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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.

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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.)

So Friday was my three-quarters meeting (THREE QUARTERS!) and it went something like this.

CI:  So this is last 3 weeks of your internship.  On Monday, it’s all you.  You’re going to be a like a clinician starting your first job.  I’m just in the background if you have questions.

Me:  …. (Imagine a deer-in-headlights look)

CI:  Okay?

Me:  Um, sure!  Great!

And so it begins.  I have been running around crazy working on 1) the thesis 2) the job search (when I feel like I have it down…or at least most of it down, I will write up some tips.  I feel like I’ve made a million mistakes so that might be a loooong post.) and 3) trying to be an AWESOME independent clinician. (Note: This is always an ongoing process.)

Not much else to report on that I can think of…but if any readers wants me to write a post about some aspect of my internship experiences, post a comment and I will do my best.  Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for me to have a spare area of brain cells to sit and think about what I have written about and what I think might be interesting to write about.

This weekend, I need to:

  1. Edit my thesis.
  2. Re-write and edit the Discussion section of thesis so it’s ready to turn in on Monday.
  3. Edit my write-up of my externship experiences so I can email it on Monday.
  4. Fill out the stupid paperwork for the stupid review board.
  5. Figure out the number for and plan what I’m going to say when I call RIC.
  6. Identify new approach for contacting / impressing the places I have applied for jobs and will apply for jobs.
  7. Game plan for the final 30 days of my internship to ensure I am AWESOME and ASSERTIVE (the later probably leading to the success of the former.)
  8. Take a hike on the south trail.
  9. Soak up the sun.

And…go!

I try to cover both my ups and downs while externing here (see:  me dropping papers down the stairs and on to patients’ heads; running into doors; writing bad ‘A’ sections; grabbing the wrong jello and never living it down; etc.).  It’s just the truth of the matter:  sometimes you do great and feel awesome and sometimes you do stupid things that make you feel ridiculously embarrassed and/or self-loathing.

I prefer to laugh rather than cry; I usually feel better afterward.  But sometimes you need to cry.

I got my most recent draft of my thesis back a couple of days ago and the short version is:  MAJOR FAIL on the particular section this draft focused on.  I felt I wasn’t being assertive enough at the hospital, my ‘A’ sections had a couple of days of being more lackluster than usual, I was getting my application and cover letter for a particular job I am coveting, and, of course, it was time for my midterm evaluation.  It was a bit much, and a lot of one insecurity (my making a major mistake on my thesis) feeding into others (finding a job, those damned ‘A’ sections, general worry about doing well at my internship) and it’s kind of a vicious cycle.

So after a lot of flailing and general acting/feeling like I have never succeeded at anything in my life, I got home, had a good cry for about fifteen minutes, returned to my laptop, and (fingers crossed) fixed the mistakes on my thesis and re-submitted it.

The point is to pull it together, push forward, and try again.  (And maybe find something to laugh at to cheer yourself up.)

It has been really rainy where I am this past week, but tomorrow promises SUN and so I’m very excited about it.  The hospital I am at has the giant, gorgeous windows that allows at lot of sun, so I will be able to see it tomorrow despite actually being at work.

So, I continue to enjoy things immensely.  There’s still been a low number of new consults, so it has been kind of slow.  I am watching my hours like a hawk and trying not to have a panic attack over it.  (I still have 8 weeks left.)  (…But when I say that, it doesn’t sound like a lot.)

Today, I actually got assist in a cognitive-linguistic eval for a new consult, which was really nice.  I love the language and cognition stuff.  (My CI loves swallowing, which is awesome because I think you learn more from people who are passionate about their subject.  So I’m learning to be likewise awesome at swallow evals.)  Anyway, I got to help T with a cognitive-linguistic eval which was really cool.  All the cognitive-linguistic stuff goes to T because none of the other SLPs are interested in it  (CrazyIknowright?).  I’m excited I’ll get to follow her around when CI isn’t here.  (Or maybe even when she has a super-awesome cognitive-linguistic eval to do like today!)  T uses an interesting computer program for some of her eval.  I like it, because it’s a lot quicker than a lot of the cognitive stuff out there.  Although, in a hospital setting, you’d just have to pick and choose subtests anyway.  There’s hardly a test you would have time to give in its entirety.  But, as I said, it’s quick and dirty, and you can jump around to something else if it’s pretty obvious it’s an area they are not having difficulty in, or that they are having a lot of difficulty in.  I’m not recalling the name, but I’ll be sure and get it tomorrow and post it here.

