To all the graduates who have finally finished school and on the cusp of entering their clinical fellowship, well done! You have accomplished a huge goal and now you’re ready to start life as an SLP. Thinking back to this time in my life, I decided to reach out and give you some SLP advice to remember in your coming years.
1. Keep Learning
There will always be something to learn. No matter how long you are in this job, there’s always going to be a new thing that comes up, a new situation you aren’t sure how to address, a new question that you’re going to have, etc.
Ask questions! Rely on your fellow SLPs, your clinical advisor, SLP Facebook groups and/or fellow grads. Never feel like a question is dumb or shouldn’t be asked. The SLP community is here to help!
2. Make Mistakes
One thing you need to keep reminding yourself of is that you’re human, you went into this career to help people and you are trying your best. However, you are bound to make mistakes. It will continue to happen throughout your career. You will never be a perfect SLP and that is okay. You know those ‘perfect SLPs’ out there…they’re faking it 😊
It’s better to make mistakes and correct them rather than trying to make everything perfect and stress out. You need to remember that you are doing the best for your students and giving it your all. Sometimes it’s hard for parents and fellow staff to see that.
Everything is not always going to go according to plan. You can have a great therapy session ready to go and then the printer breaks, a kid is taking a test, a parent interrupts your session, etc. Sometimes it’s out of your control, but you know what? Some of my best therapy sessions came from mess ups. Keep an open mind and take it as an opportunity to learn.
3. You are the professional!
You are the professional, you have a degree, the training and the knowledge. Some parents and coworkers may see you as young and inexperienced. It can be intimidating going into a meeting where so many people have more experience in THEIR careers than you do. However, they don’t have ANY experience in YOUR career. You are the expert…remember that!
4. Don’t Be Afraid of Change
If you go through your CFY and aren’t sure if you really like it, make a change! The nice thing about our profession is that we have a huge variety of job options. If you didn’t like working with kids in schools, try clinics. If you didn’t like working in a hospital with stroke patients, try working in a clinic with language kids.
The point is, don’t feel like you must stay in one area just because you started there! I hear so many SLPs say that they wished they would have listened to their gut earlier. Do what makes you happy!
5. Never Forget Your Why!
This is the most important advice! Please, do not forget why you went into this profession. We all have stressful days, weeks, months and sometimes years. When you are having stressful moments, ask yourself these questions:
Why did you want to go into this profession?
Who do you want to help?
What did you imagine it would be like? (try to make it this way)
Try to remember back to when you made your decision to become an SLP. Write down your answers and post them in a spot you will see them!
There are so many times that I went back and wrote down my why. Knowing my purpose motivates me and makes me forget about the little stresses.
Finally, I wanted to say congratulations, welcome to the beginning and never forget that you are surrounded by a community of SLPs who want to help you and motivate you!
If you need some more tips and freebies to start you off in your new profession, here are some helpful blog posts.