Transitioning to a Clinical Fellowship A recent graduate offers advice on encountering what your courses didn’t teach. Student's Say
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Student's Say  |   July 01, 2017
Transitioning to a Clinical Fellowship
Author Notes
  • Garrett Nathan, MS, CF-SLP, is the pediatric clinic director for Fyzical Therapy and Balance Centers in Omaha, Nebraska. He served as 2015–2017 vice president for government affairs of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. gnathan523@gmail.com
    Garrett Nathan, MS, CF-SLP, is the pediatric clinic director for Fyzical Therapy and Balance Centers in Omaha, Nebraska. He served as 2015–2017 vice president for government affairs of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. gnathan523@gmail.com×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / Student's Say
Student's Say   |   July 01, 2017
Transitioning to a Clinical Fellowship
The ASHA Leader, July 2017, Vol. 22, 46-47. doi:10.1044/leader.SSAY.22072017.46
The ASHA Leader, July 2017, Vol. 22, 46-47. doi:10.1044/leader.SSAY.22072017.46
Finally, you made it! You survived a variety of obstacles over the past six years: graduate school applications, the GRE, possibly a new school, rigorous courses, clinical experiences, comprehensive exams, and the dreaded Praxis exam. Are you ready to begin your clinical fellowship?
You probably have a fellowship all lined up, given that the national employment rate for speech-language pathologists is expected to grow much faster than average through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Depending on your program (some grad schools have separate educational and medical tracks), flexibility and the availability of an ASHA-certified supervisor, you can find job openings in schools, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health services, early intervention, rehabilitation facilities—there are many possibilities.
Will your first job be your dream job? Possibly, but maybe not. But remember, this is your first job—an opportunity for you to further develop your skills and begin your journey as a certified SLP.
Are you ready to join the rest of the adult working world and put in your 40 hours a week? To start treating patients independently, without someone observing every clinical session? Welcome to the start of your clinical fellowship experience. For many of us, it can it be intimidating.

If your clinical fellowship feels a little overwhelming in the first couple of months, remember: You know more than you think you do.

Prepare for the unpredictable
Transitioning from the classroom to the workplace may be a bit of a reality check. Your new job may not be as highly structured as your school years have been. Patients may reschedule last-minute, a parent might call you right before an evaluation, or you might need to stay late because of an IEP meeting.
You no longer have homework or exams, but now you are tested daily with each client you see, problem-solving your way through evaluations and treatment sessions to determine the best course of treatment. Instead of group projects, you are now interacting and reasoning with parents, teachers, office staff, and physical and occupational therapists to find a solution to an issue that may arise.
If your clinical fellowship feels a little overwhelming in the first couple of months, remember: You know more than you think you do. Trust your clinical judgment and don’t be afraid to try new treatment strategies. When you have questions—and you will!—consult your clinical fellowship supervisor and get answers. Always rely on the multiple resources you have available at your fingertips: in addition to your supervisor, other resources include colleagues, your graduate school professors and classmates, and ASHA’s Practice Portal. Be confident in your treatment sessions, and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.
You will most likely wear many hats that you may not have anticipated wearing, such as counselor, advocate, recess monitor and professional board game player. Keep an open mind and remain flexible, and you’ll be a valued team player in your new workplace.
Got treatment game?
Finally, remember to keep your job fun! You want to enjoy the 40 hours a week you are working. More important, if you enjoy your job as a clinician, imagine how much your patients or clients will enjoy speech-language treatment. Turn articulation drills into fun board games or think outside of the box to come up with interesting strategies with your patients. For creative and fun ideas, check practicing SLPs’ blogs (highlighted in the Leader’s “Blogjam” column and on the Leader blog), which provide helpful tips, interesting stories, treatment strategies and even free printable materials to try in your own treatment sessions.
It’s a good idea to remember that your journey as a clinician is only beginning. You may not know every answer—that’s OK, as long as you know where to find them. Take advantage of every available educational opportunity to learn and expand your treatment toolbox. It will greatly benefit you, and more important, your patients.
Your clinical fellowship will fly by, and you’ll be ready to submit the required paperwork to ASHA to receive your certificate of clinical competence. You made it! Congratulations! Are you ready to be the change you wish to see?
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FROM THIS ISSUE
July 2017
Volume 22, Issue 7