SLP Toolkit Podcast, Episode 40, Transcript
Well, hey Lisa!
Fancy seeing you!
I know, it's very weird because we're in different locations today, but due to the magic of technology, no one would have ever known unless I said that.
I know, it's like, it's just like we're hanging out together.
I know. So what actually, you have kind of an exciting day coming up this afternoon.
I do, I am getting my first vaccine at 1:30 PM!
Woohoo mine’s tomorrow
I know! Did anybody--I don't know if anybody who saw this yesterday, but Amy Schumer, who I think is the funniest thing on this planet--because I am so beyond excited right now. It's ridiculous to be this excited to go get a shot, but I am. And so I loved it because Amy Schumer went yesterday, wore a sequin ballgown, like not ballgown, but like a sequin dress and same thing when in like she was at a party, like so pumped to get it, but she had cut out a part on her arm where shot was going to be given. And then she was like telling jokes and even like said something that I can't repeat on this podcast because, you know, we do have some rules about what should or should not be said, but she was like making jokes in any way. So cool. So I did tell my husband, I'm like, “Should I wear a sequined dress? Or like at least take like streamers and like a popper, some balloons?”.
Absolutely! I mean, it is so exciting. And I, you know, for a while they made us feel here in Arizona that it was--you, you know, everybody will get it kind of eventually, nobody really knows when. And--
We thought we were June!
Even then, yeah, maybe June, and even like-- My parents are in that like upper group of over 75. So it took them even, I think until--within the past month. So it was just kind of moving slowly and then all of a sudden it's like, you wake up one morning and they're like, everyone 16 and up. We're like, “woo-hoo, let's do it!”.
And here's the deal. Arizona's not always known for, you know, making the greatest decisions, I don't think, about things. And so I was shocked, we're really kicking butt!
Well I love even the idea of how they opened up--where people could get their shot, if you weren't in one of the eligible categories at first, by volunteering. Like how genius is that? Do an eight hour shift to give vaccinations and at the end of your shift, you can get a vaccination. So I just think that they were kind of thinking outside of the box for once. So super awesome.
Well, and we debated if we were going to cheat the system, because, what, about a month and a half ago, they opened It up to anybody who had a health license from the Department of Health, and we do technically because we've kept out licensure.
And we were like, so jealous looking at everybody getting their shot.
I know! So everybody working in the schools got to go get it, and we're like, “Well, we've got the license. Should we just pretend?” And then I'm like, “Ew, no, we're going to wait our turn and be respectful to people who really need it sooner than to us!” and anyway! But it worked out, I will have a vaccine, I'll be done by April.
Okay! So enough about that!
Enough about pandemics and vaccinations.
We- We are definitely excited about the vaccine, but that's not what this is about. Do you want to introduce who is in the confessional with us tonight?
You know, this is a really fun one tonight, we're super excited to introduce Celina Wright to you guys. Um, Celina is a--an SLPA working in Ontario, California, and we were lucky enough to get connected with her because she moderated, organized, and hosted this amazing SLPA forum/town hall. So, um, so graciously invited us to be the keynotes for the opening session for this whole day dedicated to SLPAs, um, as part of CASHA the California Speech and Hearing Association and so it was just so cool. I mean, first of all, Celina welcome.
Hello, thank you for having me. I'm equally as excited today,
But just--that event in itself, I think the takeaway that I came away from beyond the fact that you were a total badass and could probably rule the world, and we might want to talk about you running for president or something in a future conversation. But that, um, that the advocacy in the state of California is a very different vibe than we have here in Arizona. And hopefully the tone of how it's going to be going, moving forward with every--all of the changes with, um, going on with, uh, ASHA certifying finally SLPAs on a formal level. And so, super excited to kind of dive into how you even got into that!.
Speaker 4 (05:01):
Yeah. Well, thank you so much, and that just makes my heart so happy to hear you say the things about advocacy and specifically about California. I think CASHA has always really valued us as SLPAs, and we've always been a front runner in terms of SLPA advocacy and representation so much so that, um, before I served on the CASHA board, there was another SLP representative Megan Chase who was also--we were fortunate to have her as part of the panel--and she was the first SLPA director on CASHA’s board. So she had a voting position, which was really amazing--first, um, SLP licensure to be on a state board like that. Now, unfortunately there had to be some rollback because of certain ASHA policies, but we will get back there. We will! Especially now that we're, you know, the movement forward with the SLPA licensure is moving as it is with ASHA. Um, so yeah, back to like advocacy, I, I just think that it's, um, being involved is something, since I can't remember when that started for me, but early on being involved is just something that I've always been passionate about. We even have, uh, we have many signs in my house. I mentioned one in the town hall and we have another sign and it's kinda like that family rules, you know, a lot of people have them, you know, “Be Grateful” and all of these other things, and one of them on there is “Be Involved” and it's a family mantra of ours. We just feel so strongly about that. So I, yeah, I really value advocacy.
Well and part of, I think, the issue is thinking about the history of SLPAs--which SLPAs have been around in some degree or another for, I mean, at least 20 years--
Yeah, at least.
