Staying Motivated and Challenged in Our Various Work Settings Our professions offer a wealth of varied niches and growth opportunities to keep us engaged. From the President
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From the President  |   June 01, 2017
Staying Motivated and Challenged in Our Various Work Settings
Author Notes
  • Gail J. Richard, PhD, CCC-SLP, is former department chair, professor emeritus and director of The Autism Center at Eastern Illinois University. gjrichard@eiu.edu
    Gail J. Richard, PhD, CCC-SLP, is former department chair, professor emeritus and director of The Autism Center at Eastern Illinois University. gjrichard@eiu.edu×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / From the President
From the President   |   June 01, 2017
Staying Motivated and Challenged in Our Various Work Settings
The ASHA Leader, June 2017, Vol. 22, 6-7. doi:10.1044/leader.FTP.22062017.6
The ASHA Leader, June 2017, Vol. 22, 6-7. doi:10.1044/leader.FTP.22062017.6
Many years ago as a student clinician in speech-language pathology, I discovered through experience that I enjoy working with children with developmental disorders. Although I found my clinical experience with adult medical disorders stimulating, I was not emotionally able to cope with the neurological decline that often occurs in geriatric patients.
I wanted to know that the speech-language skills I was addressing would be maintained and would build a foundation to scaffold additional skills. Conversely, several of my peers were gifted in providing rehabilitative services to adults who had lost abilities due to injury or trauma. Through exposure to clinical experiences with a variety of ages, disorders and employment settings, we were able to find the niche that was comfortable for each of us.
Years later as a university professor, I often heard students debating the advantages and disadvantages of working in a medical versus educational setting. In fact, in many speech-language pathology master’s degree programs, students had to choose a track—educational or medical—because it dictated course sequencing. In other graduate programs, both an educational and medical internship were required to ensure a student’s exposure to a variety of communication disorders and clients of different ages.
Students were usually grateful for the experience in both types of settings, as it helped them determine an employment setting to pursue after graduation. Others became conflicted, liking both settings and being unsure where they wanted to stake their practice claim.
A chance to choose
One of the advantages to working in the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology is the diversity of opportunities. I used to tell students that if they were bored in their career, it was their own fault. Our professions offer the opportunity to work with any age, in multiple employment settings, with a host of communication disorders, and in different aspects of the discipline (for example, teaching, research and clinical practice). At the same time, our professions are intense and require a great deal of personal investment to be effective. Staying current and competent is an ongoing challenge!
One reason we chose “Focus on the Big Picture” as the theme of this year’s ASHA Convention in Los Angeles is the importance of taking care of yourself. You can’t be effective as a teacher, researcher, diagnostician or clinician without taking time to define your personal goals and mission. What values define you? What activities energize and reinforce who you are as a person?
Shortages in speech-language pathology opened possibilities for graduates to practice in medical and educational settings. Professionals could work in a school setting, but add part-time work during the weekend, evenings or summers in a medical setting—or vice versa. This allowed them to stay current and practice in both settings.
Audiology also continues to serve a vital role in educational and medical settings. I was privileged to work with several excellent audiologists when I worked as a speech-language pathologist in the schools. Advances in technology have resulted in greater accuracy in early identification of hearing impairments, and have extended candidacy eligibility for cochlear implantation. As a result, audiology has broadened its diagnostic and rehabilitative scope in both the educational and medical settings.
As our professions have evolved, the line between practice settings has blurred. Medically fragile children were enrolled in schools, requiring knowledge of medical procedures and safeguards. School services became eligible for Medicaid reimbursement, requiring knowledge of coding and reimbursement guidelines. Practitioners found that they needed a foot in both worlds to practice effectively. The worksite issues became less differentiated.

What values define you? What activities energize and reinforce who you are as a person?

ASHA’s offerings
In the past, ASHA hosted a health care conference for SLPs in the spring and a conference for school-based SLPs in the summer. As more professionals engaged in clinical practice in both settings, cost and time constraints meant they had to choose one or the other conference. ASHA Connect is now three simultaneous, co-located conferences—Schools Connect, Health Care Connect and Private Practice Connect—held at the same facility in July to allow professionals to attend a combination of sessions. Other options for continuing education include ASHA’s “Audiology 2017: Service Delivery for Older Adults” online conference.
This issue of the ASHA Leader focuses on staying motivated and avoiding burnout. I encourage you to consider attending the Connect conference or the November ASHA Convention. Participating in continuing education is often professionally stimulating and reinforcing. A conference provides an opportunity for networking with colleagues and friends, and includes social and educational activities. Make sure you aren’t just going through the motions in your job. It should be a vocation: a career that challenges, stimulates and rewards you!
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FROM THIS ISSUE
June 2017
Volume 22, Issue 6