For all you new, soon-to-be, or veteran SLP’s out there, I want to share my top 3 speech pathology tips if you want to be successful at your job and lower your stress levels.
Now, of course, to be successful you must learn everything a speech pathologist must know: dysphagia, articulation, language disorders, evidence based practices, assessment, therapy....you get the idea! You MUST know this stuff forwards and backwards obviously.
However, just knowing your sht isn’t going to cut it.
Be kind. This is my number one rule of thumb for work and life and THE MOST IMPORTANT speech pathology tip and the one that is easily forgotten due to the stress of the job. We forget to be understanding and kind.
However, being a nurse is HARD. They have a lot of patients, doctors orders, pain management, families calling, Dr. Google monitoring their every move, etc.... Have you asked how their day is going? Have you told them you understand their job is impossible and are amazed that they do it so well? Have you thanked them for screening your dysphagia patient? Sympathy and empathy go a long way. When you show you care, most likely the other person will be willing to help you when you need it. They will be on your team and your patients will prosper as a result.
Being a teacher is one of the hardest jobs in the world, I could never do it! Have you told your teachers that you are impressed that they are able to handle 27 kids all day long? Have you told them that they are doing a great job including your IEP students in group discussions? Have you thanked them for communicating progress with parents? Teachers have over 20 kids ALL DAY LONG. They have pressure from administration, testing requirements, parents who know everything, students with behaviors, 27 different learning styles all at once, no plan time...it is HARD! Offer sympathy. Tell them they are doing a great job! When teachers know you care, they will care about you!
Being a parent is THE HARDEST JOB, especially parents who have special needs children. Make sure they know they are doing the best for their child. Maybe that manicure is the only thing keeping their sanity. Be kind and let them know you are on their team.
HOWEVER, DO NOT BE A PUSHOVER. You must kind and empathetic but NOT take on too much. Know your limits. Remind parents of your cancellation policy (kindly). When people are treated with respect and kindness, they will respect you.
When we meet a parent, a teacher, a nurse, a child, really anyone...we make assumptions (consciously or not).
Listen when a teacher says the child is not able to answer WH questions in class. Let’s say you know that a certain child can answer questions in a small group or in the speech room when cued; however, the teacher says the child is not able to answer WH questions in class.
Let's say a patient is coughing during meals despite consistent use of swallow strategies.
Okay, now that you are kind and a good listener, it is time to be flexible. I have noticed that this can be difficult for many medical professionals but it is necessary. We know our stuff. We are able to assess patients, design treatment plans, pick out evidence based treatment techniques/programs based on learning styles and goals, treat, update goals, and dismiss when needed.
The only caveat in this plan is the patient...every patient is different and unpredictable. Every patient has different needs, goals, and learning styles.
We may walk in with our “plan” but we need to be FLEXIBLE too!