--ASHA had some stake in it, as far as they were going to (even back then) certify SLPAs and then sort of pulled back and did recommendations, um, instead versus going through that certification process. So what, how I think that ended up sort of trickling down to the states is ASHA will always defer to states and whatever is in statute for specific states. So we have some states in the US who certify and license their SLPAs, and then we have other states that don't, and then we have some states that actively seek, you know, involving SLPAs in the speech and hearing organization for the state, and we have some that don't and we have like, even, I think of California and Texas, we've gotten to travel to both of those state conventions. And I think we were kind of floored when we went to even Texas, where there were so many students there and SLPAs and not just even grad students, the bachelor level students too. And so it was a huge “A-ha” for us because, um, in Arizona, there's definitely a focus in our state organization to include SLPAs. I'm actually on an SLPA committee that is made up of SLPs and SLPAs and informing the courses for the convention. There's a track that is meant to be geared towards SLPAs, but our attendance and participation in general as a state is very low. I mean, what would you say Sarah, maybe 300 people show up to our convention versus 3000 in California or 5,000 in Texas? So, so many kind of moving pieces where if that's hard enough, you know, to see how you fit in that then to take that next level to advocacy is even...
Sure. And I say this when I speak on advocacy a lot, um, I actually am a co-host for, uh, an organization SLPA resources and we have a website and we're on a bit of a hiatus now with the podcast. But I did one specifically on SLPAs and advocacy. And whenever I talk about advocacy, I like to use the statement that sometimes people think advocacy is this big grand, you know, set of events. And they think of--honestly, more in the political sphere, it's marching Capitol Hill. It's going to your state Capitol, it's going to Washington D.C. And yes, advocacy can definitely look like that, but there is advocacy in our day-to-day walks too as professionals. And even in our personal lives, we advocate for ourselves--as you mentioned at the beginning in your chat with Sarah, um, we have had to be advocates for our health care and, uh, you know, our healthcare systems and things like that recently. So there's advocacy and a lot of different realms of life. So I think that that can be something that intimidates people sometimes is, “Oh man, like I'm going to have to meet with a Congressman or a state official or something like that!”. And it doesn't quite have to be that--it can, if you, it certainly can, if you want it to be, I've been part of CASHA legislative days where we've gone up to Sacramento and we've started conversations and relationships with our state lobbyists and, uh, you know, local and state elected officials. And that's been huge and amazing. And we always find that common ground to speech language and hearing, you know, they--the representative who we're talking to, or the staffer who we're speaking with has a child, you know, with special needs or a language delay, or, uh, had a grandmother who experienced, you know, a stroke or something like that. So there's always that connection, which is really what advocacy is about: it's connection and it's networking, at the end of the day. Um, and I think too, there can be some misinformation of the process in general. You know, when you're talking about networks of people, there's so much organization that has to go into--I mean, just think of like yourself, if you've ever planned a birthday party or something like that, for anyone, any guest count of more than 10 people, there's a lot that goes into it! Now magnify that on a stage of like hundreds, even thousands of people and funding streams and all of that stuff. Um, for me, my husband's been involved in politics for quite some time and so I've kind of had the chance to peel back that curtain and see how many structures and networks and siloed or, you know, entities go into things. So sometimes when advocacy can feel really slow, that can be frustrating too, especially in the day and age of social media and tech, where we're, we're working at faster than microwave speed here, but it doesn't make it any less important to be an advocate, not only in your work setting, um, and even with your own clients, I think it really’s--advocacy always starts at home. And that's how you can start. You can start by practicing advocacy with the students and the clients that you're working with and let your passion grow there. And then it will extend to your workplace. And then beyond that your state associations, or, you know, local, uh, organizations that you find yourself in.
I used to always say “Sarah is making friends again today at work!” because I do, like, what's so cool about what you said, is a lot of times in our profession, I think particularly, it is easier to advocate for somebody else versus yourself. And so Sarah, you’ve had plenty of experience. Again, making friends is what I used to always say, but I always loved your passion was so super contagious. And it was always about the kids.
Yes. Well, and I love what you just talked about too with, um, it starts at home when we had it. We had Marie Ireland, um, on the podcast and I'm not going to lie. W--we not, not that we thought we were going to go toe-head-to-toe-- toe-to-toe or head-to-head? What did I do with--
Head-to-toe! Head, shoulders, knees, and toes!
I don’t know! Regardless! We thought we might go head-to-head with her because Lisa and I had published a blog post all about the things we wanted ASHA to know from a survey we had taken from SLPs in the school setting. And so we had all of this information, plus we're in the trenches, we know how much SLPs struggle. So now we've got Maria Ireland coming on, who not only works for her department of education in Virginia, but she's also been very involved in ASHA’s board. And so we're just like ready to like go to battle, to talk about like the--the struggles and the SLPs and this like, you know, platform we need. And, and why is ASHA not doing anything for us and dah, dah, dah, and the conversation shifted really quickly where I'm reflecting back on it and I don't think we ever had like this heated debate about how, what ASHA is not doing enough of, or, you know, this idea of advocacy and the fact that, you know, like I can't get into the state lawmakers’, you know, offices and dah, dah, dah. We never even went there. It went back to the beginning of, well, what are you doing in your room with your students? You know, with, even with just your principal or maybe your administrator, or, you know, why we feel like we've got to go straight to ASHA and ASHA needs to go straight to lawmakers. Um, it is just kind of this, this idea that I think is what paralyzes everybody, when it comes to being an advocate and fighting for change.
It really does just start with what you can do where you're at. Um, and so, yeah, I did, I was always fighting for my students. And so, you know, I didn't get involved at the state level. Um, but I think I was able to make some real change for kids because of that advocacy for them on their behalf, if they didn't have other members who were being that advocate for them.
