in the airport waiting for my now hour delayed flight, (Love you too, weather!), I thought I would write up a short post about the post-resume/pre-interview time.  As in,

Q: What to do after you have submitted the resume and are waiting to hear back?

A:  You call a week later to follow up on the resume.

From what I hear, you should try to actually talk to someone within the department (i.e. the rehab manager, or an SLP who works there.)  I have yet to figure out how to manage this.  Probably because I become blind with panic when I get on the phone and am rarely convincing and professional sounding enough (I imagine) to be connected.  If I ever figure out how to do this in an effective manner, you will all be the first to know.  (Or you can give me tips about how to get this done.  Hinthint.)

Until then, at the very least, talk to a human resources (HR) representative.  In fact, within the HR department, I would even check and see if there is a specific representative who works directly with the rehab department, or, even better, with the SLPs.  These people usually have a better grasp on what is going on in the rehab department/SLP division and are usually much more helpful in the information they provide than the average HR person (who will say something like, “Yes we’ve received your resume.  The X person reviews them and passes them on to Y person who will contact you for an interview if your qualifications meet our needs.”)  That does at least let you know that it’s been received, but otherwise for all you know it’s lost in some HR limbo, never to be seen again. On the other hand, if you talk to someone who directly represents the department (or is in the department) they may be able to give you a heads up on what specific qualifications they are looking for and maybe even if another job opening is coming up within the department.  (They almost always know pretty well in advance of the actual posting to the website.) Also, if you are talking to an actual person who Knows What’s Going On, feel free to take the opportunity to try to schedule an interview time while you have them on the phone.

At the very least, the call to whoever you end up talking to, reminds the people there that you are interested in the job…really interested in the job.  And that’s a Good Thing.

Don’t get anyone?  Have to leave a message?  Feel free to call back again in a few days or another week to follow up that follow-up call.  Don’t think of it as annoying them, think of it as showing them how interested you are in working with them!  Questions?  Comments?

Only one more job advice piece to write on salary negotiation, and then…and then…a post or two wrapping up my final thoughts on this whole experience.  And then…we’ll see.

This last day I:

  1. …started the day just like any other.
  2. …turned in my name tag.
  3. …dropped things multiple times.
  4. …made a coherent recommendation to a doctor.
  5. …remembered why I love this.
  6. …got all my hours set in stone.  Now they just have to travel safe.
  7. …said goodbye to all the heads of department.
  8. …said goodbye to all the wonderful, intelligent, hilarious speech pathologists I have worked with.
  9. …said thank you, thank you, thank you!
  10. …promised I would visit and bring a car next time.
  11. …promised I would email.
  12. …started forming a whole new set goals and To Do list.
  13. …have half a bag of Milanos and one quarter of a Boston coffee cake.
  14. …threw away my black sensible-heeled shoes.
  15. …packed half my clothes in my suitcase.
  16. …have no coherent thoughts and can’t process a damn thing.

I can’t believe it’s all over.

(There are at least a few more posts to come, though.)