Answering Questions About My Career As an SLP
I love questions about my career as a speech-language pathologist. I've been passionate about it from the beginning, and I enjoy telling others about this rewarding career, especially those thinking of a career as an SLP.
I began my career working in the public schools, and those years working with children, teachers, parents and fellow SLPs were quite rewarding, as well as demanding, frustrating, inspiring, creative, and busy. Encouraging comments were the norm.
There were always some not-so-welcome comments ("Educators have it so easy" or "Wow, I wish I could play games with kids all day and get paid"), but mostly, the reactions were supportive.
After about five years with the schools, I decided to give adult therapy a try. I wanted to work with adults in treatment before I had worked in pediatrics too long to make the transition. I sent out feelers, talked to recruiters, and was offered a position in geriatrics at a skilled nursing facility (SNF). The questions and comments changed immediately.
Question: "What's a skilled nursing facility?"
Me: "It's a nursing home."
Question: "Oh, isn't that really depressing?"
Me: "No. Actually, it's very rewarding. I help a lot of people."
Question: "Really? My friend's cousin's brother-in-law's mother was in a nursing home. I heard it was horrible. Aren't they all there because they are going to die?"
People tend to think of working with children, or young adults, as rewarding and positive and good for everyone. But they often see working with older adults and senior citizens as hopeless and depressing, and quite often, as a waste of time.
Each of my patients has had a story to share, a unique life history and perspective. Like kids, many have a great sense of humor and joy; others may be more difficult to get to know. Some are friendly and outgoing; others are shy, or unable to communicate well. They are intelligent, witty, passionate and, surprisingly to some, full of life and vitality. In short, they are just like the rest of us, only older.
To me, our elders deserve just as much care and support as our children. They have more years behind them than ahead of them - that's true. But they have insight into parts of history we only get to experience through them.
Our children are always worth our time because we, as SLPs, are helping them to reach their potential, to experience full and productive lives, and to communicate with those they love. Our seniors are always worth our time because we, as SLPs, are helping them to share their diverse experiences, and to teach others to appreciate how important communication is throughout our lives. No matter if you are 9 or 99, there is someone out there who wants to hear you say, "Thanks", "Good morning" or "I love you."
Check back in one week to read my next post, "Five Great Ways to Work with Geriatric Patients"!