Interview with a Private Clinician: Part 1
In my last post, I talked about how I did a little bit of
work in private practice and what I see as the advantages to keeping my day job
in the schools! I wanted to share the expertise of Christopher Heistand, the
SLP who started the clinic where I work over the summer. There are now three
SLPs and three OTs who work together at this clinic. I have nothing but
admiration for all of them, and the other SLPs in my town who work in private
AS: What is your background in speech pathology?
CH: I have a
master's degree in speech-language pathology from Western Washington
University. I became interested in the field by way of a suggestion from my
mother when I was in the ninth grade. She suggested to my siblings and me that
we should pursue careers where we have had real life experience.
As was the case with me, speech therapy was an area that I had had exposure. I
have now been practicing for 14 years and for the most part, been enjoying my
chosen profession every day; where else do you get paid to play with kids all
AS: What settings have you worked in?
CH: I have been fortunate to have worked in most
settings that are associated with our field. These include the hospital medical
inpatient setting (the primary focus being swallowing/feeding post trauma), the
hospital outpatient setting (Children's therapy and post stroke/Aphasia),
hospital transitional care unit, pediatric private practice and three different
AS: What did you like most about the schools?
CH: For me,
the best part of the schools was all of the kids that I got to interact with on
a daily basis. I made a point to get to know not only my kids, but also many of
their peers. I believe in many situations, I was the primary bridge between my
kids' general education program and their specially designed program.
Often, my interaction with peers paved the way for more naturally occurring interactions
between my kids and other students. My least favorite aspect of the schools
model is very easy for me to identify. Most will say the paper work.
Albeit, there is way too much paper work, but I feel that my least favorite
would be the lack of time. The paper work wouldn't be so bad, given we had
ample time to complete it. As a result, I always felt like we were providing "fast
food therapy" as opposed to "fine dining therapy." This is not to say that
there isn't some fine dining in the schools; rather, it's to say that there are
fewer opportunities for it to occur.
In my opinion, it is a reflection of all the things that we understand as being
wrong with the system (e.g., large case-loads, limited budgets, understaffed
departments and massive amounts of paperwork).
I must say that working in the schools provided me with a very important aspect
of my practice today; that is, an understanding of the IEP process and the
realities of the school system. This allows for me to assist parents with their
understanding of the process when they enter into the schools system.
Please stay tuned for my next blog entry in which I will
share the rest of Christopher's thoughts regarding private practice vs. school