7 Tips for Landing Your First SLP Job

Guest post by Erica L. Fener, PhD, vice president, strategic growth, at Progressus Therapy

There has never been a better time to be a speech-language pathologist (SLP). According to the U.S. Department of Labor (2014), SLP jobs will grow at a rate of 19% between 2012 and 2022, which translates to an additional 26,000 jobs over the course of the decade. The median pay in 2012 was $69,870 per year, and the current number of jobs—more than 134,000—indicates plenty of opportunity, even before projected growth.

If you just finished graduate school in this field, congratulations! Now all you have to do is ensure you find the right job to begin building your long-term career. Consider these seven tips to help you land your first SLP job:

1. Apply for Your Temporary State License
Every state is different, but most require you to hold a temporary license before becoming an SLP clinical fellow—the first step to being a full-time SLP. Depending on your state, you may be able to apply for the license during your degree program. Your professors can help you figure out how.

2. Land a Professional Clinical Fellowship
Your clinical fellowship year (CFY) is a crucial step on the path to working as a full-time SLP. The purpose of the CFY is to transition from theoretical knowledge to practical application. The experience you gain will be invaluable, if it is the right kind.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2015a) recommends choosing a setting that provides a full range of speech pathology services, rather than one that solely performs screenings, and treats you as a member of the staff. Also, aim to do your CFY in a setting that you would eventually like to work in, such as a school or a nursing home, so that you will get the training you need to be successful in your future career.

3. Complete Your Fellowship
Successful completion of the clinical fellow requires you to work at least 35 hours a week for 36 weeks, totaling 1,260 hours. You may also work part time, at least five hours a week, until you hit the total. Note that your mentor must be a verified SLP, which you can check through the ASHA Certification Verification page (ASHA, 2015b).

4. Reflect on Your Experience
After you complete your hours, it is time to move forward and look for a real job, which requires reflection. This step might seem a little overwhelming, but thinking through your experience can make a world of difference in your professional career. What did you like? What would you prefer to avoid? How did the setting suit your nature? The answers to these questions will help you determine where you apply.

5. Start Searching for a Job
In rare cases, the setting where you completed your fellowship may choose to hire you. Typically, however, you should not expect your mentoring facility to offer you a job. If it does, wonderful, but you must be prepared to look for work elsewhere, so it is time to start the job search. Check out career fairs and job boards, look online, and utilize your network for prospects.

6. Look Outside the Box
Not all SLP jobs will be specifically labeled as such. Some might be called “speech therapist” or “speech-language pathologist and children’s therapist.” If you are working with older people, your duties might be split between speech-language pathology and physical therapy. The specific job you land depends on your setting and your skills. To get a better idea, do your research and review job boards to see what types of jobs are available.

7. Nail the Interview
In your interview, be personable and honest about your experience and your desires. If you are worried about it, read a few articles detailing some tricks for performing well in the interview. According to Business Insider (2014), these can be as simple as warming up your hands, mirroring your interviewer’s body language, and reading facial cues. Your expert knowledge, good humor, and attention to detail will eventually land you the job you are looking for.

Now that you have that job offer, it is time to take a little break and celebrate—but not for too long, of course. Soon enough it will be time to pack your supplies and start your new career as a professional SLP, helping improve the lives of others.

References

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2015a). ASHA certification verification. Retrieved from http://www.asha.org/eweb/ashadynamicpage.aspx?site=ashacms&webcode=ccchome

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2015b). Selecting a clinical fellowship (CF) setting. Retrieved from http://www.asha.org/certification/SelectingCFSetting/

Business Insider. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/psychological-interviewing-tricks-2014-9

U.S. Department of Labor. (2014). Speech-language pathologists. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/speech-language-pathologists.htm

About the Author

Erica L. Fener, PhD, is vice president, strategic growth, at Progressus Therapy, a leading provider of therapy employment, including school-based therapy and early intervention services. Progressus Therapy connects speech-language pathologists with schools across the United States.

Tips for Assessing Bilingual Children As a Monolingual SLP – by Leisha Vogl

Hello Speech-Language Pathologists-

We are re-posting an article from ASHASphere on bilingual patients written by Leisha Vogl. We hope you find it insightful.

