The SLPA Option

With my imminent GRE date approaching I am starting to seriously panic about my future.  I can’t help but wonder what my  steps should be if I don’t score well on the GRE and ultimately don’t get accepted into a grad program (my heart is pounding as a type out this sentence!).

I’ve heard about Speech-Language Pathologist Assistants (SLPA) before and figured I should dig a bit deeper to learn more about this option.

An SLPA is defined by ASHA as: “support personnel who, following academic coursework, fieldwork, and on-the-job training, perform tasks prescribed, directed, and supervised by ASHA-certified speech-language pathologists.”   Throughout their page, they emphasize that an SLPA is strictly there to support the SLP – they only perform tasks designated to them by the SLP they are working under.

In order to become an SLPA ASHA has provided a list of minimum recommended qualifications: academic study (the equivalent of an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology or communication disorders), supervised fieldwork (at least 100 hours completed with a licensed SLP), and on-the-job training (specific to where you will be working and what will be expected of you).    These are just an overview of what an SLPA should have – every individual state has different regulations for support personnel.  One helpful page is ASHA State-by-State which provides a link to each state and informs you whether or not the state allows the use of SLPAs.  It also provides links to gain more information about the rules the state has in terms of SLPAs becoming licensed, how many support personnel an SLP is allowed to supervise as a time, and further resources to help you find the correct path towards becoming an SLPA.

As I’ve mentioned, not every state allows the use of support personnel; not every state license SLPAs; and there is no set guideline for how to become an SLPA.  This may be a viable option, especially if graduate school is not possible for you at the moment, but it will require a lot of research to understand and fulfill all the requirements.  I stumbled across this Facebook group for Speech-Language Pathology Assistants that appears super helpful!  True to the SLP community, the members of this group are willing to answer any questions from other SLPAs and potential SLPAs.

I’d love to learn more about this option, so any SLPAs out there or anyone with anymore helpful tips please let me know!

 

xx. Victoria

That’s So Pinteresting!

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I have to admit, I am a Pinterest addict.  As a lover of food, fashion, and all things fitness, I find myself on this website multiple times a day discovering new things.  As I mentioned in my About Me section, I decided to start blogging because I love how social media has begun to play a huge role in the field of Speech-Language Pathology.  Pinterest is no exception to this!  I have found so many helpful links – new therapy ideas, advice from other SLPs, links to different blogs – that I would probably never have found otherwise.  What makes this site more appealing is that all this information is organized in such an easy-to-view way!  I myself have an entire board dedicated to all things SLP and follow some other SLP pinners, including S.O.S. Inc. Resources and ASHA.  But my favorite thing to do is enter different searches, such as: slp, slp2b, speech-language pathology, slp ideas – basically anything involving “slp” – and then see what pins come up.  Its amazing how many wonderful ideas the individuals in this field have and I think its so awesome that there is a platform that allows everyone to share their ideas with others.

I definitely recommend any SLP or aspiring SLP to join Pinterest and start pinning these awesome resources!  You never know what could potentially help you in the future!

 

xx. Victoria

The Importance of Internships

The other day at work, I met a new member at the club and we got to talking about my education and future plans.  The one word of advice this member had for me was to get an internship – he said that it would absolutely help me land a job in the future.  While I couldn’t agree with him more, I can’t help but notice how difficult it is to obtain an internship as an undergraduate in the field of speech-language pathology.

When I first set out to gain experience in the field, any internship I found was reserved for graduate students, only.  Feeling a bit discouraged, I decided to google speech-language pathologists in my area and started emailing and calling as many places as I could.  This method has been the most beneficial for me, and thus far I’ve had two shadowing experiences and am currently a SLP volunteer/intern at a hospital.

I’m wondering if anyone has advice on gaining more experience in the field as an undergraduate?  How have you landed different opportunities?  Or if you are a SLP, what would recommend us undergrads do to gain experience?

 

xx. Victoria

Cochlear Implant on TODAY

Every morning, I start my day with a rather large cup of coffee while I watch the TODAY show.  This morning, there was a segment that was particularly interesting – it told the story of Sarah Campbell, a 57 year old grandmother who just had cochlear implant surgery and actually had her implant activated live on TV.

