All SLP graduate students long for graduation day. Graduation is the time when you are finally on your own, and let’s be honest… it’s time for a paycheck. Graduating with your master’s in speech-language pathology is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world, but it can also feel daunting. You no longer have your supervisors guiding every therapy session, and it’s common to feel unprepared; I know I did.
I am only halfway into my Clinical Fellowship (CF) year, so I still have many days when I feel a little lost. Starting your CF year is scary. You’re on your own. You don’t have anyone telling you what therapy techniques to try, and you no longer have the wonderful resources you once had in graduate school. It’s kind of like starting over, but in a good way.
Here are a few tips for all of you soon-to-be graduates:
- Do not be afraid to ask your supervisor for help or support. I repeat… Do NOT be afraid to ask your supervisor for help or support. That is what they are there for! They want to help you. They have been doing this for a long time, and they can be a wonderful support system for you. Our speech coordinator told us at the beginning of the year, “I’m not worried about the speech therapists that do ask questions; I’m worried about the ones that don’t”.
- Ask other SLPs where they find their resources. Some of my best resources have come from my fellow SLPs. Therapists that have been in the field for a while accumulate wonderful resources and websites that they are more than willing to share with others, especially clinical fellows.
- Get to know the staff! The staff at my school has been nothing less than wonderful. They have been so helpful and supportive. Take the time to introduce yourself and establish relationships with your school staff.
- Collaborate with teachers. Teachers WANT to talk to you (during their planning). Teachers have been receptive and thankful for me reaching out to them and discussing students’ needs. It also helps the students exponentially in the classroom because you can tie therapy into what they are currently learning.
- Last but not least, do not feel inadequate for feeling overwhelmed. It’s your first job! We had a CF dinner not too long ago, and we all had the opportunity to voice our struggles and our victories. Struggles are not uncommon, nor will they ever go away. Embrace the hardships, and know they will ultimately make you into a better speech therapist.
Remember that you are the expert and the professional. You worked extremely hard for this, and you are more than prepared for your CF year!
Author: Leslie Elder, M.Ed., CF-SLP