-Plural Team

 

Tips for Assessing Bilingual Children As a Monolingual SLP

by Leisha Vogl

 

There are an estimated 337 different languages used (spoken, written, and/or signed) in the United States. Even bilingual speech-language pathologists will encounter situations in which the client’s primary language is unknown.  There are standardized, evidence-based tests for the Spanish-English population. But what about Russian, Vietnamese, German and so on? What do you do?

Here are some key practices that can aid any SLP evaluating a child who speaks an unfamiliar language:

  • Conduct a family/caregiver interview, which can help minimize cultural and linguistic biases. Understanding how others in the family view the client’s communication gives insight into expectations and the possibility for deficits. Is the client able to meet these expectations? If not, why and how? Do they differ significantly from others in that communication circle?
  • Use an interpreter. Meet with the interpreter prior to any contact with the family to review the process, terminology, and what you want him or her to do. If possible, use someone outside the child’s family and circle of friends to reduce the possibility of bias. Interpreters can provide key information, such as, “It was very hard for me to understand him,” or, “He doesn’t use prepositions correctly.” Using such information, along with additional testing measures can help support or negate a true disorder.
  • Use highly pragmatic tests if formal/standardized testing is not available in the child’s primary language. These tests will help determine the client’s grasp of conversational language, which is the first building block to more complex language. The same is true in monolinguals—that the first language we learn is social in nature. We e acquire more complex understanding and use of language by building on social language. You cannot report standard scores when using standardized testing not normed for that language. You can use the information as qualitative data to support the rest of your findings. I personally like administering the Oral and Written Language Scales (OWLS), now a second edition, for this population. It is relatively easy and quick to administer.
  • Employ Dynamic Assessment, which  involves pretest of a skill, an intervention to address that skill, and then a post-test to determine if there was progress. This method of assessment can be useful for evaluating multilingual individuals. If intense intervention is needed, this can indicate  impairment.Review the ASHA website for more information on Dynamic Assessment.

Things to be mindful of regarding typical bilingual language development include the following.

  • The silent period occurs when a client is first exposed to a new language. Typically this period ends between six months to a year. Some common misidentifications in this phase are Autism Spectrum Disorder, Selective Mutism, and language delay. It has also been noted that with a significant change in school, family situation and the like can trigger some children to revert to the silent period. This is why family and caregiver interviewing is so essential to diagnosing a language disorder.
  • Bilingual development is recognized in two stages. Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS), also known as “conversational language,” typically takes two to three years to acquire. Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), also known as “academic language,” takes five to seven years to develop. Some common misidentifications during these phrases are Language Disorder and Specific Learning Disability. Be careful that the years refer to a 12-month period of constant and consistent exposure. Our academic calendars are typically nine months, so it may take more academic years to acquire conversational and academic language.

Remember when evaluating any child that there is variety among the “same” cultures and languages.

What additional information do you, or would you, include in an evaluation?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leisha Vogl, MS CCC-SLP, is the owner of Sensible Speech-Language Pathology, LLC, in Salem, Oregon. She’s worked in the field of speech-language pathology for about 7 years ranging from early intervention, school-age populations, and adults in an acute care setting. Leisha is proficient in Spanish and American Sign Language. You may follow Sensible Speech on Facebook or Twitter. Check out the website at www.sensiblespeech.com

Guest Post: 4 Types of Hearing Tests You Should Consider

Our guest post this week comes from HEARING Life Australia and explains the benefits and uses of different types of hearing tests. The intention is to share this with your patients to help simplify the complexities in such a way that anyone can understand.

-Plural Team

 4 Types of Hearing Tests You Should Consider

conversationIf you often find yourself asking your loved ones to repeat themselves, find it difficult to follow conversations, or receive frequent complaints that you talk too loudly, it may be time to book a hearing test at your local hearing clinic.

Hearing tests employ a range of technologies that can determine your level of hearing impairment and whether you need to invest in a hearing aid. But with so many hearing tests available, it’s important to know which one is right for you.

