Considering Ethical Standards as a New SLP

Strong ethics are an important aspect of any position, but they’re especially key to working in fields tasked with helping other individuals. Speech-language pathologists are one of the professions that must adhere to a vigorous ethical standard, and that’s something SLPs should strive for in their treatment efforts. Unfortunately, even the best clinicians may find themselves faced with moral dilemmas in the workplace. 

During the latest episode of The Missing Link, Katie Brown of Neuro Speech Solutions addressed this issue, emphasizing the importance of remaining vigilant about ethics in your day-to-day work. She offered insight into how SLPs can determine if a facility is up to par when it comes to treatment standards, as well as suggestions on what to do when faced with a difficult decision on the job.  

While there’s no definitive way to avoid running into these obstacles as an SLP, there are ways to minimize the likelihood you’ll be stuck in a sticky situation. It all starts during the job hunt.

Consider Ethics During Your Job Search

In the current job market, it can be tempting to take just about any offer that comes your way — especially if it comes with a decent salary or benefits. However, part of forging an ethical career path is evaluating how prospective places of employment handle client care. During the job search, you’ll want to ask the right questions to determine if their treatment matches the standard you’d expect. If you notice any red flags at this point, it might behoove you to wait for a better opportunity. 

Some questions that may shed light on a company’s practices cover what kinds of equipment you’ll have access to, how accessible your mentor or manager will be, and what productivity requirements look like. Researching what you can ask to gauge an organization’s values — and what warning signs to look for during the interview process — can prove a lifesaver early in your career.

Facing Problems on the Clock

Unfortunately, not every SLP will avoid challenges to their own ethical standards, even if they are vigilant during the interview process. Many experienced SLPs have stories to tell about times they’ve had to confront their managers or step away from uncomfortable situations. In those instances, there are a few steps one can take in an attempt to improve the situation.

Consulting with mentors: Handling ethics concerns as a newer SLP can be particularly challenging, since management could use a lack of experience to disregard what you have to say. It’s also difficult to find the confidence necessary to approach leaders in the first place, especially when you’re still learning and feel uncertain in your role. This is where consulting with mentors, who will give you an experienced and objective perspective on the situation, can prove incredibly useful.

Being honest with supervisors: Not every supervisor will agree with your perspective, but it’s worth starting an honest conversation about the issue that’s upsetting you. It’s possible the team will consider your argument and come to a compromise that everyone feels comfortable with. 
Standing your ground: In situations where management isn’t listening to your concerns, you can still assert yourself and stand your ground. Whether that means leaving the environment altogether or simply making note of your disagreement and moving on will depend on your specific circumstances.

It Takes Bravery

Whether you’re a brand-new SLP or someone with more experience in the field, speaking up about a situation you don’t agree with is no easy task. It takes a great deal of bravery to push back against the “norm,” especially in a professional setting. However, it helps to know that other SLPs have been in similar spots and managed to move past it. That’s why Katie and others share their stories and encourage new clinicians to look after their careers — and it’s the reason all SLPs should remain committed to providing the standard of care that their patients deserve.

Want to learn more about Katie and her journey to becoming an SLP? Listen to her and Mattie chat on The Missing Link for SLPs Podcast.

Did you know Mattie provides coaching to SLPs? Learn more here.

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