The end of one chapter, the beginning of the next

I have been very fortunate in my life to have had some amazing work adventures!

For the last twelve years, I have worked at the University of Rhode Island’s Speech and Hearing Clinic as a clinical supervisor. A university clinic is similar to an educational incubator in which the latest research, focused study on the science of the profession combines with practical hands-on experiences and the art of working with people with communication difficulties. The graduate students are nurtured, guided and inspired to become a professional speech and language pathologists.

This has been a passion of mine, assisting the developing speech pathologist in learning their craft. In doing so I feel that I have refined my own treatment skills.

I have had the pleasure of working with many families some from the time that their children were toddlers until they were graduating from high school ( and a few college students). The relationships that were developed were around mutual trust. There is a real difference in sitting with a family observing their child and being able to point out why a technique was working and how the could do the same at home in real time. Watching from the one-way mirror allowed me the opportunity not just to ‘see’ the treatment that was going on with the child and the student clinician but to all ‘see’ the family.  I will miss this dearly.

I am not sure of how they advertise for a clinical supervisor but the description must be complicated. My full-time job is working as a speech and language pathologist in a public school. Working with adult students is very different than working with pediatrics. Adult students ARE adults and need to be respected as such. They don’t need to be micromanaged but need to be guided to utilize the knowledge that they have gained in the classroom into the clinical room. The graduate students are in the midst of studying the theories and the science of speech and language pathology and often seem to be in a great deal of stress as they juggle papers, exams, and clinical practice. A clinical supervisor needs to be open and available to discuss cases with the graduate student offering support, providing meaningful feedback and sharing resources and expertise. This, however, needs to be in a manner that allows the student some autonomy and ability to make mistakes. I always tell my student I will never let them make an error that will hurt a child but it is through some of their self-discovery rather than a prescriptive following my way exactly that they really learn.  A big take away for me is that just as we need to differentiate with our clients so we need to differentiate with our adult learners.  Some need to be able to read information and comment on after digesting the information ( the reason I started this blog). Others may need to ‘talk’ it out or to ‘see’ it being done in order to understand it.  As graduation approaches the graduate may express relief that they are done with schooling and it is my job to counsel them that one is never done learning and that to be a speech and language pathologist one must always be researching, reading and exploring research-based techniques and that the American Speech and Language Association website is a good resource for this life long learning. I will miss the students.

I have decided to open myself up for a new adventure. Just as that first dive off the pier into the lake can make one feel reluctant so too my decision to leave what had become part of my identity. I, however, have made that plunge and I am ready for the next experience.

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2 comments on “The end of one chapter, the beginning of the next
  1. What an amazing story! It is really inspiring your passion for guiding and helping children until young adults that have communication difficulties to express themselves. It is amazing that you got to live that experience.
    For sure, there are times in life that last a certain amount of time and we have to appreciate it to the fullest.

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