Consider the following types of hearing tests:   

         1. Pure-Tone Testing

This hearing test will reveal the faintest tones a person can hear at various frequencies, from low to high. This test involves an audiometer machine emitting a range of beeps and whistles, called pure tones, with the participant responding to each sound.

When taking the pure-tone test, the participant may be asked to respond to the sounds through raising a finger or hand, pressing a button, or vocally affirming to indicate that a sound was heard.

The results of the test are plotted on an audiogram, a graph that charts the degree and type of hearing loss.

Pure-tone testing is a behavioral measurement that relies on patient reaction, and therefore is best performed on adults and children mature enough to cooperate with the test procedure.

         2. Speech Discrimination Tests

These tests involve an audiologist assessing the participants’ ability to hear speech, with the results also recorded on an audiogram. These tests may involve the participant having to repeat words that are said to them.

Hearing loss that comes with aging generally begins with individuals losing the ability to hear higher frequencies, so that certain speech sounds begin to sound confusingly similar. A speech test can measure the amount of experienced speech distortion.

In order to assess the participants ability to understand speech with background noise, speech testing may be conducted in a quiet or noisy environment. This test is typically used on older children and adults, and may be used to confirm the results of the pure-tone test.

         3. Auditory Brain Stem Response (ABR)

The ABR test provides information about the inner ear (cochlea) and the brain pathways required for hearing. For this test, electrodes are connected to the head in order to monitor the brain’s response to sounds. The participant lays still or even sleeps during the test.

This test can be performed on children, or those that might have difficulty with more typical behavioural methods of hearing loss tests.

         4. Online Hearing Tests

For an initial assessment at home, taking an online hearing test is a great way find out whether someone should seek further professional assistance. While an online hearing test is not intended to replace a hearing assessment with an experienced hearing care professional, it may assist in identifying whether hearing loss is an issue.

In order to undertake an online hearing test at home, it is necessary to have Internet access with the ability to stream sounds, as well as a pair of headphones. Before starting, it is important to check that the computer volume is on and that the surrounding environment is quiet.

Online hearing tests may consist of different components, such as an audio screening which will test the respondents’ ability to hear sounds. An online test may also include questions that require honest answers regarding the person’s hearing ability. These tests will typically generate a score or recommendation that can be used as the starting point to assessing hearing health.


About the Author:

hearinglifeThis post was written by HEARINGLife Australia, one of the world’s leading networks of hearing care professionals. HEARINGLife has provided hearing services to Australians for over 70 years.

HEARINGLife aims to provide sufficient information about hearing loss, hearing aids and hearing tests by providing independent advice and to provide customers with options in a way that is easily understandable. More information can be obtained from HEARINGLife’s website and social media profiles: Google Plus | Facebook  | Twitter

 

Guest Post by Melanie Lewis: Hearing Loss

Foreword:

Our guest post this week, by Melaine Lewis with Hearing Direct, explains the details of hearing loss and recommended courses of action.

-Plural Team

HEARING LOSS

EarHearing loss can occur due to a number of reasons, these can be due to changes that the body undergoes (age-related) or more man-made reasons such as exposure to harmful noise. According to Kochkin’s 2008 survey (*MarkeTrak VIII) 35 million Americans are thought to present  the symptoms of impaired hearing and the number is projected to increase to 40 million by 2025.

The biggest group and the subject of this post are the age-related (Presbycusis) hearing loss suffers whose condition is often misunderstood. Many sufferers chose to ‘accept’ diminished hearing as a given fact, though modern healthcare offers means to mange the condition so its influence on daily lives is minimized.

What Is Age-Related Hearing Loss?

Let’s start by explaining what it isn’t. It isn’t a condition that an individual can control like noise induced hearing loss nor does it normally lead to complete hearing loss.

It is a gradual demise in hearing ability known as sensorineural hearing loss. As the body matures, two processes lead to reduced hearing of certain frequencies. The first is degeneration of a part of the inner ear that contains micropscopic blood vessels, while the second process is the decline in sensitive hair cells inside the cochlea (a snail-shell like structure in the inner ear) that gradually become damaged or die due to increases in free radicals that damage certain cells in the body. The body is unable to regrow these hair cells (these are really nerve endings that detect sound) which leads to the categorization of agerelated hearing loss as a permanent one.

ear mechanisms

What Are The Typical Symptoms Of Age-Related Hearing Loss?

