Surviving Graduate School

A Speech Language Pathology Grad Student's Point of View

Feeling loved!

Posted by survivingslp on October 26, 2010

I’m totally feeling loved at my off-site.  I found a few articles for one of the SLPs there through my University’s Data Based.  It only took me about 30 minutes to find most of them (the others I didn’t have access to).  Well, today I came in and there’s a cute little card and a Starbucks Gift Certificate!  N.  was so sweet to do that for me!  I really wasn’t expecting anything for my time and I did it just to help her.  It was such a sweet gesture.

My supervisor continues to sing my praises, even to the other SLPs that work in the same practice.  N. doesn’t want me to leave either.  Perhaps between H. and N. they can appeal to the powers that be to get me a job… that would be so fantastic.  I absolutely love the private practice I’m at… I don’t want to leave it!

It really feels great to know that your supervisor has every faith in you and that she feels more than comfortable leaving you alone with clients.  I feel very justified that I’ve found my calling.

In other news, we’re currently doing a resume project for my practicum class at the University.  We were required to write a resume and a cover-letter to any setting of our choice (and of course I chose my private practice).  Now, this hasn’t been graded yet, but I’m attaching the bulk of my resume (with identifying information blocked out) to give an idea of what it could look like.  We had an entire lecture on resume writing.  I may do an entry about that in the future.  I didn’t find it that difficult, but it took a while to get the look and feel I wanted.  Now, obviously I’m missing my last practicum site.  This will be added once I actually start that off-site and begin sending out resume’s in about March.

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Bureaucratic Nonsense!

Posted by survivingslp on October 22, 2010

I wanted to take a moment to talk about obtaining your license in SLP.  Now, since I’m based in Texas, this will only really apply to those in Texas… but I think it could be translated to those in other states… honestly not sure.

Getting your license is extremely confusing.  The State of Texas doesn’t know what a “CFY” is.  ASHA has nothing to do with getting your State License to practice SLP.  And there’s paperwork you have to keep up with until a year after you graduate from Graduate School.  Here is my timeline:

  1. Graduate with Masters
  2. File KASA form away in a safe place
  3. Obtain a job
  4. Take the Jurisprudence Exam
  5. Complete paperwork for an Intern’s License in SLP and send it into the State of Texas.
  6. Check that your Supervisor has his/her CCCs from ASHA by calling the hotline.  (If they don’t have their CCCs or they let them lapse, that part of your CFY doesn’t count!)
  7. Get approval, linking your intern’s license with that of your Supervisor’s.
  8. Start job as a CFY.
  9. Have evaluations every 12 weeks with your Supervisor.
  10. At the end of your CFY, send in your KASA form (you know, that thing you filed away after graduate school) and the rest of the required paperwork to ASHA for your CCCs.
  11. Apply for your SLP license from the State of Texas.
  12. Congratulations!  You’re bound to renewals every year/two years and 10 CEUs a year!  Welcome to the world of SLP.

It’s really a lot of bureaucratic crap that you have to go through to actually become an SLP.  In Texas, you’re required to have a license to practice SLP, but they could care less about your CCCs.  That said, get your CCCs.  Some places won’t hire you without them.  Plus, if you ever have a student, you HAVE to have your CCCs for their off-site/CFY to count!

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Posted by survivingslp on October 4, 2010

My supervisor had to cancel all of our clients today because her son is sick.

This is clearly one of the downfalls of being in a private practice setting.  Because of insurance, you’re supposed to reschedule these clients.  Sometimes insurance only allows two sessions a week, and you have to use those two sessions or they’re gone forever.  This isn’t the way it goes in all cases.  This can also get extremely hectic.  I’m honestly not sure how she’s going to do it.  It makes me wonder if our Wednesday is going to be chocked full of those clients we were unable to see on Monday… or if she’ll have to come in in the afternoons on Tuesday/Thursday to fit in all of the kiddos she had to cancel on.

