6 Must-Have Skills SLPs Need for Surviving COVID 19
How to SLP: SLP Skills
6 Must-Have Skills SLPs Need for Surviving COVID 19

Welcome to Episode Seven, where we talk about the six must have skills that slps need for surviving COVID-19. So in this episode, we’re going to be talking about more resilience techniques, strategies, mindsets outlooks.

—> Download this episode’s “study guide” and show notes <—

Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover from difficulties. When I first started the missing link, it was meant to be a podcast for graduate students for fresh slps for those getting back into the field, who wanted to make those connections between what they had learned in graduate school, and how to actually apply it. I think I had gotten three episodes in and bundled in in set for launching when COVID 19 hit. So I’ve had to reformat and re plan all of my podcast episodes, because everybody’s had to shift their skillset.  Everybody’s had to shift their skill set.

And so today’s episode, and episode eight is going to be talking about the skills that we need to have.  New skills, not the hard clinical skills and  these are the soft skills that will help us be resilient through COVID-19. And help us keep moving forward with our careers in the field of speech pathology.

There’s so many unknowns out there, but the one thing I do know is that the field of speech pathology is not going to go away, people are still going to need us, we are still going to have a passion for what we do. And that’s why I’m changing the kind of the focus of these missing links for the next.

So launching into today’s topic, I will be talking about six of the must have skills that slps need for surviving:  mindset and soft set skills.

There’s a book out there I read it quite a few years ago, called Who Moved My Cheese and it’s, it’s an inspirational book. This book is about a study where they set two mice up in a maze. And the mice learn their way through the maze to find their cheese, and the cheese was their reward and it was what kept them going and nourish them.

Once the mice learned the maze, one of the mice had an operation and the researchers took out the portion of this little guys  brain that allows him to learn new things.  Both mice are then put back into the maze, but the maze has now been rearranged.   The mice had to learn new ways to get to the cheese.

Well, as you can predict the mouse that learned the new pathways, learn to use all of his senses to climb, see smell, find the new cheese did indeed survive and go on thrive because he was he was able to feed himself.  The mouse who had a portion of his brain removed and he could not develop the neural plasticity. He could not find his way through the new maze and because he couldn’t find his way, this mouse dies from hunger.  As like most of you, I have such a soft heart I don’t like to think of mice even dying, but to think of a mouse, trying to find his way through a maze, to survive and then becoming weaker

and weaker – it just kind of breaks my heart. We are like the mice – we need to know how to survive and find our way through our new maze – our new pathways

I know there are people out there going through COVID-19 as speech pathologists, and they’re just not sure how they’re going to move forward in their careers, because everything has shifted so much. So the next two episodes I am dedicating the time to the skills outside of the hard skill set that we learned in grad school in applying or settings, but the soft skills that speech pathologists need to have for surviving COVID-19.

Today, we are discussing six of the skills slps need: 

  1. Developing perspective
  2. Positive psychology
  3. Self reliance
  4. Resourcefulness
  5. Perseverance
  6. Adaptability.

Developing perspective

Why is that important? Developing perspective is an important skill to develop because life is hard sometimes. and resilience is a muscle to be developed. Resilience is a choice. And if you can understand and see the big picture, see down the road, it will help you be resilient. So take a step back, zoom out, you know, when you look up a place on your Google Map and you can get deep in and see the details, and it’s fun to zoom back out.

Through COVID-19. I want you to practice zooming back out on your life and seeing the big picture because we are going to get through this as a society and as a profession, as people, as families as cohorts.

One of the things that will be helpful in developing your perspective is to understand where your strengths are and where your growing edges are. There is a website www.viacharcter.org. Go find it and do your own character assessment which takes about 10 minutes.  And it’s a wonderful website. It takes about 10-12 minutes and you answer a series of questions and then wait a couple of minutes for your score. You have to give them your email but other than that, it’s free. And you learn about yourself.  It rates your top 24 character traits.

Following my husband’s death, my life was shattered. And so I had to pick myself up and figure out how I was going to get through everything. I’d lost sight of myself and what I stood for. This was one of the things that I did and I took the test and it reminded me again.  It reinforced where my strengths were.  I also looked at the back end of the ratings where my weaknesses or what I’d like to call my “growing edges” were.  

So, learn to understand the big picture and develop your perspective of who you are and where you’re going and start setting some goals.  And I know this all seems like a big thing for developing perspective.

When my kids were little we used to read Where’s Waldo books, and my little kids would crawl on my lap and they’d have this big book Where’s Waldo and we’d look for Waldo.   And oftentimes, Waldo was right literally under their thumb.  Literally – not in the middle of the page as we often would first start looking.   The Where’s Waldo designers must have must have done some research because  it was right where you weren’t looking, which is right by your thumb.  But looking back, developing that big perspective is so important for resilience and a skill that we need to develop moving forward.

Positive Psychology

Now another skill that we definitely have to focus on is positive psychology. Neuroplasticity is the understanding that our brain is not a static organ. It’s a dynamic organ,and we can rewire the way our brain think.  The positive thoughts that we think get reinforced, and so it’s important to change the negative thoughts. 

Go on YouTube and do a search for the Legend Development Center.  It is a very successful center in Spokane, Washington and they have a wonderful YouTube video regarding neuroplasticity and the power of positive thoughts, being mindful of your negatives and catch those negatives.

 Instead of worrying about what you can’t control, shift your energy to what you can control and what you can create. Train your mind to see the good and everything because positivity is a choice. The happiness in your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.