The level of hearing loss will vary between individuals. Some will be able to make simple adjustments in their lifestyle to counteract its affects, while in the case of other individuals the deterioration in hearing ability will require the intervention of modern healthcare.

Symptoms and signs can include:

  • Certain sounds seem too loud
  • Difficulty following a group conversation
  • Difficulty hearing in noisy areas
  • Hard to tell high-pitched sounds (such as “s” or “th”) from one another
  • Increased difficulty in understanding women and children
  • Problems hearing when there is background noise
  • Voices that sound mumbled or slurred

What Is The Recommended Course of Action?

If you suspect that you or someone you care for might be experiencing the telltale signs of hearing loss, it should be investigated by your family doctor, local ENT unit or hearing center. Although the most common causes are linked to aging, other causes should also be investigated to be  ruled out.

These may include:

  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Certain infections such as meningitis, mumps, scarlet fever and measles
  • Use of certain medicines
  • Genetic conditions
  • Skull fractures
  • Traumatic noisy events

To eliminate and diagnose the precise cause(s), a hearing test will need to be performed. A basic test can be conducted at your family doctor’s practice, though it is likely that you may also need to book a physical audiometry test at your local ENT or hearing center.

Equipped with the result, your healthcare advisor will be able to recommend the most suitable solution from using ALDs (Assistive Listening Devices such as Hearing Aids) or adapting certain communication techniques. In the case of severe hearing loss, learning sign language and even cochlear implants may form part of the recommended options.

Hearing loss does not have to undermine your quality of life. It can and should be managed.

 

About the Author:

HearingDirectMelanie Lewis is a trained hearing aid audiologist. She works for Hearing Direct, the UK’s biggest supplier of deaf and hard of hearing aids from hearing aid accessories such as batteries to ALDs (Assistive Listening Devices).

 

* The MarkeTrak VIII survey included 80,000 members of the National Family Opinion (NFO) panel. Of these, 14,623 hearing impaired individuals were identified.

Guest Post by Tom Rokins: How To Look After Your Hearing

Foreword:

Hearing loss can occur at any age for any number of reasons. It most typically occurs between the ages of 49 to 55. It may, or may not, surprise you to learn that people often do not realize they have developed a hearing loss, as it can be a subtle and gradual change. Our guest post this week, by Tom Rokins with Boots Hearingcare, details several easy methods of care and prevention.

-Plural Team

 

HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOUR HEARING

As you know, your ears are pretty important to living a high quality life – they are the things which hear everything going on around you, help you keep balance and help you get around in life.

ear

Think about what things would be like if you suddenly lost your hearing tomorrow; it wouldn’t be a very enjoyable experience.

That’s why you should want to take as much care of those precious aural organs as possible. Thankfully, they’re not too difficult to look after – a bit of TLC and common sense should work wonders to keep your ears working better and for longer.

Keep Loud Music to a Minimum

Everyone’s hearing can be affected negatively by loud music, but some people are more sensitive to this damage than others. Think back to the last gig you went to, or the last time you spent all night clubbing – when you got home, you almost definitely experienced a ringing in your ears, a bit like tinnitus.

That is temporary hearing damage. Sadly, the more you expose yourself to these noisy environments, the more the hearing damage increases. This degeneration is usually slow and subtle – you don’t notice it until it’s too late.

60/60 rule

It’s worth keeping in mind the “60/60” rule – if you listen to an MP3 player at 60% volume, keep it limited to 60 minutes a day or less. Noise-cancelling headphones can be of use; because they eliminate pesky background noise, you can hear better at a lower volume.

If you’re in the club or at a gig, make sure to keep a reasonable distance from the speakers and regularly step outside for a break. If your ears are hurting or ringing, or you have to shout to be heard by someone two meters (~7 ft.) away, the music is too loud.

Drugs That Can Harm Your Hearing

Some drugs can, believe it or not, damage your ears; these are called ototoxic drugs, and they can cause tinnitus and balance problems as well as hearing loss.