Really, this is the only bummer of private practice I’ve found.  Otherwise, I absolutely love it.  All of our sessions are one-one.  It’s great to really get to spend that much quality time with each kiddo.  I haven’t had my school placement yet (I’ll be starting this in January), but most of what I’ve heard about it, is that a great deal of school speech therapy is done via groups.  It’ll be interesting to contrast my school placement to my private practice placement.

I’m am 110% confident I picked the right field for me, however.  There is absolutely nothing else I can see myself doing.  Speech Therapy = ❤

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Artic Therapy!

Posted by survivingslp on September 28, 2010

So, I absolutely LOVE my off-site.  I honestly don’t want to leave it. But alas, I’ll have to eventually.  However, I think I’m going to let my supervisor know that if they’re looking for another SLP, to please consider me (once I graduate, of course).

My supervisor and I had an amazing day, yesterday.  We had so many funny moments and our clients just AMAZED us.

I love the way my supervisor structures her progression for Artic, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen at my University Clinic.

The progression is as follows:

  1. Initial Modeled Word
  2. Final Modeled Word
  3. Medial Modeled Word

It continues through a similar progression and moves through Un-modeled Words and continues through Phrases, Sentences, Structured Conversation and Unstructured Conversation.  Each set has an Unmodeled and a Modeled component to it.  Some times the clients pass through one stage in a day, or maybe two stages in a day, others take longer.  We change it based on how well they’re doing with production through data collection.

Each client also has a tally sheet in his/her homework binder for accountability to practice at home.

This systems really takes the guesswork out of “minimal, moderate, and max” cues.  It’s either modeled or unmodeled.  Some clients might need a tactile or visual cue to show placement and this is just noted off to the side, but we don’t track how often we use the cues.

Either way, I love the system and I think it makes a lot of sense.

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Game Review: Cariboo Island

Posted by survivingslp on September 16, 2010

Cariboo Island is a spectacular game for therapy.  I’ve been using it with children aged 3-12 and they all seem to love it. We’ve played it by the rules, with our own rules, or with no rules!

Cariboo Island is a “treasure hunt” game.  Basically, the premise is simple.  Draw a card, match what’s on the card to the cards on the island, open the door and see if you found a coin.  It’s not a simple matching game, though.  The children need to look at the “A” written on the card and match it to the “A” at the beginning of “Anchors” or “Aardvark.”  But, that’s not all.  I could do therapy with Cariboo Island!  You can target just about every phoneme from the words on the Island,  WH-questions can easily be targeted, working on “easy speech” for fluency, sequencing, following directions, and so much more.

I’ve only played the beginner version, but there is an advanced version as well, which targets a wider range of numbers and letters A-Z.  Cariboo Island for beginners simply targets Shapes (Circle, Square, Triangle), Letters (A,B,C), Numbers (1-4), and Colors (Red, Blue, Yellow, Green).

I’m definitely going to have to buy it for myself.  This is one of my favorite games so far.  It’s so cute, easy, and all of my kids seem to love it.

Kid Tested, Therapy Approved, Five Stars.

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The Offsite!

Posted by survivingslp on September 2, 2010

I began my offsite this week.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, it’s basically an intership/externship which is two days a week.  In my program, we have an offsite in the spring semester which is four days a week.  Otherwise, it’s exactly what it says:  it’s practicing SLP under supervision NOT in the University Clinic.

My offsite for this semster is at a private clinic in a town approximately 30 minutes away from my University.  The morning commute is a little hectic, but not nearly as bad as some of the other’s commute!  One of the speechies spent two hours in traffic for a 30 minute commute.

My supervisor’s name is Holly and she’s pretty awesome.  She specializes in pediatric feeding and swallowing, though she doesn’t have clients who need it at the moment.  On her caseload, she mostly has kiddos with articulation, language, and fluency.  She has quite a few who are apraxic, which is new to me.  Also, a number of children on her case load have social anxiety.

