Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Twitter Shared SLP Goal Bank

Last week one of the SLPeeps from our twitter group of friends came up with an idea that we thought was fabulous. She started a shared ever growing twitter SLP goal bank.

We all jumped on it quickly and with in a few hours we had over two hundred annual and short term goals. We have it categorized according to the type of disorder. From articulation to dysphagia, there is a little of everything. And they are in many different formats, from SMART to IEP based.

Of course we don't suggest that you cut and paste these goals for your students/client. All goals should be individualized for the person that your working with. However, it's helpful to have some sample goals so that you can get fresh ideas, or see how somebody else worded the goal. Even if you are a seasoned veteran you can still benefit from perusing though these goals.

How do you participate? Well, the twitter goal bank is on a shared google document. In order to get access you need to send a direct message to @albrechtjn on twitter. She then can share you the document at which you can share goals with the rest of us. I debated about posting the goal bank here in it's entirety, but we got concerned with copyright issues and such, but needless to say if you struggle coming up with goals or you just want a fresh perspective then I highly suggest you give it a try.

Again, what you have to do is get on twitter (if you don't already have a twitter account then you'll have to make one - don't worry, it's free and easily done). When you are logged on to twitter go to the following page: http://twitter.com/albrechtjn then you'll want to follow her. After she gets a chance to follow you back (unless you are spam at which you'll probably just be blocked) then you can send her a direct message to request access to the goal bank. The reason we're having you send the direct message is so she can get your email address in privacy. She'll never spam you, promise. After she emails you the invitation then you need to go to google Docs. I'm realizing that you probably also need to make a google account for this. That's not hard to do, easiest way to do that is to set up a Gmail account (also free) by going to http://www.gmail.com. If you hadn't made a gmail account then you'll be happy you did, it's the best email out there, but now I'm getting off on a tangent. Access your google documents at http://docs.google.com.

There are a few rules stated on the top of the document. Basically, label any goals you add, don't change anybody's goals except your own, etc, etc. You can also chat with other people viewing the file, which was fun for us when we discovered it.

If you have and questions you can leave me a comment or you can email me at pathologicallyspeaking(at)gmail(dot)com.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Our First SLP Giveaway!

Hey all!  Sorry I haven't posted in a bit- I've been sick, and then went out of town.

My Dynavox rep, Jeramy is awesome.  He comes to my office every couple of weeks at least and has been a huge help in so many areas!  Hew has helped with evals, insurance requests, training me and the other staff, and helping me stay on top of all their new stuff. I asked Jer if Dynavox would give us some good stuff to giveaway on our blog, and they said yes!  Here's what it is:

If you don't already have Boardmaker- you need to get it! These 2 cd's just have more pictures, words, and options. I use board-maker all the time and I don't even work with kids. I made communication/AAC boards with it, and therapy materials for patients with aphasia. Boardmaker II and Boardmaker III are for those who already have the basic software and want some extra templates and options. I highly recommend them!

To enter the giveaway you need to do the following:

1. (*Mandatory entry) Become a follower of the blog and leave a comment saying that you did so. (If you are already a follower, leave a comment saying so.)
2. For an additional entry share this giveaway on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, and leave a separate comment for each of those.
3. For another entry- check out Dynavox's website (HERE) and comment on one thing you learned.
4. Another entry for addition us to your blogroll (leave a comment saying you did).

***Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry!  We will pick a winner via random.org.  Contest ends midnight October 17th.  Good luck!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Newbie Advice for Educational SLPs

As quoted by Douglas Adams, the best advice for newbies is “Don’t Panic”. Very calm and comforting words which are easier said than done I’m sure. But you’ve been trained at a certified program, you are at least CFY ready (My professors always told me that their job was to at least get us CFY ready, if nothing else). So, trust your training and jump in head first.

(If you don’t know, CFY means clinical fellowship year, which is when you first start as an SLP working on supervision for the 36 weeks or so. It’s required to obtain your CCCs – Certificate of Clinical Competence, which you obtain from ASHA – American Speech Language Hearing Association. For more information go to ASHA’s website here. Of course if you are not in the United States, then your system is different and I haven’t a clue about your certification. I just wanted to add that for our international friends).