Some of these can actually cause permanent deafness, but it is incredibly unlikely that you will be prescribed one of those unless it is completely necessary, a life or death situation. Others will have a temporary effect, and should clear up once the drugs are out of your system.

Some cancer drugs can cause permanent hearing loss, such as Cisplatin. If you’re on a smaller dosage you should be fine, but higher ones could lead to deafness. Aminoglycoside antibiotics, used in treating potentially fatal diseases, can also cause hearing loss, but are becoming less common.

Aspirin and other salicylates can cause tinnitus, loss of hearing and even vertigo when taken in large doses, but these effects are reversible once you stop taking the drug. Quinine, the anti-malarial drug, can have similar results.

Ear Wax and Its Effects on the Ear

Maybe you think of ear wax as a nuisance. You’d be wrong – it protects the inside of your ears, trapping particles of dust, sweat, dirt and the like to prevent infections. It slowly works its way out, taking the rubbish with it.

Too much ear wax can cause itchiness, discomfort, or even slightly diminished hearing. Do not, under any circumstances, start rooting around in there with a cotton bud – this can push the wax further in or even do damage to your ear drum.

Instead, go and get an appointment with your doctor. Once it’s been cleared out, if you are still experiencing problems hearing, you should visit a trained audiologist.

About the author:

Boots HearingcareTom Rokins wrote this article on behalf of Boots Hearingcare, the hearing aid specialists in the UK. If you need any advice on looking after your hearing or even want a free hearing test- get in touch.

Guest Post by Matt Honaker: Career Advice for New SLP Grads

Career

 

Foreword:

With graduation fast approaching in the coming weeks for many SLP students, we have invited guest blogger Matt Honaker from Advanced Medical, a therapy staffing company that provides travel physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech language therapy jobs in specialties and locations nationwide. We hope this will give new graduates some practical advice on job-seeking in today’s market. Enjoy.

–Plural Team

Career Advice for New SLP Grads 

 

For most novices to Speech-Language Pathology, the stress of grad school doesn’t disappear on graduation day. While classes are over, your brand new career is just starting, and now, applying for jobs is on the agenda. But before diving into the application process, there are several things to consider. For instance, in many cases, the job you get now will set the standard and act as a basis for all other work to come. So, it pays to do just a little bit more homework and pave out a pathway to future success in your field. Choosing your job setting, position style, and career focus can help you better design a plan for your future that both suits your professional interests and supports your personal needs.

Job settings for Speech-Language Pathologists often come in the form of a school or a hospital. Understanding the expectations of each can help you gauge your interest in one or the other. SLPs in hospitals tend to work with adult patients with acquired disorders, while therapists who work SLP school jobs work with children with developmental disorders. Of the two, hospitals also necessitate a faster pace, heavier caseload, and less flexible schedule. However, hospitals also offer higher salaries.

In the way of position style, traveling speech pathologists often gain more freedom than those in permanent positions. However, travel positions do only last 3-months at a time. Still, there are far more benefits to starting out in a travel position than diving right into a permanent job. In addition to the substantial pay and all-inclusive benefits, traveling speech therapy jobs allow therapists to try various job settings before choosing one. It also provides an opportunity for newly graduated SLPs to do some traveling while they continue to enhance their role as a Speech-Language Pathologist.

Finally, if your career focus has not already been determined, keep an open mind. Set a five-year plan, but don’t force yourself to actualize everything on your agenda. Ultimately, your career focus should be based on what interests you most and what will make you the SLP you’ve dreamed of being. For example, if you grew up bilingual, feel comfortable teaching and counseling others, and are happy doing so, then focus your career around language disorders. Even if you are working in all facets of SLP in your day job, your interests and outside study should still be actively pursued. Be true to yourself and focus in on a career track that best suits you.

–Matt Honaker

About:

Advanced Medical, is a therapy staffing company that provides travel physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech language therapy jobs in specialties and locations nationwide. By focusing on quality and integrity, Advanced Medical has emerged at the forefront of the travel therapy staffing industry.