Take Your Skills to the Next Level
Has last week's post enticed you into exploring opportunities for gaining experience with adult and geriatric populations? Skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and acute care settings may all have a need for PRN therapists. Before we start updating your resume, let's address some common perceived barriers I wrote about last week:
I already have a full-time job, and I don't want to spread myself too thin.
You are never obligated to work as a PRN therapist. Sure, if you are never available, you will receive fewer calls, but you can turn down an offer when you need to.
I haven't worked with adult patients since graduate school! How will I know what to do for a patient with dysphagia or aphasia?
Your basic knowledge and skills are still there! Many facilities will allow you to shadow a full-time therapist while you decide if you feel comfortable in this setting. In the meantime, if you are serious about working in geriatrics, you should start reviewing and refreshing your skills. Find a speech-language pathologist in your area who works in a SNF and ask her to mentor you.
I am worried about "fitting in" or functioning in a medical setting that involves doctors, nurses, therapists from several disciplines, families, dieticians and so on. I'll also have to learn new documentation protocols, billing systems, and software.
All new situations require an adjustment period. I remember figuring out the process of scheduling with teachers and learning to write IEPs, and later learning the ins and outs of long-term care. It can be daunting and you might feel awkward, but at the end you have a larger skill set and more experience as a result of challenging yourself. You should certainly receive some assistance from the SLPs that work full-time, and when they are out and you are covering their caseload, other therapists are usually glad to help. Be honest about your experience in every situation, and do not hesitate to ask questions and request help.
I don't have any therapy materials or books to use with adults.
This is probably the easiest hurdle to overcome. As I've written before here and here, many adult clients will enjoy modified versions of activities we use with younger clients, and you don't need to break the bank in order to acquire therapy materials.
What's your next step? Dust off and revise your resume, perhaps under the scrutiny of a colleague who works in your targeted setting, and send it out to local nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and home health agencies. Facilities that are under contract with a rehabilitation company to provide services will direct you to their human resources department. Other facilities may use "in house" therapists and work with you directly. Don't hesitate to shadow another therapist, or even volunteer some time if you are able, in order to prepare.
Next week: Let's get ready to interview!