Now I’m a little slower than Kristin for getting blog posts out. I have 3 ½ very good reasons for being so and they range from 5 years old to still in the womb. So, I hope you are patient with me. Being a father of 3 comes with a lot of demands, but its also incredibly rewarding, but on with the blog post.

As for the job, being an SLP on the educational side, you’re in for a treat, but it won’t feel like it your first year. If you’re anything like me you’ll take a couple of hours in the beginning on each IEP (individual education plan). You’ll likely stay an extra 2-3 hours a day as well. There will be many times where you feel incompetent as a therapist, which is normal. (I still do much of the time).

So, relax, breathe and Don’t Panic. The nice thing about working in the schools is that you’re not going to hurt the kids if you make a big mistake. Its okay to be a newbie. Now I’m not telling you to go out and try to make as many big mistakes as you can, but you need to accept that you’ll make some at least. Speech Language Pathologists tend to be perfectionists, with a keen eye for detail. This is a great asset in our profession, but it makes the first year a little grueling. There’s a lot to learn and you’re not going to obtain perfection your first year (and probably not your second year… and probably… never). And that’s …. okay. Give yourself a little credit for what your accomplished and be a little self forgiving. And remember, there hasn’t been a single casualty from /r/ therapy in the history of speech therapy as far as I can recall.

Now as you get going you’re going to find your own way of doing things. There isn’t a wrong and a right way generally. For example, I’ve seen speech therapist do many many different approaches to making their schedule. Some like to have it out on paper, others like to have it on the computer. It really depends on your preference. In the beginning I like to write it out on paper with a pencil so it can easily be changed, then I start to put it into the computer. I had used an excel file to keep track of it, but now I use a private google calendar. I also have the dilemma of having to schedule 4 different tracks at a year round school (as well as a traditional school year preschool). This comes with a whole new host of issues that most SLPs don’t have to worry about. I’d say figure out what’s right for you. In a year or two you’ll have your own system down. I’d write more on this subject, but I think it deserves its own post altogether. Still the concept is important to know. Figure out what works for you.

There are many different things that you have to think about (scheduling, group therapy, IEP goals, homework, behavior system, etc, etc). And its easy for me to say “figure out what works for you”, but I know that wouldn’t have cut it for me when I was brand new. So, let me tell you something, idea thievery isn’t a crime as an SLP (unless you’re trying to make money off it, and that’s another matter altogether). Seriously, ask around what other SLPs are doing, then take what you like the most and try it yourself. You’ll find that SLPs love to share with other SLPs. Heck we just enjoy talking to each other, touching base with someone else who understands what we do. So, don’t be shy and call some of the other SLPs in the district. You might even ask if you can observe what they do maybe shadow them for half a day or something (this was the best thing for me, to watch veteran SLPs in action). Now there are probably several of you out there that don’t have much contact with other SLPs (the nature of our industry sometimes). I then suggest to do some professional networking. There are many networking sites out there such as facebook, twitter, linkedin, forums, etc. I personally like twitter the most (as you can read from this post), but the others I’m sure are just as good.

In the beginning I’d suggest to make friends with the faculty. You’ll likely have to compromise on several issues with the teachers and administration. Always put the students first, but remember that if there is a feud between you and the faculty of your school then you will really be miserable. I’ve only occasional had problems with teachers, never with the administration, but I’ve heard several horror stories. I really believe that they are the exception though, most often working in education means you get to work with great people who love working with children. To the most part you get to work with the cream of the crop. I love the staff that I work with.

You’ll find that you have to sometimes take work home with you, lesson plans, progress reports, goal writing, etc. That won’t completely ever go away, I don’t think. I know some speech therapists that don’t take anything home, but I’m not one of them. I’ve gotten a lot better in the last couple of years, but when it comes time to write progress reports it’s another story. I would suggest to try to keep that to a minimum if (and when) possible. I know you may be having a write an IEP the night before, or sometime you are desperately trying to get a lesson plan ready for a language group. I know, I’ve been there. However, if you are able to leave work at work as much as possible, your chances of burning out will drop significantly. I remember one of the courses that I was required to take in college for this degree was stress management. They taught us many stress relieving activities that can help you stay healthy and sane. Figure out you’re way to unwind, and do it frequently.

