Doing the Right Thing After School Thinking of taking on private clients outside of school? Follow these steps to start an ethical and legal practice. School Matters
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School Matters  |   July 01, 2016
Doing the Right Thing After School
Author Notes
  • Stacey Ellison Glasgow, MA, CCC-SLP, is ASHA associate director of school services in speech-language pathology. sglasgow@asha.org
    Stacey Ellison Glasgow, MA, CCC-SLP, is ASHA associate director of school services in speech-language pathology. sglasgow@asha.org×
  • Heather Bupp, Esq., is ASHA director of ethics. hbupp@asha.org
    Heather Bupp, Esq., is ASHA director of ethics. hbupp@asha.org×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / School Matters
School Matters   |   July 01, 2016
Doing the Right Thing After School
The ASHA Leader, July 2016, Vol. 21, 32-33. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.21072016.32
The ASHA Leader, July 2016, Vol. 21, 32-33. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.21072016.32
So you’re considering treating private clients outside of school and you want to do it ethically. Perhaps you want to diversify your skills, make extra income or just try something new. You highly value your work in a school setting for many reasons, including the time and flexibility it offers. So how should you go about adding private clients and covering all of your bases?
You first need to make sure you’re appropriately licensed in your state. ASHA’s state-by-state resource provides specific state licensure and regulations as well as who to contact with questions. Also, find out if your city or county requires you to obtain an occupational license to operate a business. After you research these basics, the rest of these steps will help you set up private sessions or contract jobs according to ethical and legal guidelines.
Inform potential clients. If the clients you intend to serve privately overlap with your current school students—for example, if they live in the same district—you should first inform them about available school services. In addition, explain what your private services entail along with costs. It’s also important to give potential clients a list of other providers in the area. This gives them all possible options for treatment and the freedom to choose their best option or options. In the ASHA Code of Ethics, Principle III, Rule B states: Individuals shall avoid engaging in conflicts of interest whereby personal, financial or other considerations have the potential to influence or compromise professional judgment and objectivity.

If the clients you intend to serve privately overlap with your current school students, you should first inform them about available school services.

Inform your school. After you give clients details about all treatment options, next inform your school administrator about your intent to offer private services. Keep a paper trail of this process, so follow a face-to-face meeting with an email or letter to summarize the discussion and consent. Also consult your school district and review your contract regarding possible restrictions. If you haven’t signed a contract yet, this is the time to negotiate a waiver covering any conflict of interest between your possible private practice and your school district.
Choose clients. Now you can focus on what type of clients you wish to serve. If possible, avoid overlapping with students in your school district to keep your two work situations completely separate. Maintain the spirit of Principle I: Individuals shall honor their responsibility to hold paramount the welfare of persons they serve professionally. Drawing private clients from your primary employment setting might create a conflict of interest that prevents you from keeping your clients’ best interests paramount. ASHA’s “Issues in Ethics: Obtaining Clients for Private Practice From Primary Place of Employment,” provides further clarification on this matter. In addition, most state licensing boards offer their own code of ethics or conduct to help professionals do business with integrity.

If you haven’t signed a contract yet, this is the time to negotiate a waiver covering any conflict of interest between your possible private practice and your school district.

Timing. Next, consider how long you plan to operate your private practice. If you decide on a temporary or seasonal situation, you need to develop an interim and/or referral plan for your clients. You can find guidance in “Issues in Ethics: Client Abandonment”. And keep in mind Principle I, Rule T: Individuals shall provide reasonable notice and information about alternatives for obtaining care in the event that they can no longer provide professional services.
Maintain confidentiality. Finally, it’s essential to maintain appropriate privacy and confidentiality for all clients—both in the school setting and in private practice. Details are spelled out in Principle I, Rule O: Individuals shall protect the confidentiality and security of records of professional services provided. Access to these records shall be allowed only when doing so is necessary to protect the welfare of the person or of the community, is legally authorized or is otherwise required by law. In addition, Principle I, Rule P, states: Individuals shall protect the confidentiality of any professional or personal information about persons served professionally …and may disclose confidential information only when doing so is necessary to protect the welfare of the person or of the community, is legally authorized or is otherwise required by law.
As you work through the ethical and legal process of serving clients privately or working part time for a secondary employer, you might want to peruse ASHA’s frequently asked questions about business practices and the document on developing a business plan.
When you’re ready to go, you can list your information in ASHA’s ProFind. This online directory of ASHA members allows consumers to search for an audiologist or speech-language pathologist in their area. You can use it to list your areas of specialty, what type of services you provide, and contact information.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
July 2016
Volume 21, Issue 7