How to Excel in Speech Pathology: Advice From SLP Professors

When it comes to building a career as a speech-language pathologist, everyone’s experience is unique. This is true at the individual level, as well as when it comes to SLPs working in different settings. However, some advice applies across the gamut, and much of what this week’s podcast guests had to offer falls into that category. 

Tim Stockdale and Wendy Chase have gone on their own SLP journeys since starting their careers, but they’ve also helped numerous graduate students forge their paths. Doing so has given them insight into the best practices SLPs can adopt to excel in the field at any stage of their career.

Be the Change

One of the biggest takeaways from this week’s episode was to push for the change you’d like to see in the speech field. This can prove a difficult task for newer SLPs, especially ones who are beholden to the rules and norms of the facilities they’re working in. Even so, advocating for yourself and your clients when possible can make a huge difference. 

Part of being the change you’d like to see also involves coming up with solutions to known treatment problems. The obstacles you’ll need to address will vary depending on your area of expertise, but taking a solutions-focused approach will help you become the kind of changemaker the field needs.

Remain a Lifelong Learner

During this week’s episode, Tim and Wendy echoed a sentiment many other SLPs have expressed on The Missing Link: that the field requires professionals to become lifelong learners. Staying up to date with research will help clinicians better serve their clients, no matter where they are in their careers.

Reading research and literature about speech pathology and the population you specialize in is critical to providing the best treatment possible. If you’re pressed for time, Tim and Wendy also recommended talking to your peers about what they’ve learned recently. Learning through collaboration can prove a valuable skill.

Don’t Fake It

In line with remaining a lifelong learner, Tim recommends knowing your own shortcomings. After receiving a graduate degree, new SLPs may be tempted to adopt a “fake it until you make it” mentality. However, that could end up harming your clients, as well as your professional growth. 

The better approach for new SLPs to take is to admit that they don’t know everything and seek out guidance and help. The truth is, no SLP can know everything, and those brand new to the field wouldn’t have the expertise or experience to handle certain challenges.

Have Fun With It

Finding a way to embrace joy and have fun in your career is optimal — not just for your own health and happiness, but also for the overall well-being of your peers and clients. When it’s clear that you’re passionate about what you do, that energy can become infectious. It will create a more positive, upbeat environment for everyone around you, and that’s the ideal setting for successful treatment.

Want to learn more about Tim and Wendy and their journey to becoming SLPs and professors? Listen to them 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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July 6, 2021

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