Deaf woman hears her baby granddaughter laugh for the first time, live on TODAY

The segment was great, discussing her life thus far as a hearing impaired teacher, the struggles she faced, and the real expectations she has with this surgery.  Often times, I feel like people expect a cochlear implant to perfectly mimic a normal hearing ear – allowing a hearing impaired individual to hear exactly as a normal hearing individual.  It was refreshing to hear Mrs. Campbell blatantly say that she is aware that she will never be able to hear like “normal” people but that she just wants to hear a bit better.  One of my favorite parts of the segment was when Mrs. Campbell stated that she could hear herself talk, and she seemed genuinely surprised that she could; her audiologist had to clarify that everyone could hear themselves talk.  Isn’t that something we all take for granted?

xx. Victoria

Inspiration

“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that
when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the
clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.”        – Jim Rohn

 

Beautiful advice.

xx. Victoria

The Struggle.

So, I’ve just returned from vacation – which was beautiful…here’s a little peak.

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This past week I spent a lot of time with younger kids and I kept talking to my boyfriend’s family about my plans for the future (I can’t even tell you how many times they brought up the fact that I’m a senior).

I’ve been thinking even more about whether I want to work with adults or children.  Previously, I was dead set on NEVER working in the school system – I hated the idea of being  in a school for some reason.  Recently though, I shadowed at an elementary school and loved everything about it.  I was completely shocked – the therapist I shadowed was wonderful, loved the hours she worked, and loved the environment she was in.  When I shadowed in a private practice, the therapist only worked with children/teenagers and I also loved that environment, especially the sessions where we worked with autistic kiddos, although I doubt I’ll be able to go straight into a private practice after graduate school.  I spent a bunch of time with my boyfriend’s younger cousins (age 4-8) and I have to admit that I love kids and I could totally see myself working with them.

If you had talked to me during the past school year I would have said that I wanted to work with adults.  I am fascinated by the rehabilitative aspect of speech-language pathology.  I find traumatic brain injury and aphasia incredibly interesting and spent an entire semester writing a paper for my writing course that discussed the use of music in the rehabilitation of aphasia patients.  When reading research articles, I always find studies that work with adults more interesting than those that focus on children.

So basically, I’m torn.  I know that I don’t have to officially decide right now, but since I’m getting even closer to graduate school application time I want to have a better grasp on whether I want to work with children or adults.  Having a better idea of this will help me further narrow down what programs I want to apply to, so this step is crucial.

xx. Victoria

Hydrocephalus & Insurance Woes.

Another morning spent volunteering, another afternoon spent learning about new things!

At the hospital this week, I worked on filling out the admission/discharge forms of a few patients that are required by ASHA.  I noticed that a few of the patients, all of whom were adults, were diagnosed with hydrocephalus – a disorder that I typically thought was found in children.  Naturally, I’ve been spending some time at work (it’s a slow day..) getting a slightly better understanding of hydrocephalus.

Hydrocephalus is an excess of fluid (cerebrospinal fluid, to be exact) in the brain causing an “abnormal widening of spaces in the brain called ventricles.” (here!)  It is true that hydrocephalus is more common in children but there are adults that are diagnosed with it!  Adult patients will have a bunch of different symptoms, each varying by patient, but what SLPs will typically deal with are the cognitive-communication effects, like on memory.  The patients that I was filling out paperwork for were working on their memory and in some cases on their attention span.

Something that caught my eye while filling out the discharge forms was that a number of patients were unable to complete the goals they had established at the beginning of their therapy because they had to stop treatment due to insurance issues.  It must be so frustrating to work with a patient and then abruptly have to stop once the insurance company decides to stop funding the sessions.  I know basically NOTHING about how insurance works in terms of speech therapy sessions but it just doesn’t seem fair that people can’t afford to get the help that they need, especially if they’re really motivated to work on it!  A lot of the notes on the sessions were about how motivated these particular patients were and how they wanted to continue their sessions so that they could live better lives!

Here are two sort of helpful links in regards to insurance and speech therapy:
About Health Insurance
Common Reasons Why a Speech Therapy Claim is Denied

xx. Victoria