The Changing Roles of SLPs

by Tom Kloiber on November 2, 2012

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The Changing Roles of SLPs

At one time or another, we have all considered breaking free of our traditional roles and doing something different. Starting a business or working freelance as an independent contractor come to mind, and many people grab the bull by the horns and sally forth into the unknown. Okay, so as professional SLPs, it’s not that risky. The demand is so great that we can always find a great job. What would you do if you could just pick up and change everything? Here are some options to consider.

Telecommuting

Telehealth positions are becoming increasingly popular as a cost-effective measure, especially in rural areas where patients might be separated by a lot of distance. There are a number of advantages, including working from home or from a quiet office, servicing patients who are in comfortable and familiar surroundings, so less time is spent trying to get the attention of young ones or see to the comfort of older ones before you can even begin the session. This is an area that is destined for explosive growth in the near future as schools and insurance companies struggle to control costs. To prepare for a career in SLP telecommuting, learn to use the essential technology, tools, and apps that will allow you to deliver the same quality care as a face-to-face interaction…that you can look forward to doing in your bunny slippers, perhaps with a nice cup of chai tea at hand.

Traveling SLP

While you may not have considered a traveling position, there are an astounding number to be had. Search any travel staffing job board to find positions all over the U.S. And even abroad. There is plenty of appeal to travel work, including exciting new experiences: New places to explore, people to meet (and expand your network), different cultures (even within the U.S.) and different cuisines to tickle your taste buds. The possibilities are endless, and the key is to choose areas that offer new experiences. A travel lifestyle isn’t for everyone…it can feel a bit rootless. But for a newly divorced SLP who wants to start anew, it can be a great way to sample different places with an eye to settling down, or just a great way to meet new people who won’t ask those awkward questions. For the older SLP, whose kids are grown and whose spouse is retired, it’s a great way to do that traveling you’ve always talked about…without dipping into your savings. And for the young person who isn’t yet tied down, it’s a fantastic opportunity to strike out on your own and find an environment that suits you, where you can see yourself spending your life, building a business, and making your career happen. It’s great experience on a resume, and a great way to work excitement into your life while still being responsible. You can follow the sun, find the fresh powder if winter sports is your thing, or just take a coast-to-coast approach and choose your assignments at random for a few weeks of…different.

Whatever approach you take will ratchet your career into high gear, adding experience and padding your resume with impressive accomplishments. Breaking out of the box can be both exhilarating and lucrative. And all you have to do is believe in yourself.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gloria November 15, 2012 at 3:01 am

BarbaraWell I don’t mind using something that will help my son cnmtuoicame. Supposedly, those apps are used with children that are autistic or have other issues. It really helps to increase their receptive language skills, a problem that apraxic children really don’t have. My big problem is: what happens to the therapy? A group of kids are in a circle practicing sounds and when it’s Max’s turn he uses the device since the therapist doesn’t want to do the extra effort to get the words out of him. I find that awkward. I believe that for a case like my son, it’s like using diapers. At home I have to manipulate his mouth for a couple of days to get him to say something. I’ve been wanting to try using the Kaufman cards. Every time I mention apraxia to anyone they don’t understand as it’s such a rare disorder.

Nate Cornish November 20, 2012 at 11:49 am

That’s a good point to bring up, and a fair concern. Children with apraxia- and any other type communication disorder- not only need to acquire new speech and language skills, they need to be able to use them during actual communication. That happens best in dynamic, face-to-face interactions with people where communication is a tool that buys them something.

That said, we might also be throwing the baby out with the bathwater if we exclude the use of therapy apps because they could make it easier for a clinician to duck out on services. Unfortunately, we are talking about a relatively new technology, and ASHA doesn’t have an official policy document that specifically regulates how apps or mobile technology are to be used. However, an ethical and competent therapist would know and adhere to some pretty simple guidelines that would prevent her or him from simply letting an app do all the work. Here are a few official ASHA policies I found that certified SLPs are beholden to:
 Principle of Ethics I, Rule of Ethics A. “Individuals shall provide all services competently.”

 Principle of Ethics I, Rule of Ethics E “Individuals who hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence shall not delegate tasks that require the unique skills, knowledge, and judgment that are within the scope of their profession to assistants, technicians, support personnel, or any nonprofessionals over whom they have supervisory responsibility.” (It doesn’t mention apps or software programs, but the spirit of the policy applies, I believe.)

 Professional Issues in Telepractice for Speech-Language Pathologists “Online clinical materials, paced software programs, and other “digital” therapy tools can serve as adjuncts to live interactions.” (This is directed at telepractitioners, but I like the specific use of the word “adjuncts.” Digital therapy tools can supplement live interactions, but shouldn’t replace them.)

Some of the apps out there work so seamlessly, it could make it pretty easy for a careless clinician to try to use them inappropriately. However, my guess is that a clinician who does not “want to do the extra effort” is probably going to act in that way regardless of the technology that is available. Competent SLPs know that mobile apps and any other technology can only be used to supplement the skilled services they provide. We are also answerable to ASHA and perhaps our state certifying agencies if we do not. I would encourage anyone who sees an SLP acting inappropriately to speak with the clinician, administrators, state licensing bodies, and ASHA. I would also suggest that therapy apps can be a powerful tool that the majority of ethical and competent clinicians out there can use to make their service delivery even more effective.

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