Every speech therapy setting has its unique stressors plus there are common stressors to the profession. When you’re becoming a practicing SLP it can be stressful, but wait until you encounter the “real world.” That’s a whole new ball game.
While I have found ways of dealing with some of this stress, I have also found avoiding the “stressors can add even more stress! By now you may be thinking and/or saying “Huh?” so let me get right to it.
Here is my top five list (from least to greatest stressor for me), of stressors and how I deal with them (without avoiding them).
- Keeping Up with My CEUS (Continuing Education Units). In addition to working, you need to take classes on what is happening in the field. The American Speech Language Association (ASHA) requires 30 hours per interval. You can check the ASHA website for more information. You can’t avoid this, but it is always in the back of your mind. You can take courses online but make sure that ASHA and your state recognizes these courses. While a learning experience is never wasted your money can be. Don’t pay $300 – $400 and then find out that your course provider isn’t recognized by ASHA or your state.
- Scheduling patients. I can speak from experience in the home health and the school setting. In the schools, you need to speak with the teachers and know the general school schedule. When can certain kids be seen, which group do they best fit in? Can you schedule yourself for lunch and going to the bathroom. In the home health setting, client’s cancel at the last minute, sometimes they are not home for scheduled visits and can forget to call you. While this is stressful, try to have open communication with parents, teachers and supervisors. Explain your situation. Working together, many of the scheduled conflicts can be worked out.
- Productivity. I could go on forever here but try to see as many clients as you can and write reports. In the skilled nursing home setting, the facility gets paid for direct client contact. You often don’t get paid for charting and writing orders. Try to build in time in your visit for paperwork. In the home care setting, I write my notes in the car right after the visit. In the skilled nursing setting, you may be able to chart in the patient’s room. If it is not written down and recorded, it did not happen. Try to make it work for you and keep the lines of communication open with your supervisors.
- Educating staff and parents. I happen to like this part of my job. But, often parents, teachers and nursing staff are too busy to be involved. I try leave a small amount of home work and do a short demonstration. I always tell the person that I am educating that I recognize that they are busy. They often listen better when they see that I have some respect for their workload.
- Preparing for therapy. In my case, my car is my office so I try to have my materials at hand. Take 5 minutes to read your last visit notes. Consider what worked and be ready to throw out the plan if it is not working. While preparing is stressful, take a deep breath and remember good preparation is a measure of how much you care!