Guest Blog Post by Rachel Wynn, MS CCC-SLP
It has been about three years since I completed graduate school. As a student, I learned a lot in graduate school and during my leveling courses; however, I have learned far more in the three years following graduation. There isn’t space in this blog post to explain everything I’ve learned. So today, I’m going to share the three things I learned that made the biggest impact on how I deliver care in general.
1. People should come before profits. I remember the ethics lectures in graduate school. It seemed so common sense to me. I figured these ethical dilemmas would happen occasionally. I’ve got a good head on my shoulders and a strong desire to advocate for social justice. Of course, people come before profits.
Not all companies and facilities consistently act on the belief people come before profits. It’s a frequent complaint in the community of therapists working in healthcare that productivity expectations seem to be more important than patient outcomes.
I highly recommend joining some of the Facebook forums (Adult Rehab Speech Therapy and Slpeeps) and reading some of the discussions about ethics. Just search for “ethics” or “productivity” within the forum. Having this awareness going into your interviews and first positions will be very helpful.
Learn more: ASHA’s Employer Demands in Healthcare and Good Work Conditions for Therapists
2. You have to meet people with dementia where they are. Dementia is a progressive disease. Whether or not people and their families have insight into deficits or are living in denial, we have to meet them where they are. We meet them in their confusion and delusions.
Meeting people with dementia where they are sometimes involves lying, and that’s okay. I frequently talk to family members about lying versus rationalizing. Many people want to always tell the truth and rationalize with family members. When people say they want to go home, families may try to rationalize that they are home. They live here now, etc.
This is the wrong approach. A better approach is to validate the person’s concern then distract. “Let’s eat dinner before you go home.” Validation can be calming. We all want to heard. Then distraction can set in. The key is to communicate in a way that resolves the problems and concerns that people with dementia feel they are experiencing.
I had a patient that told me she had no time for my therapy tasks. She had too many things to do. She felt she needed to be productive. She was agitated by continued attempts, so I set up a calendar system with her and her personal caregiver and put speech therapy on her calendar.
The next day I arrived at my scheduled appointment and had specific tasks for us to do that weren’t standard therapy. She followed directions and completed problem solving in making holiday cards. Then we worked on walking safely with her walker when we delivered the cards. It worked wonderfully. I heard her, validated her concerns, and met her where she was.
Learn more: Eden Alternative Equals Better Care for Elders and An Amazing Village Designed Just for People With Dementia
3. People die. Death is the ultimate rite of passage. Many people fear death. People and their families need someone to tell them they have choices. SLPs have an expertise in dysphagia that can help families make choices. Death isn’t a prescribed process. Respecting patient and family wishes at end of life is the best thing we can go to help them experience a good death.
I’ve worked with people who are at end of life and their bodies and mind are beginning to shut down. Some families want to fight until the very last moment. Terminal cancer in a 90-year-old beginning to experience multi-organ failure is just a reason to fight harder. After seeing families go through this, I have clearly communicated to my family members that this is not what I want.
I had an end of life and quality of life talk with a family recently. Sometimes, I feel a bit like the Grimm Reaper, because I enjoy these conversations. (They used to make me uncomfortable.) Death is certain, but I feel like I can do my part to empower the family and patient to experience a good death.
If they don't want thickened liquids, I can provide recommendations to make them as comfortable as possible with thin liquids. My job isn't always to prevent illness and death, sometimes the only focus is improving quality of life. What an incredible honor!
Learn more: Check out ASHA’s Patient Rights and Patient Choices.
Special Thanks to Rachel Wynn for writing a great blog post with her perspective pertaining to the geriatric population!
Rachel Wynn, MS CCC-SLP is speech-language pathologist specializing in geriatric care. She blogs at Gray Matter Therapy, which strives to provide information about geriatric care including functional treatment ideas, recent research, and ethical care. Rachel’s projects include: Gray Matter Therapy Newsletter, Research Tuesday, and Patient and Family Education Handouts. Find her coaching new SLPs, on Facebook, on Twitter, or hiking with her dog in Boulder, CO.
