All I can say right now is, “Wow!” I cannot believe my graduate career has come to an end. I’m proud to have made it this far and excited to embark on a new adventure as I start my first job as a speech-language pathologist at the Shandy Clinic in Colorado!
Reflecting back now on the educational and clinical experiences I’ve had, I realize there are a few things that would have been beneficial for me to know from the beginning. Most of it’s centered around knowing where to look for resources, which can make life as undergrad and grad student— and even as a professional—a lot easier!
Stop Reinventing the Wheel
Selecting appropriate materials to motivate different clients is essential to having effective therapy sessions. As an innovative person, I’d try to create my own materials—constantly stressing myself out over whether or not they’d be effective. This is when I learned the true meaning of, “don’t reinvent the wheel.”
There are so many resources and websites out there, like Teachers Pay Teachers and ReadWorks, with thousands of materials for clinicians to utilize. These websites helped release the burden of managing my clients and my school work.
Study and Practice Resources
Knowing where to find appropriate resources makes a huge difference, not only when searching for materials for clients, but also for academic work!
ASHA’s Practice Portal
ASHA’s Practice Portal provides resources on clinical and professional topics that helps facilitate clinical decision making for audiologists and SLPs. There are also handouts that you can provide to clients to help them better understand their specific communication disorder, and different tools and templates you can use for evaluations. Each topic also links to my next favorite resource, ASHA’s Evidence Maps!
ASHA’s Evidence Maps
My master’s program really stressed the importance of evidence-based practice (as they should have!). This was intimidating for me as a first-year grad student. The only place I knew to look were databases available through the campus’ website. While these were helpful, there was one resource that I found to be a life saver—ASHA’s Evidence Maps!
ASHA’s Evidence Maps provides high-level evidence-based studies and articles for a myriad of communication disorders. This made researching for coursework a breeze, especially because I knew this was highly vetted information. Starting out as a new professional, I will not forget the importance of using evidence to support my treatment methods!
Both ASHA’s Practice Portal and Evidence Maps were really helpful resources during all of my research projects and papers.
Looking for a clinical fellowship, externship, or job can feel overwhelming. When I first started looking for a job, I couldn’t find any opportunities for the settings I was interested in. I felt discouraged until I found the ASHA Career Portal—a site that allows you to search for speech-language pathology and audiology jobs all across the United States! It’s specifically to those of us in the CSD fields—offering more results than any other generic job sites.
This site allowed me to search jobs in various states and with multiple settings to choose from. I applied for a few locations and felt like my options were unlimited! I heard back from various facilities almost immediately.
After interviewing for my current job at the Shandy Clinic, I knew it was the perfect fit for me. They have various locations in Colorado and I was placed in their specialized outpatient facility, providing services to children who have experienced trauma or have a history of mental illness. I feel right at home and am so fortunate to have hit the jackpot on my very first job as an SLP. I have the ASHA Career Portal to thank for that!
So I highly recommend skipping those generic sites (at least at first) and going directly to the ASHA Career Portal if you’re graduating soon and looking for your first job!
Ask Your Peeps
Entering grad school and having to juggle both an academic and client workload can be intimidating and nerve-wrecking. I was fortunate enough to attend the same university for undergrad and grad school, giving me the opportunity to ask my friends in the classes ahead of me how they found certain information. So, don’t forget that your peers and faculty can be great resources too—whether it’s for studying for your academic courses, tips on getting through application processes, or venturing out into the real world.
Knowing how and where to find resources can take so much stress away. There are so many resources out there. Never be afraid to explore!