I have also been working on my thesis in the evenings which has cut into my blogging time.  I just turned it in, and because my advisor is awesome, she turned it back around in a couple of days.  Now I have to work on it again, though.  Plus, apparently I completely failed to correct mistakes from the previous draft, so my advisor attached the last set of notes she sent me as well.  How stupid and embarrassing.  Even my idiocy at the extern doesn’t compare (e.g. running into walls, constantly dropping my pen, getting lost on the first floor, etc.).

Anyway, I promised I would write about stuff I’ve been doing.  Modified barium swallows, perhaps.  (Have I mentioned I love those?)  But not this evening…tomorrow!  The thesis/ job hunt awaits.

What I really want to do right now is fall down on my face, not go over the orientation materials I was given today (both physically go over and mentally go over).  But!  hopefully this will solidify it in my mind so I never have to look at this stuff again in the next ten weeks.

My day started early, since my ride needed to be there before I did.  No problem.  I can do early mornings, plus this person is giving me a ride every day, so their generosity cannot be extolled enough.  Anyway, I arrived safely at the rehab department with minimal disorientation.  (This is a victory; I am spatially challenged.)  I met a fellow speech student, an undergraduate, who was going to observe for the next week.  It was nice to have a friendly face during orientation.  Met the coordinator for interns and was given a brief tour of the parts of the hospital I would be frequenting, and met the two ladies in the in-patient services at least, who Know Everything.  So of course I committed their names to memory.  After that, we were escorted back to the Official Hospital Orientation.  (If I were more clever and/or less tired, I would turn this into a clever acronym like OUCH, or AUGH, or ZZZZZzzzzz.)

Basically for orientation they lock you and a bunch of other people in a room together for an entire day and force-feed you information.  Our guards were kind enough to provide both coffee and breakfast food, however.

We actually missed the first hour since it was mostly about payroll (and, apparently, taking pictures for our photo IDs, but I’ll come back to that later).  When we arrived, there was a brief welcome and then a short video about the hospital was shown.  It was kind of cheesy, but not a bad way to introduce the hospital and its mission to employees.  Then, the mission, vision, and goals were talked about in a little more depth in a presentation.  Pretty straightforward stuff.  The big picture was:  patient/family first.  I can get behind that.

After that was a break in which me and my fellow SLP student went to get our pictures taken for IDs, only to find out we couldn’t get that done until 1pm.  Very well then.  Back down the stairs to orientation.  (I am applauding myself at this point for not getting completely lost and turned around.  I usually suck at directional stuff.)

Next, there was a loooong talk about Compliance.  This is basically a long talk about legal aspects of working in healthcare.  Such as careful documentation to avoid healthcare fraud.  Not making false claims and purposefully committing health care fraud.  Apparently the federal government takes that very seriously.  It’s the Department of Justice’s #2 priority right behind terrorism.  Yeah.

Then there was a brief talk about safety and taking care of hazardous materials.  They gave information about where to report stuff (such as spills, wet floors, if you get injured on the job, etc.).  Then security came in and talked about parking permits and how they will help you if you have a problem with your car.  They also discussed the different “codes” and what they mean.  For example, “code pink” at my hospital is child abduction.  But there were other, more medical specific ones such as if a patient is found unresponsive, or simply injured but responsive, and so on.

After that, there was a blessed break for lunch.  I apparently chose some pretty poor apples to take to lunch this week and I don’t look forward to another four days of them.

After lunch, they introduced, briefly, the computer system at the hospital.  Apparently a lot of records and documentation at my hospital are on the computer (although, I hear it’s still in a transitional stage), and so we were each given a sign in name and password for the computers.  Once we are on the computers, our activity can be tracked to make sure we are in fact looking at ONLY the patient information we need to look at.  It’s part of the Health Information Protection and Accessibility Act (HIPAA) that a patient’s private information be kept safe and medical professionals look at only the portions that are relevant to their work.  I get an even more in-depth look at their whole electronic documentation stuff tomorrow morning, before finally seeing some clinical action.

After that, my fellow SLP student and I went to get our ID badges made and so missed the talk about recycling and all the other awesome environmentally friendly things the hospital does.  I lived in Oregon for four years, so I figure I got this.  I’m glad I’m in a place that is very supportive and active in being green, though.

