I finished my Master’s degree in 2000. Yes, 12 years ago. Tonight, as we were preparing to load our moving trucks tomorrow, there were a few boxes labeled “SLP stuff” that my husband brought down from the attic. I was curious about what could possibly be in there that I hadn’t needed at work. Turns out, the boxes were full of my undergrad and grad school binders. *shudder* The memories of long nights, stressful study sessions and even more stressful tests came flooding
Why have I held on to this stuff for so long? I know why. I earned those binders. Blood, sweat and tears went into those pages and pages of notes and handouts. Those binders represented the better part of 6 very formative years of my life and on the chance that I just might need to look up what Dr. Lance said about adolescent language assessment, it would be available.
It took me about 10 seconds to make the decision to purge that extra baggage. Everything in those binders is either outdated or available with a simple Google search. The relief of dumping those pages and pages of notebook paper into the recycling bin was astounding. But, then, I came to the binders from those classes that didn’t come easy – neuro (1 & 2) and speech & hearing science and dysphagia. As the pages emptied from those binders, I saw the red ink that scarred my hard work and test papers. I paused just long enough to read a few comments like, “inadequate”, “not even close” and “this is a 25 point question, you should’ve known this.” The one that still stung after all these years was, “if you can’t remember this, you’ll never be able to practice.” Then I realized that he was so wrong. Here I am – 13 years after taking that test, the success of 100′s of kids and families under my belt to prove him wrong.
I am a speech-language pathologist. I am not perfect and I don’t know everything our field encompasses, but I know how to help my students and when I don’t know, I know how to find out. I have worked with children for 12 years. Most of my work has been school-based. My area of practice is educationally-centered. If I ever needed to hone my skills in other settings, I could, but I don’t need to know it all to be a practicing SLP. Even the very best among us don’t know it all.
I may not remember the minutia of anatomy and physiology or feel comfortable interpreting a swallow study, but I can help a nonverbal child express his needs.
I may not remember the neurological trivia of stroke rehab, but I can help a child with autism navigate the uncertainties of social interactions.
I certainly can’t decipher voice assessment printouts, but I can help a child go from being unintelligible to giving an oral presentation in class.
That is what I do.
I am a speech-language pathologist.
I help kids communicate.
I am not just practicing.
I am making a difference.
That is infinitely more powerful than the threatening red words of a college professor.