At this clinic, there are OTs as well.  It is SO awesome to see the OTs work.  We don’t do any co-treatment, but I love having the OTs there to ask questions of and to watch them work.  They don’t seem to mind it either.

I’ve gotten to know the front office staff, and they’re great too.  Jessica, especially.

They have a wealth of materials and items with which to do therapy.  They have very few diagnostic materials (that I’ve seen) and only have ONE HOUR to do diagnostics in!  Wow!  That’s so short!

Below are a few Tricks of the Trade:

  1. Two Phonebooks, taped together:  Used for stability for the child to sit at 90-90-90 when in a chair where his/her feet don’t touch the ground.
  2. Exercise ball:  For the clinician to sit on; allows for movement and keeps your core muscles engaged, also, much more comfy than a chair.
  3. Cariboo Island:  I’ve learned to LOVE this game.  You can work on ABC, 1-2-3, Colors, and Shapes, plus it’s a super fun game to play.  Reminds me of Pop Up Pirate.
  4. Sticker Box:  Holly lets each child pick a sticker if they want to (most put it on their Speech Binder).  She has a box of tons of different stickers which they get to open and browse through to pick their own sticker.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that Holly can do therapy with anything.  In grad school, we learned to carefully plan activities and have various themes for our session.  Watching Holly, just giving a child a lego piece or playing a game during asking questions or asking the child to use something in a sentence is just as effective as making a complex craft that you spent two hours working on.  The kids always seem entertained and none of them are too difficult to work with (Oh, BM and BH *sigh*  Those are my difficult ones.)

So far, I love my offsite.  Another speechie from my university is there with me with a different supervisor.  She has all of the Autism cases (*snaps fingers).

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ZOMG. Summer.

Posted by survivingslp on July 15, 2010

Summer is ridiculous.  There is really no other word for it.

It started out sort of mellow, with only one class two days a week and then three clients and one group on the other two days.  Then, we finished summer 1 and summer 2 came knocking at my door.  Talk about a whirlwind.

I’m down to two clients and one group with two classes four days a week, and diagnostics on Fridays.  Doesn’t seem that bad?  Add on the fact that these classes are four hours long.  Can you say overwhelmed?  Yes.

My clients this semester are -really- interesting.

I get to work with a client who has a 1/10,000 birth disorder.  Rett’s Disorder!  She’s so awesome.  Seriously, it’s one the rarest ones you’ll see, ever.  Right now, with her, since she’s completely non verbal, we’re working on eye gaze and learning vocabulary words.  Her mother really wants her to be literate (her mom is AWESOME) so we’re figuring “Why not?”  Let’s give it a shot.  Unfortunately, my supervisor is out for the rest of the semester, so I’m on my own.  That said, I have full access to her via e-mail.

My other interesting client uses an eye-gaze device to speak with.  He’s pretty awesome.  He had a traumatic brain injury over 20 years ago when he was a child.  He just recently got his device (about two years ago) and is still working out some of the kinks.  He is able to verbalize, but he presents with spastic quadriparesis as well as spastic dysarthria.

In other news, I got my practicum assignment for the Fall.  I’ll be in a private clinic which focuses on pediatrics.  I can’t wait!  To top that off, we still have classes and such, but I think it will be an amazing experience.

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Lessons Learned: Semester II

Posted by survivingslp on May 24, 2010

A few weeks ago we finished our second semester as Graduate Students.  I’ve learned quite a bit more and feel much more confident in various areas, especially speaking with parents and managing client’s behavior.