This post was a collaboration with Katie Millican from SLP Echo. Special Thanks to Katie for providing a lot of great tips that are pertinent to our favorite topic, Resume Writing.
Katie Millican, B.S. Ed., is a second year SLP graduate student at the University of West Georgia. She is moving to Alaska to complete her Clinical Fellowship experience in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District for the 2013-2014 school year. She is the author behind http://slpecho.wordpress.com/ where she writes on topics to help inform future and current SLP graduate students, as well as iPad apps for use in therapy.
I remember asking other students in my cohort what their resume looked like. Asking, “Did you put XYZ on there? How did you describe it? Is it considered work experience if you didn't get paid?” When writing a resume, don’t try to re-invent the wheel. There are resources at your disposal to lessen the confusion of resume design, organization, and content.
Organization and Structure
Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers outstanding advice for designing the overall look of a resume. First, scroll through the Resume Workshop Presentation for every section of a basic resume and how to compose a unique-to-you resume. Then, check out their Resume Design post to learn about the Quadrant test, using columns, font selections, and the 20 second test.
Tailoring an SLP Resume
Tailoring a resume means highlighting strengths and weaknesses which make you uniquely qualified for the position. Consider the employer – Are you applying to a school district or health care employer? Each place of employment might have a different need for posting the position. While many people keep one resume for every job they apply to, tailoring can make you stand out. Now, here are some basic guidelines for tailoring a resume:
1. Review the Purdue OWL structure and organization of a resume
2. Include the basic factual information from previous clinical experience and/or internships (i.e. name of employer, dates worked, location, supervisor, etc)
3. Now, as you search for a a desired SLP position posting online (when available), save and refer back to the description. For instance, below is an example pulled from an online posting for a school-based SLP.
1. Once you decide to apply, pin-point the main skills and requirements the employer is looking for based on the description provided. For example, in the above listing, “research” seems to be a large emphasis in this school district, as many bullet-points highlight evidence, journals, statistical analysis, and data collection.
a. Often, job postings are vague or limited to “Seeking full-time SLP for in-patient rehabilitation” or something to that effect. In that case, I would use the ASHA Scope of Practice for pin-pointing notable skills for mention relevant to previous experience.
2. On your resume, under each experience, include verbatium verbage from their own description as it relates to your clinical experience. To expand on the example above, for instance, you might put something to the extent of:
Obviously, you don’t want to make things up if your job never included the duties, but then again, almost every SLP job includes evidence-based approaches, working with culturally and linguistically diverse clientele creating short and long term goals, and working under educational or government regulations like IDEA and HIPAA. It’s all in the wording!
Keywords and Action Words are KEY
It is important to develop a list of keywords and action words to incorporate into your resume. There are many websites that provide a list of keywords and action words under various categories. The importance of these words is they highlight the skills that you possess and draw the employer to your resume.
Examples of how to incorporate keywords and action verbs into your resume:
1. Keywords: Intervention, strategies, family
Action Verbs: Educated, facilitate
· Educated family members of individuals with Aphasia on specific intervention strategies to facilitate active involvement
2. Key Words: Graduate students, speech pathology, clinical
Action Verb: Supervised
· Supervised graduate students in speech pathology program during their clinical rotations
3. Key Words: confidential documents, filing, accurately
Action Verbs: Organized, maintained
· Organized and accurately maintained filing system of confidential documents
Boston College and Wake Forest University organized a list of action verbs that could be incorporated into your resume .
Boston College’s Resume Action Verbs
Wake Forest University’s List of Action Verbs for Resumes and Professional Profiles
In addition to descriptions under jobs, Linkedin is a great resource to use to develop keywords to incorporate into your resume. To get to the Skills and Expertise Section on Linkedin, follow the steps below:
Log in to your Linkedin Account and click on More (located in the top toolbar)
1. In the Drop down menu under More, click on Skills & Expertise
2. When you get to the Skills & Expertise screen you can type in a keyword and other similar skills will populate based on what you typed into the search box.
How Long Should My Resume Be?
