When you’re learning and growing in your career, it can be tempting to take on as many clients as possible. Speech-language pathologists tend to become more specialized as they move further along in their profession. However, sometimes they see patients who require expertise outside of their own. That’s why Lauren Fay, our most recent guest on The Missing Link for SLPs podcast, emphasized the importance of embracing referrals.

You Can’t Be an Expert at Everything

Most graduate programs don’t delve too heavily into dysphagia and FEES, so becoming

Although graduate programs in speech cover a range of topics and disorders, it takes additional training and experience to master each niche. Acknowledging that is important when practicing, as is being aware of your own shortcomings. While one SLP may specialize in voice, they may not have the knowledge or ability to treat dysphagia patients. The reverse can be true as well, with more generalized medical SLPs not always having the background necessary to tackle voice therapy. 

If you do wind up seeing a patient whose needs extend beyond your own area of expertise, there’s no reason to fret. Referring that person to a specialist can prove the best solution for their needs.

The Patient’s Needs Come First

SLPs know that the patient’s needs always come first, so making sure they’re getting the best care possible is a priority. If that means sending them to a clinician more adept in the type of treatment they require, so be it. 

It’s no secret that patients who are bounced around from doctor to doctor could become disillusioned with the treatment process by the time they find the right care. That’s an outcome SLPs should want to avoid — even if it means sending business elsewhere. Patients losing their positive, hopeful outlook impacts the effectiveness of their treatment, creating an environment that doesn’t facilitate success.

Collaboration Is Key

Clinicians who refer patients to other SLPs shouldn’t view it as a lost opportunity. While referrals primarily address patients’ specific needs, they can also prove an opportunity for collaboration. Learning to communicate and plan treatment with other SLPs is an important part of growing in your career. It can also help you build invaluable connections, with specialists potentially referring patients back to you somewhere down the line. 

With referrals furthering patient development and SLP growth, they’re a win-win situation — assuming clinicians choose to look at them that way. Such experiences may also inspire SLPs to seek out the knowledge they’re missing, eventually rendering them capable of going beyond their typical scope.

Want to learn more about Lauren 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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