May 29, 2013

Professional Issues Class Post: Special Interest Groups

ASHA offers special interest groups. Review those on the ASHA website and suppose a kind soul were to pay for you to join-- which ones might you join, and why?  Might you tell the kind soul a gentle 'no thanks' and ask for something else... if so, what would you ask for and why do you feel that way?

Such an intriguing question, and one that I can answer quite easily-- I've been involved in NSSLHA (The National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association) for a few years now, and during that time, I've had the pleasure of joining several of the "SIG" special topics groups.  I've been asked many times during my student life if NSSLHA was worth joining (and I plan to do a full post on my opinions about NSSLHA and why, soon) and this is a great example of a positive benefit of being a member-- community, resources, and information readily available!

Overview of how to join an ASHA Special Interest Group
In-depth overview of each SIG by category
Already an ASHA/NSSLHA member? Click here to join a SIG!

So, back to the question at hand: yes.  Yes I would absolutely join a SIG (special interest group), since at the time of this blog post writing, I've been involved in the following Special Interest groups (at various times during my NSSLHA membership):

Sig 1: Language Learning and Education
Sig 3: Voice and Voice Disorders
Sig 4: Fluency and Fluency Disorders
Sig 9: Hearing and Hearing Disorders in Children 
Sig 13: Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders
Sig 18: Telepractice

Several of these SIG groups were picked because the topic was found to be extremely interesting to me as a future clinician:  specifically SIG 3, 4, and 13.  I joined the SIG groups 9 and 18 for different reasons...

Namely, SIG group 9 appealed to me because I am extremely hard of hearing (HOH) and have personal insight into aspects of the Deaf and HOH community.  I wear a behind-the-ear Phonak hearing aid that greatly increases my ability to function in this profession, and I understand the struggles that hearing challenged individuals face.

I joined the SIG group 18 because I've spent extensive time collaborating with a local private practice, The Center for Speech and Language of Huntsville, AL and the director approached me to gather insight as to if adding telepractice to her business would be of benefit.  After joining the SIG 18 group, I was able to really delve into the topic, collaborate with other professionals about the subject matter, and I was also able to attend numerous SIG 18 events held at the Atlanta 2012 ASHA Convention.  All in all, this SIG group membership was extremely helpful to both me and the practice!

I found SIG group 13 to be one that I was able to glean a great deal of insight from.  Dysphagia and swallowing disorders are topics that are very overwhelming to me, as a 'green' clinician in those topics, and the SIG group proved to be most helpful--especially when various professionals would share personal accounts and information about their practices.  It was very enlightening to me that even skilled, knowledgable clinicians sometimes need a "second opinion" or push in the right direction with regards to clinical applications. This sharing of knowledge was very insightful to me.

After reflecting about my involvement in the SIG groups, I discovered a pattern which explains some of my reasoning for joining the groups when I did, and, as a undergrad to graduate student who is about to soon graduate, I recommend new CD students consider the same process:

I first joined NSSLHA as a PRE-SLP undergraduate student.  At that time, I joined SIG group 9: Hearing Disorders (for personal reasons and motives) to see what the fuss was about and how the process worked.  As I began taking a class in language disorders, I then joined SIG group 1 (Language Disorders) for more information.  As a first semester SLP graduate student, I then joined SIG groups 3 while enrolled in my Voice Disorders class, again, to bolster my information collections.  I bet you can see the pattern... soon after, I was enrolled in Dysphagia and finally, Dysfluency... and as I approached those classes, I joined the appropriate SIG group to enhance the information I was collecting in classes.

In summary, I highly and strongly recommend that if you are a student (or professional, even!) and navigating your way through your courseload or clinic demands, decide which topics you will want to hone information on, and join a SIG group.

I promise, it will be the best $10 you've ever spent!

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