New Kid on the Block


No, this isn’t a blog about the boy band (sad I know), but it is about being the new kid on the block—the  SLP block. Starting graduate school, getting your first job, or beginning your CFY, all these new challenges bring a mix of feelings from excitement to fear that are at least unnerving and maybe even  overwhelming.

Isabel Martinez is a new grad and current CFY who tells us what it’s like to be the new kid on the SLP block.

Nearly two years ago, I sat in a classroom waiting for orientation for graduate school to begin.  My first thought was, “Why are there no boys in my cohort?”  My second thought was, “How am I going to get along with 30 girls?!”  Unlike most of my classmates, I had no idea what to expect from graduate school for Communication Science and Disorders.   See, speech language pathology is my second career.  My undergraduate degree was in a completely unrelated field and my pre-requisites for grad school were done online.  I was completely convinced that I was way behind my peers.  Turns out I was completely mistaken; none of us knew what we were in for.

If you’re reading this and are a CF or soon-to-be CF, or a seasoned SLP for that matter, surely the memories of graduate school’s intense clinical training still make you cringe.  Yep, we’ve all been there.  We’ve asked the NPO patient how his lunch was (and mentally slapped ourselves in the face!  Did I   really just say that?!).   We’ve been sneezed on while looking inside a 2nd grader’s mouth to help him with his /r/’s and immediately became sick.  We’ve gagged when handling mucus from a trach, in front of the patient; supremely embarrassing.   And let’s not forget to pay homage to the four hours worth of SOAP notes followed by two article critiques and the next week’s lesson plans, all due in one night.

Yet, for each of those cringe-worthy moments, every speechie I know can respond with at least two amazingly worthwhile and gratifying moments.  For example, when we helped that patient with aphasia tell a family member he loves them, when we taught a woman to tell time again after a severe hemorrhagic stroke, and when we provided counsel and empowerment to the parent who has just learned about her child’s language disorder.

While most of us speechies are intrinsically motivated to help our clients, we were helped along the way in grad school.  I would like to take this moment to acknowledge just a few of the contributors to the preservation of my sanity:

-          Pinterest: thank you for providing entertainment and countless therapy ideas

-          Coffee: no explanation necessary

-          Vera Bradley shoulder bags: your dozens of pockets and hidden compartments made carrying school/therapy supplies almost a breeze; we’ll deal with the spinal column misalignment later…

-          ASHA: research articles, therapy ideas, and the ASHA Convention; motivating current and future SLPs to keep our practice within the realm of evidence based practice, to best help our patients

-          What Should We Call SLP School tumblr:, good for much needed laughs and reassurance that we aren’t the only speech students pulling our hair out

-          Professors: for instilling in us the passion for our field and taking the time to mold us into excellent clinicians

-          Chocolate: again, no explanation necessary

All joking aside, here I am, nearly two years later, getting ready to begin a career.  How lucky am I?  I don’t just have a job to go to every day.  I have a vocation, a calling.  What an amazing gift!  I’m just a few weeks away from graduation.  It’s a bizarre feeling.  On the one hand, I am so absolutely ready to start my career with all that I have learned.  I mean, my brain is brimming with all of this new, recent, hot-off-the-press evidence based therapy.  On the other hand, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING?!  Ok, well, that thought only enters my mind occasionally, haha.  I am empowered, supported, and encouraged by thousands of future colleagues to access what I need to do the best job I can by my patients.  It’s my responsibility, but it’s also my reward.

Interested in having PPR help you through your new career? Contact us today!