Last (for the main part of the orientation anyway), came an overview of all the programs the hospital offers to help and its employees to stay healthy.  If I were working here, I would be very impressed.  I think it would be great to work in an environment that is actively encouraging you to lead a healthy life and offers programs to support that initiative

After that, all clinical personnel got to attend a Patient Safety Orientation.  There was actually mixed messages about whether or not we had to go as student interns, but we ended up going because the coordinator had said we were supposed to go.  I didn’t mind going, or anything, but it was at this point in the day where my face felt tired, so I was kind of generally grumpy and it was hard to think I could have left two and a half hours earlier if I didn’t have to go to this thing.

Anyway, it was pretty interesting.  I didn’t find most of it particularly applicable to therapists in general, but it was a nice reminder on how exactly to wash your hands to prevent spread of germs, and interesting to me, at least, how the hospital was continually evaluating and making environmental modifications to increase safety for patients.  For example, changing the drug cabinets in the operating rooms so that the drug labels faced upward, and not the bottle caps to reduce the likelihood someone would accidentally grab a drug that looked like the one they wanted, but wasn’t.  Also, I got to role play a doctor, so that was pretty cool.  (“Dr. Jackson speaking.”)

After that, I managed to find my way back to the main rotunda so that I could head out again.  (Really, I can’t express how much of a victory this is for me.)  Then a funny thing happened….

Well, I should back up to say that I did, in fact, get to meet my CI (clinical instructor) face-to-face for the first time earlier in the day.  So we had met and discussed where we were supposed to meet tomorrow after my computer orientation was done and then I had been whisked off to the long-suffering process of orientation.  Well, I was walking to the front to catch my bus, my brain like mush at this point, thinking about how pretty the hospital was (because it is!), and then I notice someone walking down the hall towards me with a friendly look that says, “I know you.”

I try to figure out why this face looked vaguely familiar without staring at them (and why they were looking at me like they knew me).   I’m pretty sure I startled and maybe even looked slightly confused when my CI greeted me, only then rapidly realizing IT WAS MY CI.  Whoops!  I think I recovered pretty quickly and we chatted for a minute.  I’m still shaking my head at myself though.  I mean, this is not exactly a new phenomenon for me. I reach levels of such mental tiredness (usually early in the morning or late in the afternoon) where my visual attention is completely shot.  I would probably walk past my own mother and not recognize her immediately; I am mentally turned inward and am not paying attention.  However, I would have preferred this had not occurred on my second meeting with my CI. (Or hell, with my CI at all.)

What a day.  Now off to read that paper on ethics and otherwise avoid thinking.

Approximately 13 hours until my hospital internship starts.  While I am by no means the mess I was while I was traveling (see:  previous post), I still definitely feel a nervousness that I did not feel for my school internship.  I don’t know if it’s because I had met my supervisor before starting my school internship, or that I really want to work with adults and in hospitals, or what, but I am quite antsy.  I’m trying to remember when I wanted to not screw up this badly.  Hm, probably on that phonology presentation I gave last semester where I apologized to the whole class for a stumbling start because I was “kind of nervous.”

And geez, I even know what’s coming tomorrow.  It’s all orientation to hospital policy things and they sent me an outline of what that would entail…and yet I envision sleeping poorly tonight.

In any case, over the past couple days I have worked on adding things to the literature review section of my thesis, subject section, and procedures section.  I’m hoping to go over and edit it with fresh eyes Monday and/or Tuesday and then email it off to my supervisor before the month is out.

Today I also:

  • reviewed the sections of the Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Exam (BDAE)  (it has the most unintuitive and cumbersome marking for the naming section; since when does “v” represent “semantic paraphasia”?)
  • reviewed the scoring for the Ross Information Processing Assessment (RIPA) (more intuitive, still somewhat cumbersome)
  • the muscles and nerves for swallowing (it’s almost like I think there will be a test the first day)
  • reviewed the 8 levels of the Ranchos Los Amigos Levels of Cognitive Functioning Scale (Ranchos scale)
  • reviewed the scoring and levels of the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)
  • packed my purse with the paperwork for my Clinical Instructor (CI), my paperwork for the hospital, my clipboard, my stopwatch, my flashlight, some paper, some pens, and gum
  • made the sandwich to take to work tomorrow

Yes, the life of a SLPing intern is filled with excitement!  Perhaps more thrilling tales after tomorrow….

