You did it! You are inches away from becoming a speech and language pathologist! (Or educator, therapist, teacher, social worker – those work for this post too.) You are finishing up your internships, then a CFY, and you will finally make enough to start paying back your student loans, live in an awesome loft, and buy one drink a week at the Cashew while living off cereal. Wait, maybe that was just me.
It is that time in your life your professor’s warned you about. You know, how Dr. Bohnenkamp yelled “You think this is hard? Just wait until you are in the real world! This isn’t hard!” He is such a liar. You go to work, you come home, and nothing. No homework, no projects, no memorizing the cranial nerves. Nothing. (Unless you have children. Then you come home and do 10,000 things)
You already know everything. Right? You are going to be the greatest speech pathologist the world has ever seen. Maybe. But here is the thing: You know nothing. Yeah, I know. You passed your boards. You finished your PRAXIS. You are the master of your universe. But you aren’t really. Yet.
So how are you going to become the greatest speech pathologist in the universe? You are going to ask 1 million questions. To everyone. Be the most annoying person in the room. Care. Ask questions about every single patient/student/child you meet. Ask. Because you will never know unless you ask. And when you ask, you let everyone else that cares about that child know that you care too.
Let me tell you a little story. I had an intern a few years ago. She had passed her boards and her PRAXIS and all that jazz. She came to me as a very knowledgeable young woman. When I would say words like “syllableness” or “rotary chew” she would nod. She never asked, so I assumed she knew. Then two weeks later when she took over my kiddos, she looked like a deer in the headlights. She wasn’t ready. She didn’t ask enough questions to be ready. She should have asked. She would have been a better clinician if she cared enough to ask.
So go forth my fellow SLPs. Go forth and be great. Ask questions and be passionate. Love your patients. Ask questions. In the end, no one cares how well you did in neuroscience. They will care if you care enough to sit in an IEP meeting/care conference/diagnostic team meeting and leave your pride at the door, wanting to help the child more than you want to look good.