Stop Cracking Your Knuckles! A new SLP recognizes—and appreciates—the wisdom of her older patients. First Person/Last Page
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First Person/Last Page  |   September 01, 2017
Stop Cracking Your Knuckles!
Author Notes
  • Laura Ford, MA, CCC-SLP, completed her clinical fellowship and is working at Genesis Medical Center in Davenport, Iowa, after receiving her master’s degree at Louisiana State University. lauraford225@gmail.com
    Laura Ford, MA, CCC-SLP, completed her clinical fellowship and is working at Genesis Medical Center in Davenport, Iowa, after receiving her master’s degree at Louisiana State University. lauraford225@gmail.com×
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / First Person/Last Page
First Person/Last Page   |   September 01, 2017
Stop Cracking Your Knuckles!
The ASHA Leader, September 2017, Vol. 22, 72. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.22092017.72
The ASHA Leader, September 2017, Vol. 22, 72. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.22092017.72
When I’m 82, I’m sure I’ll laugh at the 20-something with tongue depressors in one hand, clipboard in the other, and an “I can take on the world” attitude who is helping me practice setting up my pill organizer by sorting various beans in a pillbox. Because in my speech-language pathology graduate school clinical experience, I was the 20-something who felt the same way. There I was, nowhere near the motherhood stage of my life, helping a mom who was having breastfeeding difficulties. How could this woman possibly accept me as an expert?
During my clinical fellowship, instead of avoiding the age difference between my patients and me, I started to appreciate it. Sometimes I’ll ask patients what their life was like at 25. I’ll see their eyes light up as they talk about things like getting married or buying their first house. I’m 25, and those are things that I’m now dreaming about. With this prompt, I receive not only a spontaneous speech sample, but also some wisdom and a personal connection. Hearing these stories allows me to see the patient as more than “the 85-year-old with diagnosis X”—I can view the patient as the 18-year-old soldier and the man with 40 years’ experience in financial advising.
When patients find out this is my first year working, I never get, “Please send another therapist, one with much more experience,” but always a “How do you like it?” or a “my first job” story, or, “How much school did you have to go through?”
The patients I help don’t care about my age because it’s not a big deal to them. You know what is a big deal? Being in a hospital! It’s a big deal when you’re a mother whose newborn won’t latch, or a grandfather who went from independent living to suddenly being unable to find the words to tell his nurse that he needs to use the restroom. I’m helping them. I’m listening to them. I’m coaching them with strategies to help them maintain their independence. I may be young, but I have the research in our field fresh in my brain, and the enthusiasm to use it.
Part of being a successful new speech-language pathologist is having the confidence of knowing what you know, knowing when to ask for help and knowing there will always be more to learn.
So when my patients tell me to start wearing shoes with better arches, and to stop cracking my knuckles, I listen. Because my patients can teach me, too.
1 Comment
September 28, 2017
A. Lynn Williams
Wise Beyond Her Young Years
I loved reading this story about Laura's respect, enthusiasm, and joy in her work as a speech-language pathologist! She is certainly wise beyond her years!!
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September 2017
Volume 22, Issue 9