At some point, a transition from one to two page resumes lends itself to three and four page resumes. The more experience, professional development, and skills acquired automatically increases the length of a resume. However, I think the Purdue OWL’s 20 second rule still applies, no matter how many pages. Employers or Human Resource people want to see relevant experience and how recent/dates, education level, professional development, and other components correspond to the job.
The above job description and duties example appeared on the Disctrict of Columbia Public Schools website for a position as a school-based Speech-Language Pathologist, posted May 2, 2013.
Thank you Andrei for sharing this resource "340+Resume Action Verbs And Power Words [Complete list]
A couple weeks ago, I had the distinct honor of helping one of my Language-Impaired students with her resume. It took us about two weeks’ worth of extended therapy sessions to create a resume that met her needs despite her lack of professional experiences, but we did it.
Besides the feeling of satisfaction that I got from putting a vibrant young woman on track for her
first job, I learned that the key to drafting a winning resume is to write from the viewpoint of a
hiring manager. If you were the person who had to spend thousands of dollars in advertising in
hope of recruiting a top candidate for your company, what skills and personality traits would you
be looking for?
According to Ramit Sethi, author of “I will Teach You to Be Rich,” a hiring manager will spend
roughly 10 seconds scanning your resume. What do you want your resume to say about you? Do
not fall into the mental trap that you will land a job because speech-language pathologists are in
high demand and carelessly put your resume together. Turn your resume into a magnet for the
best companies by doing the following:
Avoid content indigestion (Ramit Sethi recommends that you make each word earn its place on
your resume and if the information is irrelevant for the position you are applying for, leave it off
Keep your resume neat (stick with Times New Roman or Arial fonts; no fancy graphics)
Target it for your specific audience (recruiters from various public/private organizations or
speech therapy business owners)
Have an objective (what type of position would you like and in what clinical setting; know what
Avoid overused phrases (we are all hard workers, team players and highly qualified; focus on
how your clinical skills will benefit your future employer)
In sum, the secret to writing a resume that gets you noticed is to take on the perspective of your
future employer. Remember, you would not want to read endless lists of people’s descriptions
of how they traded their time for money. Briefly state your objective, highlight your value and
attract the job of your dreams.
Special Thanks to Espinoza for writing this article about resume writing!
Espinoza Pierschke is a savvy Speech Therapist, Certified SEO Copywriter and author of “Windows Can Become Doors: A Blueprint for Beginning Speech Therapists.” She is passionate about making a difference and teaching fellow therapists how to survive life after graduate school.
THE TOP 7 REASONS TO BECOME A SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST
1. Communication Matters
We communicate in different ways everyday and as a Speech Language Pathologist you are helping others in the area of communication.
2. Your Head will Spin Some Days
As a Speech Language Pathologist, your head will spin some days because there are some cases more challenging than others. It allows us to become even more innovative than we already are and to think outside of the box.
3. Making a Difference and Changing the World (Literally)
As a Speech Language Pathologist, You are really making a difference and touching so many lives with the invaluable resources and wealth of knowledge that you provide to so many.
4. A Setting for Everyone
As a Speech Language Pathologist, there are many different settings that you can choose to work in, the possibilities are endless. As I always say, "There is a little something for everyone."
5. Welcome to Nerd or Geekland
Oh yes, you may never have thought you would hear these words, but all of the SLPs that I know are nerds, including myself. No, it is not a bad thing at all, it just means you do not stop learning and you are really interested in everything there is to know about the field. Lets face it, Speech Language Pathology is a really broad field and in order to stay current you do kind of become a SLP Geek :)
As a Speech Language Pathologist, you will have life changing stories and funny ones for years to come. Go ahead and get your journal ready.
As a Speech Language Pathologist, you have the opportunity to join in on an amazing community of Speech Language Pathologists on Twitter (#SLPeeps). This group is amazing, the community of SLPs that you communicate with via Twitter and other forms of social media is truly a one-of-a kind experience. It is not only a community, but friendships are made here as well. PediaStaff made it really easy for you to get involved in Social Media by creating a Guidebook.