  1. Don’t skip class on days tests are handed back.  (This lead to me making a C.)
  2. Don’t be afraid to go to your supervisor with questions, thoughts, ideas and concerns.
  3. Clients will drop out no matter what you try to do to accomodate them.
  4. Stay organized throughout the ENTIRE semester.
  5. Keep up with your planner and write out notes to make sure that everything gets done during the week.
  6. Be kind to your therapy closets, they get messy quickly.
  7. Be Flexible.  I can’t say this enough.  Sometimes what you plan you will not do.
  8. Don’t eat when you’re stressed.  Seriously.  Bad juju.
  9. Take comprehensive notes.  You’ll need them later.

It was, over all, a great semester.  I learned a lot, got to work with a great deal of interesting cases and summer session is slowly closing in.

For the summer, I’ll have an “r” client as well as a young man who uses an AAC device.  I’m excited about it, for sure.

To do:

  • Offsite Placements for the fall
  • Plans for new clients
  • Meeting with my new Supervisor
  • Check the mail for textbooks

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Summer Session

Posted by survivingslp on March 31, 2010

Summer is going to be crazy.

We do a lot of groups at my university as well as a handful of clients who continue to receive individual services.  All of this occurs prior to 12:00 pm.  Starting at about 1:00 PM, we attend class until about 5:00.  Unfortunately, one of the classes we’re taking this summer is audiological assessment.  I had a horrible professor in undergrad for audiology and barely managed to pass the class… not for lack of trying, mind you.

My professor for School-Age language is an SLP in the schools.  She’s such an amazing woman.  I really like the way she structures her therapy.  She was talking about how, instead of pulling all of the kids in Mrs. Johnson’s kindergarten class, she pulls children based on a curriculum.  So, all first grade language, second grade artic, third grade social skills, etc.  I found that very interesting and extremely practical.  That’s something to remember when and if I take a job in the schools.

I really need to make time to write down all of my therapy hours that I’ve gotten thus far this semester.  I’ve been a horrible grad student in that regard.  Also, I need to call my undergrad and have them fax over or mail a record of my observation ours sometime before I graduate.

For anyone taking who is going to take Comps or Praxis II, I highly recommended getting “An Advanced Review on Speech Language Pathology: Preparation for Praxis and Comprehensive Examination” by Rosemary-McKibbin and M.N. Hegde.  I’ve been using it a bit to study for my tests and it’s such a wealth of information.  I have a feeling it’s going to be invaluable when I really do start studying for Comps and Praxis.

My Adult Neurogenics professor is going to have a conniption fit.  They canceled classes after noon on Friday because it’s Good Friday.  This will be the fourth class we won’t have attended (3 in a row).

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Posted by survivingslp on March 30, 2010

The TSHA convention was this past weekend.  It was amazing.  I’m so glad that I went and I can’t wait to continue going to conventions later in life.  (Plus, all the free pens were awesome.)

A few things I learned:

  1. Research Parking beforehand.  I paid $10 a day in the parking garage.
  2. Pack a lunch, I waited in line for 20 minutes at Potbelly for a sammich.
  3. Figure out where you want to go beforehand.
  4. Look over the layout of the convention center so you’re not wandering aimlessly figuring out where to check in.
  5. Take time to thoroughly explore the exhibit hall, there’s some really cool stuff in there!
  6. Bring a jacket!

I went to two sessions.  Parts 2 and 3 of Michelle Garcia-Winner’s session on Social Thinking and then I went to ARD 101 since I’m thinking of going into the school. (Texas has ARD meetings [Admission, Review, Dismissal] whereas most other schools have IEP meetings.)  ARD 101 was very amusing, but I didn’t learn really anything more than I already learned.

I learned quite a bit in the Garcia-Winner session.  It really amused me that when you’re talking to someone, or with a group that each person really steers the conversation towards them and their thoughts.  I really liked her presentation about her book SuperFlex and How to be a Social Dectective (I think).  She gave me some great ideas for teaching kids expected/unexpected instead of appropriate/inappropriate because using appropriate/inappropriate really implies judgement.

TSHA was such a great experience.  Next year I’ll definitely take advantage of the Job Placement services that TSHA provides to interview with various companies/districts.

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