Yeah. That's huge. Yeah. And I think you hit on an important point too, in that it's starting at the ground level and relationship building is super duper important even for yourself because that's where education for yourself happens. Um, sometimes I'll enter into conversations with other professionals and realize that there's not a solid understanding of the certain entities that they need to go to an advocate within. So I'll hear concerns and that CASHA has to do something about it, or ASHA has to do something about it when unfortunately there's miseducation there that neither one of those entities has any regulatory purview over any of that stuff. You're talking about something that has to go to your state's labor board. Um, but we find those things out through networking and through relationships and conversation and talking to people because if you come at it right away with this, you know… and don't get me wrong, I mean, there's some times I personally am a special needs parent. So I understand the need sometimes to wear that, you know, pit bull sort of persona. Um, but uh, you rarely need to pull it out if you don't lose focus on what the important thing is. And with advocacy, with professional advocacy, it's either your client or it's you as a professional. So it's you and you are so important and you're worth it. And you're worth entering into conversations and educating yourself on advocacy so that you can be happy at your job in your profession because you're going to deliver services that are that much.
Yeah, and I, I think it's so interesting that idea, again, that advocacy starts in the beginning. And even beyond that, I can remember back to a conversation we had with your friend, Chris Winger, when we had him in the confessional and the podcast where we talked about too, likability that you get a lot in--and likability, not meaning that you have to be popular or have to be like a certain person--but I can even remember building-- to me it's more about building relationships is really what it is is that we're having these conversations. So then when I need something, I've maybe put some things in to be able to ask for some things out. And I used to see that even at the school level where I remember really specifically talking to my principal about reducing a duty that I had. I had a duty three times a week on the bike rack and it was always like right before school and we were having meetings. And so I had said “Yes, you know, for the first quarter when I don't have a lot of meetings, cool, totally willing to do that, but then can we, you know” then I move on to IEP duty and I made a joke, you know “IEP and met duty--can we get it reduced?”. And my principal totally, because we've had conversations, listened to me, versus there was a resource teacher who had the same duty and maybe not as many IEP meetings, but still just was not super likable and would come in like kind of a wrecking ball about everything. And the principal was like “Ph, well, you’ll work it out, you'll figure it out”. And so I think that people forget about that piece too, that, you know, even with students, um, or people I've mentored or supervised, I used to talk about, you know, that idea of, can you imagine just going into, somebody's--like a teacher's room, cause this is what we do as even professionals. Like “You need to be doing X, Y, and Z” with this student and the teacher looks at you like “Uh, okay, nice to you, what’s your name again?” versus flip it -- if somebody walked into your speech room or in your clinic or wherever had zero relationship and started telling you what you needed to do, how well would that be received? And we always forget about that. You know, we always go straight to that, but I need this because you've got all that background in your head and you know, how you feel, but that's really difficult to relay if you're not having those conversations.
Absolutely. And everything that you just said right now, it's been discussed in other forums I've been in that speech professionals really are the best advocates. We have the potential to be the best advocates because we're trained in communication and all of that comes with that. Not only the message and how we put it together, but how we convey it, the indirect language we use, the, you know, all those, those parts of the communication that aren't spoken. We're trained in that. So how amazing is it for us to be advocates, uh, for not only ourselves, but our clients?
Well, thinking--I feel like we went right into advocacy--
I was about to say, can we hang that up a minute? Cause I was about to say, I think we do an entire episode on that. But, before that, I wanted to talk more about the role of an SLPA--your background a little bit. We never even really talked about how long you've been doing this, the settings you've worked in.
Yeah. So, um, my journey to SLPA is unique as everyone else's journey to their career, their careers are. So I mentioned before that I'm a special needs parent. Um, our eldest son, Jacob has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder among other things. So when I, um, when we started entering the world of special needs, I had already been exploring a career as like a school psychologist. And, um, and so it was already going down that road. And then when he started receiving early intervention services, um, you know, [I was] right there, along with him every step of the way, and I can remember his early intervention specialist was in our living room one day and we were, this is already after several conversations we had had. And she said “You know, I think you would be really great at doing what I do and working with special needs children”. And I thought “Oh, you know…” the thoughts stuck with me and one thing led to another and so I started in that career while going to school and loved it. Uh, and I always felt myself leaning toward the speech side of things. So in that field, working with the zero to three population and going in homes we'd work on all areas of development, but I always found myself finding the most joy and creativity when speech activities would come up. So thankfully my paths crossed with an SLP who also worked at that company. And she mentioned--she was the first one to ever mentioned SLPA to me. She said “You know, there's, there's this program”--um, I'm located in Southern California--”she's like, there's this program in Pasadena. And it's really great. I know the woman who runs it and I, I think you’d be great at it”. So then I det--I thought I was taking a bit of a detour still thinking, okay, I'll, you know, be a, a school psychologist someday. Um, so I started my coursework at Pasadena City College and simultaneously I was interviewing some school psychologists and getting more of a feel of what that career looked like and realized that, that wasn't for me through those relationships, back to relationships and networking. And thankfully I did that because then I realized that speech really is more the path for me. And the program that I attended was incredible, I can't say enough about Pasadena's program. And I had the opportunity to do a practicum in both a school setting and a medical setting at a rehab facility and loved both. Um, and then it was through that program that I was referred to the clinic that I still currently work at. So I was in my exit, like sort of interview for school and Rosemary, our director said “You know, there's this clinic out by you and I believe that they're hiring”, she found the flyer. Again, one thing led to another, nothing's ever by mistake, and I found my way here to Wings, Speech, and Language, and Ontario, and have really enjoyed working here because I've really got to grow with the company over, and I can talk about more of that later of like even leadership roles that are offered to SLPAs here at our clinic. Um, so then fast forward a couple years, I was hungry. Um, I always say this, I always want to be a student of something my whole lifelong, I want to be 95, however old, you know, I am blessed to be on this earth and I want to still be learning something, still be taking class. I am picture, I picture myself with that dope backpack on like a college campus, with my walker. That's going to be me when they're like, okay. So she graduated with her bachelor's in anthropology or something.
