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May 25, 2013

Professional Issues Class Post: Quotes to Live By

Review a list (approximately 6 pages) of quotes and thoughts about education and learning. Look through them and find a couple that you feel relate to your experience as you have pursued the profession. Use that to talk about how you got to this point. What are you feeling as you approach these last few weeks of this part of your education?

After reviewing the list of quotes (given to me by my professor), here are the ones that most strikingly resonated with me the most:

"...Life is not a multiple choice test, it's an open-book essay exam." --Alan Blinder (Princeton)

This is so true, especially in the context of our field in communication disorders.  When I began this new academic journey, I was shocked that most (not all) of my assignments and tests were an open book/notes format, and initially I felt like I was cheating in a way by consistently referring back to those tools during an assignment.  I felt weird about this process until one professor once stated early on in my PRE-SLP classes (I wish I could remember who it was!) that it was normal for clinicians to go back to textbooks to refer to information-- it is a practice that many professionals partake in.  And why wouldn't we?  We aren't expected to know everything-- our field is simply way too broad to try to "know" everything there is to know.

I realized quickly that by adopting a study format of "open notes" for most of my assignments, my professors were teaching me to find correct information, problem solve and critically think/analyze to determine if what I've discovered is the right fit for the question/assignment, and the process heavily familiarized myself with every inch, nook, and cranny of every textbook I currently own.  Seriously.  Need to know something about language development at the pre-linguistic period? I know exactly where to look.  Curious about aphasia therapy techniques for a person with Broca's aphasia?  Boom.  No problem, I got this and can find the information in seconds.  By adopting an open book/notes approach to assignments, I've learned that the information is always readily and easily accessible to me should I one day need it.

I imagine that as I enter the professional world post graduation, this mindset will readily come to my aide.  There will always be new clients, no conditions, unfamiliar scenarios that will present themselves to me, and by having an open mind, sharp critical thinking instincts, and easily-accessible library of information at my fingertips, I will find the answers I am seeking.

"All things are difficult before they are easy." --Thomas Fuller 

THIS.  This quote resonates with me right now, this very moment.  I am two weeks into my last placement, which is a wonderful private practice that has embraced me as a student clinician.  While I feel like I should be coming into this placement full of confidence, I've found myself face to face with scenarios that are new and frightening to me.  This experience got me to thinking of my past life, my pre-SLP life in which I was a successful retail manager of a multi-million dollar mall-chain store.  I had huge responsibilities, a staff to manage, merchandise to process, and sales to make to keep my store afloat, and all too well I remember how stressful and difficult things were in the beginning.  I remember that gut-sinking feeling of nerves and anxiety as I approached new situations as a beginning manager.  With time, years, company mentorship, and experience, I grew to be a strong manager, a "top-10" store in my company (out of 800 stores, not bad!), and those feelings of inadequacy began to melt away as confidence took its place.

I imagine that same experience will happen to me as I build clinical confidence.  It is always hard to start out doing something new-- it's scary, nerve-wracking, and anxiety inducing! I have to keep reminding myself that every other clinician had to start out from scratch, too, just as I have, and that my inexperience will soon grow into clinical confidence once things adjust from being new and scary, to been there, done that.

"Failure is not the end but is the opportunity to try again." --Tommy Phelps

This is something I must continually remind myself as I work with my patients, young and old.  It is easy to forget how hard and challenging some of the goals our clients are working towards-- what seems easy to us ("Make the /k/ sound, name 5 objects that are round, etc.") might seem like real challenges to our clients.  I must strive to never loose sight of that fact, that I am aiding and enhancing the performances of people who might have delays, deficiencies, and disorders that make even the simplest of tasks seem like mountains to climb.   Just because a client fails on his or her attempt at the task doesn't mean the end of the world-- it may just mean that I need to change or adapt my approach, re-think the goal or skill being obtained, or apply creativity or critical thinking to develop another approach that will aid the client in becoming successful.

"The truly educated never graduate." --Unknown

As I prepare to leave the academic world for the clinical world, this quote rings true to me in many ways.  Just because I am finishing up my formal education in communication disorders, this fact does not mean that I can consider my educational journey at an end.  Quite the opposite... I consider my education to have officially begun. There is no way that any CD graduate program can fully and completely provide the information to everything needed to know within the scope of our practice, thus, my continued academic journey begins as I start to delve into the topics that I wasn't afforded the full opportunity to learn about in my masters program.  I believe this is one of the reasons that ASHA mandates that CCC-SLP's continue to grow and expand clinical knowledge to maintain certifications and licenses.  Here's to continued learning in the field of speech-language pathology!

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