Now it's easy to let your focus on therapy slip. There will come a time when paperwork will try to take over, where you have too many IEPs to write with very little of time to do it (often times this comes in May & December where it seems like a lot of IEPs tend to land). You'll start your day feeling like your therapy time is getting in the way of other stuff. This is something you have to fight. Don’t worry, the IEPs will get easier to write. You’ll be an old pro in no time.

As Kristin has said, in the beginning you feel like a fraud. And the lingering feeling never quite leaves. I'm only now starting to feel somewhat competent as an educational SLP. I also agree that you need to appear confident (especially in IEP meetings). You really do know more than you think you do. Sometimes I doubt myself thinking "seriously anybody could do this therapy, how hard is artic therapy after all". But when I've spoken with teachers about doing some simple interventions with students I'm surprised with their reactions. They often are clueless about things I would assume were obvious. You really are your school’s expert in speech and language. No one there has the training you have had. Now don’t get a big head or anything, but remember – you are the expert.

I want to share one last thing that was suggested to me by my CF supervisor. Stay at your first school (if you can) only for a couple of years at most. The faculty in your first school (or schools) see you as new and inexperienced which is okay because you are at your first school, but once a person has established an impression of someone it's hard to change. If you go to a brand new school after a couple of years they'll just see you as a seasoned veteran instead of a newbie. Just an idea, it won’t be possible for everybody. It just so happens that my district is one of the largest in the country so we have a few schools. Its kind of nice to have a fresh start now that you’ve learned the ropes and have figured out the way you like to do things.

Remember it never hurts to ask questions. You still are a student in many ways, something that never really ends. You still need to further your education as much as you can, there is just too much to know in this field. Teachers and parents will ask you questions and will stump you from time to time (happens to me more often than not). Let them know if you don’t know an answer than you’ll do some research and figure it out.
It seems like my blog post has rambled off in my different directions. I just have so many thoughts in my head, but I’ve never been one to think in a linear fashion. I know the second I post this another good idea will pop in my head “Dohhh, I forgot to add that one thing.” If you have anything to add please do so. What were you’re big struggles your first year, or if you are in the middle of starting out, what are your struggles?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Advice for new SLPs: Kristin's version

One of you commented that you would like a post with advice for newbies.  Allow me to share my thoughts on the matter.

One of Bob's and my professors at USU seems to be a master in every area of Speech-Language Pathology.  She's a nationally-awarded authority on AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication, newbies!)  She taught our class on neuro-anatomy, cognition, and aphasia beautifully.  Also taught our childhood language class with expert detail and insight.  On the side she taught an awesome hands-on assistive technology class where we built adaptive furniture and devices ourselves, etc., etc.  She even became department head!  (Dr. F. if you're reading this, don't get a big head now.) 

I always think back to the time we were all nervously asking her ("The queen bee of speech-language pathology") just how competent we would feel when we got out into the field.  She said that for the first five years you feel like a fraud.  Coming from our SLP idol, this was comforting.  If she felt like a fraud for the first 5 years, we might just be okay!  So remember Dr. F when you've got that new patient or client with a rare neurological syndrome and you think, "Just a minute; I need to go hop on Google for a few minutes before I know how to proceed...."

I guess I haven't really given actual advice yet- just words of comfort.  Let me begin (again) by saying that confidence will be one of the most important things you can bring to your first job.  You don't want to start out by being apologetic, letting people know you are new and unsure, or sitting in the back of the team meeting and nodding quietly (you should always nod LOUDLY).  You are already more expert in your field than anyone else in the room, even though all you have to offer in the beginning is what you learned in class.  You know more than you think you do, and you need to make your presence known at your new job.  I say fake it 'till you make it. 