Are you also, like, in a sorority when you're in college?
Exactly, exactly the possibilities are endless here! So, um, I was hungry. The more that I found out about speech, the more that I just wanted to learn. So a couple of years into working at the clinic, I went back to school and finished my bachelor's at Utah State, um, in Comm D. And, uh, yeah. And so this has really taken me in many cool places. I've been very involved with our state association, which is how, you know, the two of you and I met. Um, that's been really cool. Uh, you mentioned Chris Winger earlier, he's my clinical supervisor and that, by no mistake, that meetup happened and I think that we both compliment each other so very well, um, and really motivate each other to always have that mindset of helping people and being positive for other people cause there's plenty of there's enough negativity to go around, I think, and not to say that, like I don't experience that. Absolutely. I have my days where a number of things gets under my skin, but I try to always go back to that seed of gratitude and remember why we're here. So that's, yeah, that's a bit of in July, I'll be celebrating 12 years as an SLPA, which has been so super cool. Um, I don't know, maybe grad school is in the cards for me at some point. Um, but you know, an SLPA is an amazing career. And I think that that's something that's been communicated over the last several years within the field, at least in California, is that you can make a career out of being an SLPA and that's amazing and more people should, more people should do that.
I’m hoping that with this change, with the certification, that that is going to be--become more universally understood because I think that's what it is. Again, going back to, depending on where you live and even, I mean, there are states that aren't using SLPAs period, so I have a feeling that will change, but also there are SLPs I think that think that an SLPA is like a stepping stone--which it can be for some career paths, but not for all career paths that, you know, it's not necessarily just what you're doing while you're waiting to get into grad school and so that’s a big misconception I think is going on I think out there.
Yeah, exactly, CASHA did a Wonderful job at this convention last year, or just that wrapped up actually a couple of weeks ago. Um, and the SLPA, the current SLPA Meesha, uh, the rep to the board, and myself had the amazing opportunity to work very closely with the conference coordinator. And when we teamed up with him, it was apparent from the get-go it's like, okay, how can we brand SLPA Day? And because we have so much content and so much talent that is bubbling out of this licensure, how are we going to highlight this? And so then it turned into multiple breakout sessions and then the SLP Town Hall--that was content driven. It wasn't, you know, a social event, which would have been fine too, but it was a content driven event. We were so blessed to have both of you there to speak on professional mindset and, and all that you had offered the audience. Um, and so that was really great. And we found, you know, if you attended that day, you saw people who were self publishing, um, who were creating materials, very entrepreneurial spirits in the SLPA licensure, which is so, so freaking cool I think.
Because you know, like, I think you guys said, I think SLPAs, have been around now about 20 years…
At least! I mean, I've been, so I've been licensed 12 years--I would say longer than that, I would say possibly like between the band of 25 to 30, really. Um, and I, I mentioned PCC before and there is, I'm forgetting her name at the moment, but she was really a pioneer in starting that program. And then in California, we had Lisa O'Connor, uh, very well-known SLP in the state. And unfortunately we don't have her with us anymore, but she was a very strong advocate for us and this force. And I, I think I was put in PCCs program for a reason, too, because to be exposed to Rosemary and under her tutelage and then to also have Lisa O'Connor as a mentor was incredible because early on, I mean, and they were speaking stuff that like 12, 15 years ago was like, what, like for SLPAs to be as strong as they are. Um, and I think that really helps set my mindset. So whenever I enter into spaces, I, I just think, well, you belong here and we have something really valuable. Um, and we can get into conversations in different times about scope and yeah, that's really important. And, and I never want to step outside of that. So that's always at the forefront, but there's also all this other stuff that I can offer the team.
Yes. And that's when I remember, when I did my undergrad and graduated with a bachelor's in speech and hearing science, even then, although SLPAs hadn't been around, obviously cause I that wasn't 20 years ago, I graduated my undergrad, I don’t think. Um, I, that concept of an SLPA was very new to me. I actually had no idea what you could do with a Bachelor's in Speech and Hearing Science and I did not have any plans to go straight to grad school and so I panicked in any way, long story short, I realized that the district I lived nearby was hiring SLPAs and so I had the privilege of being able to do that. And, you know, this is again, before certification, I don't think the role was as clearly defined. We had a scope and sequence, you know, do we knew what we could and couldn't do. Um, but I still, I felt like a glorified assistant, probably? Not assistant like, um, like a para-professional. Um, I don't think anybody quite knew what to do with me, um, or what I was even supposed to do! I remember feeling so insecure, um, in my knowledge, and I remember depending a lot on the SLP to tell me what to do, like, “Okay, but where's that lesson planner? What activities, or what am I supposed to do next?:. You know? I just, oh gosh, I look back and I think, oh, what a missed opportunity in so many ways. That being said it was life-changing in the fact that I got to work with brilliant SLPs and have this really amazing experience and learn so much through being an SLPA that I know for a fact, my experience in grad school was very, very different than everybody who had not experienced that. The experience of working in the field is very different than even what an internship can give you.
