Good for Our Clients, Good for Us Struggling graduate students can help themselves by taking to heart the lessons they will use with their future clients. Student's Say
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Student's Say  |   September 01, 2015
Sarah Feigenbaum (left) with roommates Audrey Petersen (center) and Alexandra Rousseau.
Good for Our Clients, Good for Us
Author Notes
  • Sarah Feigenbaum is a second-year graduate student in speech-language pathology at Louisiana State University. After graduation in May 2016, she plans to work with children with developmental disabilities. sarah.feigenbaum@knights.ucf.edu
    Sarah Feigenbaum is a second-year graduate student in speech-language pathology at Louisiana State University. After graduation in May 2016, she plans to work with children with developmental disabilities. sarah.feigenbaum@knights.ucf.edu×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Practice Management / Professional Issues & Training / Student's Say
Student's Say   |   September 01, 2015
Good for Our Clients, Good for Us
The ASHA Leader, September 2015, Vol. 20, 42-43. doi:10.1044/leader.SSAY.20092015.42
The ASHA Leader, September 2015, Vol. 20, 42-43. doi:10.1044/leader.SSAY.20092015.42
“Will I be good at this?”
Just about all communication sciences and disorders students ask themselves this question—and dozens of others—as they navigate their way through graduate school. It can be a daunting experience unlike any other—especially for speech-language pathology students. Our field encompasses a vast scope of practice, giving us many opportunities but also requiring a broad knowledge base.
With that uniqueness come many questions. Everything from “Do I have a clinic-appropriate wardrobe?” to “How will I balance classes and clinic?” The way you answer these questions can help you become a better clinician. The way you approach each question reflects your way of thinking both inside and out of the clinical environment. Over the last year I have learned how to maneuver through grad school in a way that mirrors the experiences of my future clients.
The “Will I be good at this?” question is heavily rooted in first-day jitters. Of course you will. You are in graduate school because an admissions committee thinks you will be good at it. So have a little faith in yourself!
Even so, you will struggle. People who pursue a career in speech-language pathology generally expect the best of themselves academically. When we struggle, we feel as though we are failing. The reality is that we have a broad scope of practice, so you probably aren’t going to be great in every area. We should embrace that struggle and learn from it: Our clients come to us because they are struggling. We can empathize with them as we struggle to learn the best ways to help them.

A good supervisor will scaffold assistance for you as you do for your clients. Experiencing how to receive and give help will improve your understanding of the process and increase your scaffolding ability tenfold.

  • If you are struggling, ask for help. When we work with clients to achieve their goals, they need our help to get there. Just as they decide to ask for our help with their struggle, we should look for help from our professors and supervisors. A good supervisor will scaffold assistance for you as you do for your clients. Experiencing how to receive and give help will improve your understanding of the process and increase your scaffolding ability tenfold.

When we struggle, we feel as though we are failing. The reality is that we have a broad scope of practice, so you probably aren’t going to be great in every area. We should embrace that struggle and learn from it.

  • Use all of your resources. As clinicians, we give our clients as many resources as possible: compensatory strategies, augmentative devices or a referral to other health care professionals, for example. As a student, take time to familiarize yourself with your facility’s tests, books, kits and toys. Know what resources are available to you.

  • Graduate students in communication sciences and disorders need to balance classes and clinical work, which requires organization and time management. Once you develop a system it becomes much easier. We often forget to build breaks into our schedules. Breaks don’t mean you aren’t productive during that time. Sometimes you just need a break from a specific task. We use this technique frequently with children and adults with fantastic results. You can efficiently capitalize on your break by securing a graduate assistantship, within or outside of your department. You can earn money, and also have time to process away from clinic and class. In my out-of-field position, I can use my photography hobby to create social media content for the undergraduate admissions department. This break in my schedule is just the time I need to fully process what I am learning in class and clinic.

  • It’s important to make the most of your grad school experience. Personalizing your notes in class helps you remember the concepts. The notes I write about my relevant experiences in the margins help me connect the concepts I am learning with actual practice. Personalization is key in clinical practice as well. We learn about the importance of evidence-based practice, but we find that using those practices often requires personalizing services to the client’s preferences and needs.

Navigating graduate school by using some of the same concepts I will ask my clients to use in the future is helping me to grow as a student and future speech-language pathologist.
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September 2015
Volume 20, Issue 9