It took me a long time as an SLP to see the bigger picture in some ways.  To stop just surviving, and focusing on what I call, "doing speech therapy for the sake of doing speech therapy."  Do you know what I mean?  I didn't think about the other pieces of the puzzle, such as OT and PT goals, discharge problems, keeping up with the patient's medical changes, and knowing who would be the main care-takers, etc.  I think I just thought, "I'll do the best speech therapy I can for as long as they are here, and when they leave, I hope they have speech [insurance] benefits and keep doing it!"  My goal was to get through my documentation as fast as possible and get out of there (I worked looong hours as a CFY).  Now I can see how limited my approach was, and I have become a lot more holistic.  I think it's important to be aware of more than just what task you will bring to the patient today.  What you can do to keep other team members "happy" (I'm mostly speaking about MD's here.  More on this in a future post), what safety issues this particular patient needs to work on based on what the OT is seeing. Is the family trained?  What else can be expected/determined based on their specific diagnosis (e.g., they have terminal brain cancer- why are you working on cognition?), etc.  These are just a couple of examples of course.  Even as I write this I wonder if it will even be helpful, because at first, it may be all a new SLP can do just to get decent therapy done and get their charting done. 

Don't be afraid to ask questions.  Especially when you are a CFY.  Take advantage of the excuse you have, being new and all.  Call an old professor, ask a colleague, ask Bob and me :) (not that we have all the answers, it just makes us feel good that you asked), ask your grad school comrades, call and ask the company that makes the product (e.g., "Hi Passy-Muir.  Can you tell me if my trached patient should wear a speaking valve when he's eating?).  [Oh, and yes- wear when eating!] 

Read up!  I know, I know, it's so hard to find the time to read professional journals and articles.  Maybe you could just keep one in the bathroom.  Maybe you could start a journal club.  Maybe just read 1 page a day and high-light it.  I do a lot of reading and it has made a HUGE difference in my clinical skills and knowledge base.  My favorite and # 1 recommendation: (Bob, you will totally laugh at this) text books. 

Well, I could really go on and on.  I really like getting blog readers' requests because it helps me blog to your interests.  Let me know if this didn't answer your question and I'd be thrilled to do a "noob advice" post # 2!  I just hope I don't get a "TL:DR" here.

And you SLPs out there- what is your advice??

Upcoming posts: 
A sweet giveaway!
Bob's perspective on this same topic...


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We're still here

Just so you know, we're still poking about. We're in the middle of trying to figure out how we want to do this blog thing. I'm starting to write a post for newbie educational SLPs. I'm starting to test out some iphone / ipod touch apps that I'll be writing about. As usual, we always trying to come up with ideas to post about.

Oh, and we're getting a contest together, we already got somethings lined up for that.

Just wanted to let you guys know that we're thinking about ya. But you have to excuse us a little. I mean come on, September is like one of the busiest months for school SLPs (as you well may know). I'm up to my ears with work, but I'm committed to being a better blogger.

So, there are some things to look forward to in the future.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bob's moment in the lime light

Check out Bob's post on the ASHA blog!  http://blog.asha.org/2010/09/07/connecting-with-my-slpeeps-on-twitter/ 

It's very prestigious of him to be asked by them, I must say.

Any thoughts from our readers on networking via twitter?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Topic requests

Well, now that we're starting this blog, we're interested in your input.  What would you like to read about?  Let us know in a comment!

I'm thinking about posting some of my favorite therapy materials, AAC devices, ideas for therapy activities in certain areas, and how I feel about burn-out, etc.  I'm hoping Bob blogs about being a working dad, therapy ideas, behavior management, high caseload issues, Twitter networking, interesting cases, etc.  I guess some of the specifics I wish we could blog about are tricky what with HIPPA and all.

Well, this week was a full work week for me after a week-long vacation to Lake Powell Utah.  It was actually good to be back and also good to have a fresh new schedule of patients I didn't know yet.  I like the turn-over factor in the medical side of Speech-Language Pathology.  I think it helps me to keep things fresh and avoid burn-out (well, sometimes that is).

Well, more from me later- let us know your requests!!!