Well to connect in what you’re learning to real individuals, because they definitely tried to do that through your internships, but I'm one that went straight through. And I know, I didn't know anything, like, even in my internships, I can remember going back versus having that real life, you know, clinical knowledge. And these kids have like, you know, in Arizona at ASU, they have a program where you can be an SLPA as you're going through grad school. And those were the best clinicians when they got out of school too, because they were already practiced clinicians.
Yes. I knew what I didn't know. So I could go to school that day and start to apply--like seek that information because I already knew what I was, where my weaknesses were.
I will say I have the, also the privilege of after becoming an SLPA, having SLP--or, actually, becoming an SLP, having SLPAs, and one of them actually works for us now. Um, and let me tell you, we were very different and I don't know if it's because of her training to be an SLPA was--I wasn't trained to be an SLPA, right, I just had a bachelor's degree in speech and hearing science and that qualified me to be one. So I think her, she had more specific training or she was just like way more confident and competent than myself, but I didn't tell her anything. She just--I think she was telling me what to do, to be quite honest with you. Um, but she just was so qualified and amazing, and it was such a great experience! Um, and so I think anyone who has questions about the roles just hasn't had the experience--
Or exposure to how we are trained, absolutely! One of my roles here at the clinic is as the SLPA training coordinator. So I help to onboard the new SLPAs into the clinic and then I also have a hand in ongoing training that happens throughout the year. And I always love out of my own curiosity, I should start like a research study of some sort, but I'm always asking, um, where a new hire is coming from. Are they coming from a bachelor's program? Are they coming from an associates program? And they're--the only reason I ask is because I've noticed historically no bachelor's programs are gearing an individual to get ready for graduate school. And now in California, we've had the add on of SLPA courses in the practicum on bachelor's programs. Those are really coming up and they're, uh, they're really shoring up those--those areas of the bachelor's programs. But there's always just something a little bit different, about a little something-something about someone who's coming to us from an associate's program, because they, the goal of that program is to train a clinician. They know that that person will undoubtedly be sitting in front of patients and will be working off of a treatment plan and having to do their own. And so there's just that--there's that difference. And I think that over time, um, I have close relationships with a lot of the staff and faculty in, you know, we are fortunate in this area to have several universities and a lot of those university staff members are involved with CASHA so I know them very well, and I know the passion that they pour into those bachelor's programs, and now the SLPA Avenue of those programs? But yeah, there's just that little something that's different. I've found about those associate programs.
So I think you've hit the nail on the head with the idea of it is somebody looking to go work directly with students. Versus, even when I look back at grad school, uh, it's a lot of theory. It's a lot of how to, how to get to the answers, which is important too, because you need to be able to kind of know how to problem solve and get the information that you need. But you also need to know if--I'm going to go work with students, I need to know how to correct an R. or I need to know how to do, you know, a sequence of teaching different clinical skills. And that is not, you know--if you think about too, I was part of, uh, just for one semester and then I realized I bit of more than I could choose--uh, chew--but here in the Valley, I was asked to teach a semester of community college that was focused on in SLPA program and the person in charge of it, she's amazing. She's um, she was a former ARSHA president and owns a clinic, Amy, you know, I love you if you're listening, but, um,
I am dying right now because I know exactly where this is going to go. And I just remember thinking I was going to call you Professor Lisa, I was so proud of you, I think we published all about how you were going to go teach and then how did it go, Lisa?
For me, it was more about, um, I have found that I don't have patience for things? I'm so busy myself, I was like--at the students that were there and for it, I was there and for them. And so out of a class, I think I taught two classes, and out of a class of maybe 25, there were about five of those, five to seven. And then the other ones had so many excuses on why they couldn't do anything or show up. And I was dinem after semester, I was like, “I'm just done like this doesn't I've got a lot going on in myself and I don't need to hear about all of your stuff that's going on”, it was just fascinating to me, but that's not where I was going with it--where I was going was the idea of the practicality of that coursework, and thinking about who's teaching the coursework. So it is people that are actively practicing in the trenches and know the realities of being a clinician, versus if you flip it back to university and you think of, um, whether it be undergrad or grad school, these are researchers. And not to say that, you know--
We need it all! We, yeah, definitely. We need it all.
But that is where it’s coming from, I think, is that when you are getting theory and research, versus when you're getting okay, you've got, these kids have walked into your room and you know, Murphy's law, X, Y, and Z is going to happen and you have to be able to deal with it. It's a very different lens on even instruction. You get more, I think even in the grad programs as well, some adopt some of that philosophy of making it more real life practitioners who are teaching some of these courses.
And you really do, you really do. You need it all. I mentioned, like having this hunger and so going back to finish my bachelor's because I had a lot of practical tools, but then I felt at a certain point, I was stalling out sometimes because we are very independent as an SLPA. You know, Chris is not always in the room with me, even on the same, at the same location as I am. So in the moment there are sometimes things that I definitely have to table and I have to go, okay, wait, we have to put a pin in this because I need Chris's perspective and I need his input. But then there are other things where I have to note a pivot and it's very within my scope to know how, you know, why in that I should be pivoting. So if I have a student come in and you know, any number of things can happen and they're not digging the activity or lesson that, what am I going to do? Well, do I have to check with Chris before I switch my activity? Like no, like I, in that moment have to have an understanding of a lot of different things and then know how to move forward. So because of the independence of an SLPA, I think that I was getting to a point where I was like, okay, I need to be fed more. I need more information to then know how to create more content basically. And so going back to school for me was very, very helpful. So I think a mashup of the shoe would honestly be so, so helpful. I also advocate for SLPAs to be very involved in like the evaluation process and at least, you know, obviously not administering it, but sitting in and watching one, being done, it was game changing for me. And I try to make that a regular practice. I make it like an annual thing. And if it's not, Chris's evaluation that I'm sitting in it's then one of our other full-time SLPs here at the clinic, and I'm just like this little fly on the wall. Like, you don't even know I'm there and like part of the wall, you know, but I'm watching because to see how that test is administered and therefore how the treatment plan has been developed really influences me as an SLPA. I just, I have more context for the treatment that I'm giving and know how it fits into the larger puzzle? Um, and that's something that was instilled in us back at--I'm telling you this PCC program is rocking it because that was something that she was like, Rosemary was just adamant about. She even had, she had us administer, uh, I think it was the Goldman Fristoe. And again, it was like, I know as an SLPA, you will not be doing this. I totally understand that. But if you have a working knowledge of how these things work, it's only going to enhance your practice at the end of the day.
