For the past 8 weeks I’ve had the pleasure of having an SLP student. As I’m sure any SLP would look at having a student, I saw “14 WEEKS OF NO PAPERWORK”. All joking aside, I was excited to have a student. I see too many SLPs in the area that just don’t do what they should be doing. Most are just in it for the paycheck, literally. I was excited for the opportunity to be able to teach someone all the medical aspects of therapy, and to teach a patient to be a little more independent in their learning.
I feel that there are issues that should be addressed with students, to learn how to become an independent, well-rounded SLP.
First, encourage your student to become independent in their thinking and their research. Yes, the supervisor is there to teach and ensure that the student is learning, however the student may be leaving you to a more secluded area, with limited access to a seasoned SLP. It is important that the student know they can look in this place or that for further information on a topic.
Teach your student the importance of continuing education. When I first graduated, I was so ready to be done with learning, that I had no interest in continuing education. Little did I know all the things that I DON’T know about speech. I have taken a big interest in continuing education. I enjoy learning, I especially enjoy learning new therapeutic techniques that I can use in therapy. I feel that if you show students how enjoyable continuing education can be and teach them to develop skills to choose appropriate continuing education courses, they will have a lifelong, enjoyable (hopefully) learning experience.
Don’t always give your student the answer. It’s so much easier to tell someone what to write, how to write it or what goals to write, however your student is merely learning how to type/write to dictation. They may pick up a few things here and there, however they may lack those creative skills often needed to write appropriate goals. Question your student through the process. Make them use creative thinking and to utilize what they’ve learned in school. If your student is learning how to complete MBSS, question them continuously and ask them the same question over and over until they are answering the questions in their sleep. What is the cause of the vallecular residue. What should we work on based on the MBSS results? When did the aspiration occur and what was the cause?
Give your student a project that will be functional for them. Sure, writing a research paper on cleft palate may be informative, but are they really going to use all that information? Maybe if they work in a certain area. I know personally, I’ve worked with 2 kids that had repaired clefts. Why not have your student put together a binder of information they can use. Worksheets, assessments, sample goals. Something that they will use during their externship and possibly when they graduate.
Think about all those things you never learned as a student or in school and give your student a better start than you may have had. Remember, you may be a first look for this young mind at the profession they have studied for so many years. Teach them that SLPs can be creative while still using evidence-based techniques, that information can be at their fingertips with an internet connection and a computer. Also, teach them that we are out there to make a difference in this world, that it’s not “just about the paycheck.” Be proud of the student that passes through your program and know that you gave them the best start possible.