Self Reliance

Number three, self reliance. When I was a little kid, I, I guess I was one of those buckaroos that, when the rest of the world went right, I would go left.  My favorite thing to do on playgrounds nas a kid? I would get a running start and I would run/climb UP the slide. I loved the challenge.  Just my feet, you know, would keep sliding out from under me, but I would grab the sides and climb right up that slide.

And that’s kind of what self reliance is. It’s learning how to climb up that slide even though your feet are slipping but you grab on and do whatever you need to get to the top. It’s when you have a question: don’t ask others right away, but try to find the answers yourself. You can do this and when you become more self reliant, you become more confident in your own skills. Because you realize you can do this and you’ve shown it to yourself. So seek out those opportunities for self reliance.

Resourcefulness When I was little, I used to love to make paper airplanes and I would be very exact with the folding. And I would fold it a certain way and it would sometimes all wonky and other times I would throw one

and it would go straight and just glide beautifully and land. One time corkscrew through the air and another time gliding just right. 

Resourcefulness is learning how to make those folds and make the airplane do what I wanted it to do. It’s figuring things out and finding my resources and and trying again and coming up with a way of doing things and my goodness, are we ever being resourceful with all of our resources here during COVID-19?


Number five, perseverance is another skill we have to develop for perseverance is the ability to stick with a task until we get it to the point where we want it to be. There is a quote that says:  “Everything will be okay in the end, and if it’s not, okay, it’s not the end.”   So this can be true with teletherapy or any other skill you are learning.

It’s so hard in the beginning, learning an initial skill, but don’t give up because the beginning is often when it’s the hardest. I know stepping out of the clinical setting and into the academic setting was hard! I had to learn a ton of new skills, most of them with technology and Thank You to my very first voice class, you students know who you are.  You were so patient as I learned D2L!!

I kept saying, “Just remember me when you step into your clinical fellowship!”  because they saw the struggles I was having. They also saw the positive mindset that I had, and that’s so important, but persevering, and sticking through with the tasks to the end is how you get that perseverance.

I was talking to my graduate students the other day, and we’re working on Simucase, and they’re like, “Oh, man, this is so hard”. We had done a client named Audrey, and she was a video swallow study and the imaging was not optimal. It was really hard to see some of the soft tissue landmarks. I encouraged my students to stick with the case study and persevere to the end.  That is needed and earned them their 2 hours towards their certification.


Number six, adaptability. Have you ever put on a swimsuit at a hotel and you’re ready to go swimming, anticipating a great swim. You step into the water and it’s just like shockingly cold. And you’re like, “eee”.   You start walking in slowly. But then once you get in and you’re swimming around, you realize it’s not so bad and you’re actually having a lot of fun and now the water seems actually warmer. And what has happened is the water actually hasn’t gotten warmer, you have gotten used to it and you’ve adapted. That is what we have got to do during this COVID-19 time. A lot of speech pathologists are being furloughed or reduced hours and they’re picking up shifts elsewhere. I know two of my colleagues at

one of the clinics I worked at are taking duties at the door at the front door screening patients coming into the hospital.

Adaptability is the ability to adjust. It’s that mouse who was able to find the new routes through the maze and find our new route as well.  We have got to be adaptable because the world doesn’t revolve around us. We’ve got to revolve and be in the world and adapt.

So those are six of the must have skills SLPs need for surviving this COVID-19. This and hopefully the only COVID-19 we ever have to deal with.

We have to develop a perspective and see the big picture. We need to develop the habit of positive psychology. We need to understand self reliance and search deep within ourselves and search for the resourcefulness that we’ve may not have had to call on before but we’ve got it in there. We’ve got to stick through it with perseverance to the very end. And we have to learn to adapt.

Quote of the Week

Your quote of the week:  “The future belongs to the curious, the ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it and turn it inside out.”

Tip for Success

Catch one negative thought today and turn it around with a positive. So instead of saying, “I can’t do that.”, change the phrase to,  “What if I…”, and then complete that phrase.   It’s a curiosity question, which, interestingly enough, is a positive trait. Curiously enough, that’s also something we’re going to talk about in our next episode 😉

Upcoming Episodes

Episode 8 is Six More Surprising Skills That You May Not Have Considered that a speech pathologist will need in these coming times.

Episode 9 is The Seven Secret Linings of COVID 19.

Episode 10 is The Surprising Opportunity We Call Teletherapy.

So I have great plans in store!  Keep tuning in, and remember, BE THE MOUSE that goes after the cheese and finds its way through the new maze, learning as she goes.

I hope today’s conversation has created some aha moments for you and motivated you to become a better SLP, continuing to connect some of those missing links between what you know and how to use that knowledge.

Thank you for listening to ​The Missing Link for SLPs​ podcast!​ If you enjoyed the show, I’d love you to subscribe, rate it and leave a short review.​ Also, please share an episode with a friend. Together we can raise awareness and help more SLPs find and connect those missing links to help them feel confident in their patient care every step of the way.

Follow me on​ ​Instagram​,​ join the Fresh SLP community on ​Facebook​ ​or learn more atFreshSLP.com.​ ​ Let’s make those connections. You got this! ​Do you have a question you’d like answered on the show? Send a picture of a Post It note or message to Mattie@FreshSLP.com!

Copyright ⓒ 2020 Fresh SLP. All rights reserved. | Mattie Murrey, MA, CCC/SLP | freshSLP.com Not a substitute for a formal SLP education or medical advice for patients/caregivers knowledge

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Hosted by Mattie Murrey

May 6, 2020

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