Well, and I think you hit, um, a good point there too, with this idea of--I don't think that SLPs, and sometimes again, SLPAs understand the idea of the independence of this role. And so in the district that Sarah and I worked in, I was involved with pairing SLPs and SLPAs to work together. And I was kind of fascinated to where some SLPs were like “Oh no, no, no, that's just too much work. That's too much work to like supervise somebody.” and I'm like, you're complaining that you're--not complaining even you've got a huge caseload. That's a lot of freaking work, and so having someone else to work with--it's this, to me what's so interesting and, hopefully, again, with the idea that ASHA is going to start certifying people, and maybe there are going to be some national norms that trickle down to all states so this can become more common practice, but, um--is that SLPs are under, you know, under supervision, whatever the legal amount is, but you are an individual who is able to take goals and treat those. And we see this in related disciplines. We don't question this when it comes to CODAs or PTA's, I feel like, like this whole idea of SLP/SLPA working partnerships, it's so backwards compared to our related fields.
So you mentioned the thing about the CODA and I'm also, I feel really fortunate to work with Jesse Ginsburg. You know, we've, if you're listening to this, Jesse, I--I jumped for joy every time I like realize that we're working together. It's great. So through that, you know, I've--through her brand, uh, being exposed to, and--I've learned this stuff before, you know, about self-regulation and all of that, but really relearning it in a sense and reemphasizing the importance of that. And through that, you know, self-regulation right away, you know, you go to sensory integration and occupational therapy and interprofessional collaboration is such an important thing in our field. So I started like chewing on that for a minute and I was like, I don't really--I’ve not seen meetups between on like platforms between CODAs and SLPAs or physical therapy assisstants and SLPAs. So like, if the assistant licensure seeing those conversations happening, so one thing led to another and a friend of mine and I--we love the times that we're in, we're friends through Instagram, but we're really close friends and isn’t crazy how you can see, that you can do that these days?--Um, so she and I, this Thursday actually, we'll be doing an IG Live and it's discussing, and this is advocacy. It's a conversation and we're going to be discussing her role and how she arrived at her CODA licensure and my role and how I wrapped my SLPA, licensure. And it's through those information... sorts of conversations that people get educated and get, you know, more, more knowledge about these things. But when you were kind of to track back for just a minute, when you were talking about the SLPs and being concerned with the workload that they have, mental--mental loads are a lot too, you know, there's a lot that you, as SLPs have on your plate administratively, then with the therapy and evaluations, that's a lot mentally to carry and not to mention, like we invest so much in our clients, right? So we, we invest in their families and how many of us are driving home or laying our head down at night and we're thinking about that kid, you know, and that mom or that dad, um, and we're just constantly consumed with it. That's a lot to carry. Imagine having a teammate in an SLPA who speaks the same lingo, because you can talk to an administrator of principal and assistant principal, a special ed teacher, and they'll get it to an extent, but having someone else in the field of Comm D. understand the lingo that you're dropping is huge. So even to have a sounding board to bounce ideas off of is I think a really great part of the partnership. Um, there are times that Chris and I will enter into these conversations where...and we have the shorthand now, you know, where he's like starts to say something and I totally got it and it's just through like a head nod and that we, but we process those things together. Um, and I think that that is a huge help too.
And I love that you just said teammate, because that's the one thing I think there's this odd idea--first of all, regardless of the SLP/SLPA relationship, just SLP to SLP, we have this very odd idea that we're supposed to be experts and know everything and be really competent, amazing professionals in all areas. Um, and so then when now you've added that layer of SLP/SLPA, and I'm supposed to know all these things, and giving them that direction. And so this idea of “No--be teammates, I don't know everything I can't, I'm going to stop pretending to, because I'm not doing anybody any favors by thinking I am knowing shit, you know, that I don't know”. Um, and so having that other brain on your team to be able to like, you know, go back and forth with, and, and reason through, but I want to talk about that relationship. I think just personality wise, those of us who choose to get into this field is fascinating. And now that they added that layer of complexity to a working relationship and what roles are, um, and again, thinking that maybe one is above another, um, versus really working together as teammates to, for the best interest of that individual you're, you're serving.
