"State"ing My Reasons
With my state's annual convention coming up later this week, the topic of my state association has been on my mind. I know not all school-based SLPs choose to join their state-level associations, rather choosing to belong only to ASHA. There are many reasons for this: the money, or the fact that people don't see any advantage in belonging to a state-level association when they already belong to ASHA, and so on.
I'd like to share my reasons as to why I choose to belong to my state's speech-language-hearing association.
1. Annual Convention. Attending ASHA is often not an option for many school-based SLPs. It is quite expensive between the registration fee, travel fees and hotel fees. The annual convention changes location year after year, and for this reason it isn't always feasible to attend.
In my 13 years of practice, I've attended ASHA twice, and both times I only attended because it happened to be in my home state (eliminating the distance option), and I had a friend who had a place that was close enough to the convention location so that I could crash there and avoid paying hotel fees. Every year in my state the convention location varies, so it's bound to come within driving distance of most state SLP residents at some point every few years (like for me this year - less than an hour drive!). If attending ASHA isn't going to be possible because you live too far away (i.e. not near a major city where ASHA would be held), your second best option is going to your state convention to hear important speakers covering various topics in our field. Just a sampling of topics I'm considering attending include medical access for school-based speech-language pathologists, AAC, apps and fluency. Any of you fellow Pennsylvania residents attending the convention this week? Maybe I'll see you there!
2. Webinars. I'm not sure what other state organizations offer, but Pennsylvania offers relevant, reasonably-priced webinars on a variety of topics for SLPs. Even if you can't attend the webinars live, they are available for replay (to both members and non-members) for a reduced fee, which you can view at your own convenience. I admit, I have yet to take advantage of one of these webinars, but I certainly wouldn't rule it out. There is a very interesting webinar coming up next month entitled, "The Evolving Role of Speech-Language Pathologists in School-Based Settings." Sounds like something right up my alley!
3. Legislation and Advocacy. Public education funding, licensure issues, etc., vary from state-to-state. I get periodic emails from my state organization about upcoming votes on bills, proposed legislation, potential changes to state licensure, and other related topics. These all have the potential to directly affect my work as a school-based SLP in Pennsylvania. I do not think I'd be nearly as well-informed about these topics if I weren't a member of my state organization.
4. Better Speech & Hearing Month Activities. Before you know it, Better Speech & Hearing Month (BSHM) will be here! Can you believe it's almost May? Every year my state has both a coloring contest and an essay contest for students to celebrate BSHM. It's just one another "fun" thing for the kids to do at this time of year and a way to get them excited for BSHM! Not to brag, but I'm proud of this, so I will brag! A month or two ago, I entered my state's contest for the slogan for this year's BSHM coloring picture and essay contest. I never thought I had a chance, but I was pleasantly surprised when I printed out my materials last week and saw that my theme ("Communication Nation") was chosen!
Those are just four reasons why I belong to my state's speech-language-hearing association. How about all of you? How many of you belong to your state-level association? Why or why not? Feel free to respond here or on the ADVANCE Facebook page!