Picture this, you’re still in your undergrad classes, taking notes and trying to get a good grade on all your assignments. The professors are already warning you how hard it will be to get into grad school. You see the other students in the room as your competition, not not as the peers who you will one day be working in the field with. Like the jungle, each time tests were handed back you could cut the tension in the room with a knife. From the very beginning of your SLP journey, you have put up barriers to make sure you get to accomplish your goals.
Now you might have the personal experience or a friend’s story of the professor who told them they wouldn’t make it in the field. The supervisor who made a comment on what you wore to the clinic, or how they would have done something complete different with a client. You start off your therapeutic career often with lots of scrutiny and second guessing everything you do with clients. For some that helps shape them into amazing therapist, but for others that adds a life long toll of seconded guessing their individual therapy techniques.
Undergrad and grad students are fresh and excited and just what our field needs. They need to know that what we do isn’t cookie cutter, and we are excited to support their strengths when they join our field. Help push away the negativity, and loneliness that our undergrad and graduate programs sometimes create (even if it’s unintentional).
Practicing SLPs and SLPAs we need to work harder on realizing we are not alone, and we can lean on each other to create a network of support and change. You may be the only one in your building, district, office, nursing home, or hospital, but that doesn’t mean you have no one in your corner. It’s ok to do therapy different than others, it’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to not always know the immediate answer.
I challenge everyone to take the CUEs needed to become a mentor for future SLPs and CFs. To reach out to those via social media, snail mail, conventions and repair some of those competitive feelings that may impact your willingness to find support today. Hopefully our schooling can make some change by allowing more students in graduate programs in order to increase acceptance into our field. Either way, the little things you can do to help go a long way.