Definitely. And I think because it's a teammate and it's a relationship, what's the foundation, not just talking about speech, but what's the foundation of any relationship? Trust. Any relationship that you enter in, whether it's a friendship or anything else--
And communication, absolutely, and so those two things are what are the foundation for an SLP-SLPA. So I think too, having that trust that I will not step outside of my scope or having that trust, that what we discuss as two professionals stays between each other, because we know that we're working something out, trust goes a long way, and it takes us a long way too, to help me be more independent, to help the SLP, understand what I would and wouldn’t to do. There's that trust, knowing that if I am having a conversation with a, another professional or a parent or something like that, and it starts to enter into that area where it, um, we're leaving SLPA land, you know, now entering SLP land, um, that I'm going to put a pin in that there's that trust that I'm going to put up in, in that I'm going to bookmark it, I'm going to bring my SLP into the fold. And I think that that's really helpful. And so I would say, uh, if you're, if you're at all concerned or have hesitations about working with an SLPA, I think actually the first place to start, is it developing a solid relationship with them. Um, in, at the CASHA convention, I was also fortunate to, uh, present with Shelly Bader who's in, uh, SLP and a long standing strong advocate for SLPAs. And we talked about maximizing professional outcomes, and we talked about different pitfalls in different areas that SLP-SLPA teams would experience, one of them being supervision. And I love where Shelley comes at it. She actually walks her teams through, uh, you almost feel more like you're at like a mindset sort of convention or conference sometimes when she's talking, because she's talking about developing a really strong relationship, getting to know the other person and walking through like personality tests and different things like that, to know how to communicate with each other and how one receives feedback and how the other one delivers it. And all of that kind of stuff. That's really super important because that's going to establish everything else.
Um, well, even something as simple as “How is the best way to get information to you? Do you like texts, like email? Do you like a phone call? Do you want a one-to-one meeting every week?” or whatever it is, those are all things that are so variable from team to team, not even just, you know, from individual to individual, but it's not like there's a stock answer. So I think that's one of the things. And then I love that idea of relationships and trust because I can think of the first time I was presented with working with an SLPA--I had never even heard of the position. All I heard was another person that knows what I do? Sweet! Sign me up, I'm so excited! I came from that, not, um--Sarah, you super valid point that I think it's like if people kind of already feeling like imposter syndrome and then you're like “Oh great. Now I've got to be an expert, not just to contact with on campus, but I've got to supervise somebody? So if I'm not comfortable saying, I don't know, then, you know, because I'm in the supervisor role, that's a problem!”.
But then just think, like, when you're in a meeting with a teacher, the only thing that like gives you any kind of like--
Security is--well, they probably don't know--I just don’t think they're going to question me cause they probably don't have that background!
Yeah. And think of the trust that's strengthened when you are honest with each other, and are like you know what I’m not going to--
Exactly! Like “She does know. And she going to know when I'm a fraud”.
Like, and the idea of, so thinking of that first initial relationship and trying to set it up for success, the idea of talking about those things like communication styles, preferred ways to, to receive and provide feedback, preferred communication methods, but then also respecting the individual because I can remember the SLPA that I got is actually working with us in SLP Toolkit now as well. Um, it was like we’re stealing all of our SLPAs--
We're going to probably try to steal you next!
So basically you’re next! So, uh, don't love being an SLPA too much, um, no. Um, but I can remember when she started with me, uh, that very first year in our very first experience and I was just so grateful. And after a couple of weeks, she opened up and said that her first week of being assigned--and is first week in the district too, she was new to our school district--and that, um, one of the SLP supervisors that she worked with, I guess, had bus duty or was helping kids get off, you know, that first week of school, it's all hands on deck and whatever, and basically brushed her aside and said “You sit over there until I can deal with you!”. So think about that. If that's your first experience with somebody, that I'm already feeling like I'm a nuisance and then maybe not being competent, you know, especially I think og back then, if she was new to be in an SLPA and new to a district, and then you're like “Oh, okay,”--that's got to, you've got to think about that. This is somebody that is there, not just for you, but for those students and that you're setting the tone for that relationship from day one. And you know, it is kind of, it is tragic that going back to what you said, Sarah, about SLP personalities, we always kind of joke about it. I feel like in our field that there are the people people, and there are the people that are kind of maybe more science people, and maybe don't, um, value the relationships maybe as much or aren't as strong and making those relationships as the people kind of based clinicians? And that's, you know, can be difficult when you're working in a team that you're trying to have that sort of supervisory dynamic. It is a learning curve.
Speaker 4 (48:54):
Yeah. And I don't want to minimize, you know, cause I hear I'm a part of, you know, different Facebook groups or different communities. And I'll hear of these frustrating stories. Like the one you just mentioned from people and I don't want to minimize those. I know that they exist, but what I also know exists is the really strong professional relationships. I know they exist because I'm walking in it. And I also have many other people who are examples to me. And so if anything, I want to not minimize those stories, but more to like reach into the pit to pull people out and like “Come out here!”. It's like reaching down into, you know, in the Wizard of Oz where it's like dark and gray and gloomy and like picking them up into technicolor, because it does exist!
It's not norm, or it shouldn't be the norm, and experiencing that on either end that is like--it's time to like kind of assess, like “Why is this--is this reparable?”. And if not, as an SLPA, knowing you have options to, you know, maybe I even think back in that time, at least to try to repair some of the communication, talk to supervisors about what are some ways to do that, and if it doesn't work, then…
And if it doesn't work, then guess what you need to do? Advocate for yourself. Look how I just brought it back to the peripheral. It's true! I’m glad you said that let's--I want to highlight really positive working relationships. It is possible to be on teams that function very well together, um, and so if you're in a situation that is less than ideal, you need to advocate for yourself and find something, see if you can resolve it like Lisa said, but if you can't move on and find a relationship where you are--there is nothing worse to me, I think, than the idea of you dread going to work. That just like breaks my heart. I know most people are right now. Everybody's just doing the best they can and trying to survive.