I woke up at ungodly o’clock this morning so I could get to the airport to catch my flight.  I put in my contacts.  Correction:  I put in my right contact and tried to put in my left contact, only to promptly lose it to the bathroom floor gods.   Or perhaps it was the sink gods.  In any case, I could not find it and had to pull out an entirely new contact.  (Luckily, I had an extra left without a mate I could stick in my eye.)

Dressed, shoveled food down my throat, and brushed my teeth.  Out the door!  My wonderful, fabulous friend and roommate who agreed to also get up at ungodly o’clock to drive me to the airport got me there in record time!  I stand in the longest lines I have ever witnessed at this airport lines (I’m not kidding.  I have made it through check-in and security at this airport in under 40 minutes on two occasions.  At Christmas.) I suddenly realized while standing there, that I probably left my toothbrush back on the sink.  Well damn.  I texted my roommate to confirm, and she texted me back that it was sitting there on the sink.

Yet another thing to add to my “To Buy” list once I get settled in.  (I also was looking at the notes I took from my landlady on what I needed to bring and saw the words “need towels.”  I did not bring towels.  I do not remember talking about needing to bring my own towels.  Major FAIL on my part if I do.  I feel like I would have remembered something salient and important like TOWELS as something I should bring, but maybe not.)  I have bought some one-use brushes from the airport since I’m not entirely sure when I will make it to a store (cue: PANIC.  Like I’m not already feeling PANIC at the thought of starting my new internship.  Need to focus on taking things one at a time.  Not to mention how isn’t it amazing that the tiniest things set off PANIC?)

Presently, I am tired (and cold) and looking forward to trying to sleep again on the plane.  I can’t focus on any of the books I brought with me to read, and when I briefly considered reviewing my chewing muscles and nerves, what remains of my rational brain said, “Yeah. Uhuh.  Sure.”  Instead I’ve been staring blankly out the window and nodding off over my backpack.  Oh, to not feel completely freaked out and have a complete night’s rest!

Later

I did end up sleeping on the plane, and then most of the rest of the bus ride to my current place of residence, which will from now on be called Hill.  My landlady (henceforth referred to as L) kindly made us supper and then let me fall straight into my bed.  It’s been awhile since I’ve slept twelve hours.  I feel much better now, and even explored around the neighborhood some, although I am still too tired to go very far.  Perhaps I will explore more in the afternoon.

I am much less panicked now (still need a proper toothbrush, but not towels…small victories), but fully expect to feel panic again Sunday evening before my hospital externship actually starts.  In the meantime, I aim to work on my thesis some more, as I realized the end of the month is closing in and I loathe being rushed.  Also, I need to work on the job applications (!) I want to submit in the coming week.  Allons-y!

So, I finally got to spend a day in the language preschool.  It was awesome.  It’s days like these where I think, “Why do I not want to work with children?”  And then I remember I could not possibly do it day after day, week after week.  I like my adorableness fixes in quick shots!

This is actually the second language preschool I have had the opportunity to participate in, so it was interesting to compare and contrast.  For example, there were not clinicians for every child to stalk follow around and work language and articulation goals into each child’s every play moment.  However, there was a circle time that was similarly enriched with some sort of language activity.  Today, that activity happened to be rhyming.  Another similarity was that the children were encouraged to use as complete and grammatically correct sentences as was appropriate for their current level of development.  My favorite aspect of the preschool I visited today was that they cooked their snack, which is something they do pretty frequently.  I think it provides a good, hands-on activity, plus the opportunity to practice sequencing and following simple commands.  In the preschool at my grad school, I wish we had more more cooking activities!  The kids love it and it can be such a language-rich activity.

All in all, I had a fabulous time.  The two groups of kids in the preschool (the morning class and afternoon class) were a friendly bunch and pretty much assimilated me right off the bat, so I got to participate and interact with the children quite a bit.

Coming up:  final day of therapy, final day of evals, Praxis II, writing the thesis, getting read to leave for my hospital externship, really starting to hit those job applications.  I think the reason why my brain feels like it wants to explode is because my brain somehow thinks I should get these all done in the next week.  Not happening.  Now if only I can convince the panicked part of my brain to believe that.

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