But if it's a constant in your life and it's not related to a pandemic, you need to probably rethink why that is that you just absolutely dread going into work every day. I mean, we got into this for a reason and you’ve gotta remember that “why”.
Yeah and, as much as it's advocacy on the SLPA’s part, it's also advocacy on the SLPs part. So if you're an SLP who has had a positive experience with SLPAs and really values our licensure, I think it's on them too to also advocate and be that ally and create that seat at the table because sometimes there are individuals who know the table exists, but have no clue in how to create the seat there for themselves. And, let's be honest, the powers that be sometimes will listen more to that SLP voice than maybe the SLPA voice so if we have allies and advocates in SLPs as well, that's going to be equally as important. Uh, but yes, back to advocacy, it's so crucial, um, to have to have those allies--here at the clinic, we've--we really value the SLP voice and we've carved out different leadership roles for SLPAs, um, myself being one of them in training and education. But we have other SLPs who are on fire for social media. And so actually our social media director is an SLPA and she rocks it! She knows the ins and outs of all things, you know, it it's, it's great. Uh, so there are a lot of leadership opportunities for us and if you're not even sure of like, well, how do, how would I be a leader find that thing that you can't stop talking about, you know, in, in, related in the job. And that's, that's your thing about leadership that right there, and it could be a number of things. It doesn't necessarily even have to be therapy-related. It could be like, you're super uplifting to other people. You, you get your energy from making someone else feel great. Wouldn't it be amazing if you were that person to create all those really cute graphics that we see all over social media all the time that people could open and get that like shot of dopamine in the arm, you know, that's your area of leadership and advocacy because after your name, you're going to see those four letters. SLPA that right there. Boom. That's being visible that’s showing up for you and for other people.
Well, and I, I think one of my takeaways from that panel discussion we had at the town hall too, was that the idea of advocate--advocacy is not--it's not always in response to something negative. It is at those--that communication and that act can start from a positive place and it's more about spreading the word and making people, like you said, jazzed or excited about this and the different ways that we can incorporate, whatever it is that we're we're advocating for.
Mhm, definitely, and in this day and age, we have so many different avenues and platforms where we can advocate? Um, and you know, maybe if you are experiencing an, im--an imposter syndrome scenario right now, maybe here's an idea, even try advocacy in another Avenue of your life, that you maybe feel more confident in and more of an expert in that area. So let's say, you know, cause we're multi-dimensional people, let's say you have a hobby or something like that, and you are rocking that hobby, maybe advocate in that area of interest. And it's more to sharpen your tools so that in this other area where you feel weak eventually it's like “Okay, now, now I know how to do it for myself as a speech professional also”. So that's an idea too. It doesn't have to look like you come blazing right out of the gate and are like, you know, marching signs that I don't know, megaphones and all this other stuff, but it could be that you're sharpening your tools in another area so that when you are ready and need it, it's there for you.
I--that is fantastic advice because I, again, and I, and we mentioned this earlier in the episode too, is we all think advocacy is marching on Capitol Hill and that's just not the case. And in fact, I don't recommend it. I don't recommend ever marching into a room with signs and a megaphone. I would probably recommend again, having a relationship starting small. Um, but it's a skill that you develop and advocating for yourself with your spouse or your partner or your children or starting from home is just developing that skill of how to be a good advocate likable and how to get stuff. What's the saying about you get more bees with honey than vinegar, right? So that's not a strength of yours. Maybe start there like little baby steps of how to become a master manipulator. Really. I do sometimes think though I am pretty good at that. And so I could get my way a lot.
No, so it’s about making your passion contagious, whatever that is, whether you're passionate about changing something in your workforce or reinforcing something that you love about your job, that is what advocacy is about is just make your passion contagious.
Absolutely. I could not agree more.
I don't think we could end on literally a better note. There's like so many more things I want to talk about related to this entire topic. Um, and with you, I could, I think we could talk to you for hours and hours too. So we may have to do a follow-up episode, but I do want anyone that has like more questions or they want more information, or you're an SLP who just got an SLPA or you're new to being an SLPA in, in any, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can do a follow-up episode related to this because I'm thinking of about six more questions, but I wanted to end on this note because I love that we were able to talk about advocacy in a positive way and, and, um, I hope it inspires others to do that. So thank you so much for hanging out with us in the confessional today.
Thank you for having me! This has been a really great way to start the day and I look forward to what's to come.
Awesome, which is working for SLP Toolkit.
[Inaudible] They're going to be so sorry to ever introduced us.
Oh my gosh, I love both of them. And they're, they're two of my--I have a lot now that I think about, and this is where the infectious, you know, you need to surround yourself with people who--who make you want to be a better version of yourself every day. Chris and Jesse are--are those people. Lisa and Angela, the owners of the clinic here where I work are those people. And you need to surround yourself with people like that constantly.
Yes. I could not agree more with that. Alright, Lisa, any last parting words?
No, I, again, please email us because even if, um, we could do like a blog post or something, any of your burning questions about SLP/SLPA relationships, or SLPs in general, even scenarios that you're in, that you would want, like some help, maybe troubleshooting. We'd love to hear that. And also as always, if you have a second to rate and review the podcast, we always appreciate that, but, um, I'm just super excited that we had to have this or that we were able to have this conversation today with you Celina, and we hope to see you in real life.
Yes, soon, soon! We're keeping those fingers crossed.
Yes, once we all have the vaccine.