A Good Laugh, Just for Students, Random SLP, Uncategorized

You Still Know You’re An SLP Grad Student When…

5. Your friends ask if you want to consider a Caribbean cruise in the fall and your response is: “Sorry guys, I’ve got ASHA…” (although let’s be honest, they were never going to pull the cruise plan off anyway!)

image from: cobusbahamas.com
image from: http://www.asha.org
















4. You high-five the person next to you in the computer lab because your pediatric client’s final case summary for the short, 8-week summer quarter is only 12 pages long! FOR THE WIN!

3. The kids you nanny for decide to play “word association” in the car on the way home from camp and you subconsciously start taking an inventory of their semantic networking skills

2. Your initial reaction while watching The Dark Knight Rises is: “Holy mama, Batman is going to have some serious nodules if he keeps that phonotraumatic voice going much longer!” http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6643191/batman-chooses-his-voice (warning for one tiny quick moment of bad language!)

image by Warner Brothers


1. Listening to the following link is actually a legitimate part of studying for your AAC class final: https://faculty.washington.edu/dowden/sphsc540/Notes/TextSpeechSample.wav. I think we can all agree that NO ONE WOULD PICK WENDY!!!!!

Guest Posts, Just for Students, Random SLP

5 Ways to Set Yourself Up NOW for Private Practice Success Later: Guest Post by Jena Casbon

I am absolutely thrilled and honored to have a guest post by the wonderful, amazing Jena Casbon! She has a fabulous website about everything under the sun for private practitioners and those hoping to start their own practice, so I suggest you hurry (not mosey) on over to The Independent Clinician as soon as you finish reading!

Attention graduate students and new grads:

Are you interested in starting a private practice someday? If you’re anything like I was, I hoped to get my degree, work for a few years and then start my own private practice. I had fallen in love with the profession of Speech-Language Pathology and couldn’t wait to fix everyone with a speech, language, cognitive or swallowing disorder.

During my CF, I became aware of two colleagues who had their own private practices. They worked part-time at the hospital with me and part-time treating their own private clients. I longed for their freedom, their confidence, their status as private practitioners and their ability to earn double their hospital salary in half the time. In the year after my clinical fellowship, Rick and Kathryn taught me everything I needed to know about treating private clients. From what liability insurance to get, to how they documented, to their suggested fees and marketing strategies. Eventually I felt ready and started to treat my own private patients and I haven’t looked back!

If you’re still interested in becoming a private practitioner someday, here are 5 Lessons that Will Help YOU Start Your Own Private Practice Someday

1. Your Knowledge Must Be Valuable

Speech-Language Pathologists provide a service, much like a masseuse, a car mechanic or a realtor. In private practice, clients will either pay out of pocket for services or they will be reimbursed through health insurance. Make sure that you have enough experience and expertise before you start to charge people for your services. Although a bad massage or a half-fixed car would be a bummer, patients and families are trusting you with all of their heart to help their child or family member to become whole. Do not take that lightly.

2. Be Open to Various Forms of Private Practice

Many people think of “being in private practice” as leasing office space, having employees and a waiting room. The mentality is that you either have a private practice OR you have a regular job at a school or hospital. There is a much larger percentage of clinicians who have their own part-time private practices after work, on weekends or during the summer. Some therapists have private practices that do second opinion evaluations only. Others incorporate cool elements like pet therapy. One of the best things about private practice is that it’s yours to shape how you want to.

3. Have Multiple Streams of Income

This is something I learned from my mentor Kathryn. She told me, “Never become dependent on one income.” Now she took this a bit further by working at the hospital, having her private practice, owning rental property and teaching 14 spin classes at the gym BUT the principle is worth practicing and sharing. Working full-time at a “regular job” is typically extremely safe but layoffs do happen. Private practices can have a steady stream of clients and then a drop off. By flexing your schedule and adding extra income opportunities, you can keep yourself safe.

4. Become an Expert Something You Love

By this point in your early career you have probably started to figure out your interests. Maybe it’s with adults with aphasia. Or children with hearing loss. No matter what aspect of our field that you fall in love with, if you’re truly interested in helping people, become an expert. Read journal articles, ask questions, attend seminars/conventions/workshops, do research, give a presentation at ASHA. In general, the people who are most successful in private practice have become experts. People want their loved one to receive therapy from an expert. Become the expert and watch your practice grow.

5. Build a Network of Colleagues/Friends as Referral Sources

You may be too young to realize this but the therapy world is very small. The people you know through graduate school, clinical placements and friends of friends are all a part of your referral network. Embrace and cultivate those professional relationships as they will become part of the backbone of your success. Also, don’t limit your network to SLP’s only. You’ll want to add OT’s and PT’s, music therapists, pediatricians, social workers, special education instructors, neuropsychologists, etc. to your list of professional contacts. Engage with these people often and make sure they know what your professional interests are. Private practices often grow through word of mouth referrals. Personal referrals are often the most successful.

 One Final Note

One thing that amazed me about Rick and Kathryn was their willingness to teach me how to get started in private practice. My initial thought was, “Why would they teach me, their potential competition, how to enter the market?” The truth was, we weren’t competition. We had different interests, levels of expertise and years of experience. By supporting me, I was able to in turn help them. Collaboration always wins over competition.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have had that level of mentorship. This is exactly why I created The Independent Clinician, a website filled with resources to help SLP’s, OT’s and PT’s get started on their journey to private practice. Even if you’re not ready yet, go ahead and get on the mailing list. I am here to answer your questions and support you if or when you decide to start your own private practice.

Jena H. Casbon, MS CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist in New Orleans, Louisiana and soon to be returning to Boston, Massachusetts. She is passionate about helping adult survivors of stroke and brain injury regain prior functions and be successful in their new lives. She has acted as a consultant for MTV’s True Life: I Have a Traumatic Brain Injury and Lisa Genova’s novel, Left Neglected. In addition to helping her patients, she has taught hundreds of SLP’s, OT’s and PT’s how to start their own private practices. She is the author of two books: The Independent Clinician Guide to Private Patients and The Independent Clinician Guide to Creating a Web Presence. 

A Good Laugh, Just for Students

You Know You’re A SLP Grad Student When…Part 3

Why deny your love for top-10 (or top-5) lists?  You and I both know they make the world go round, so I’m back with Part 3 of my NoEndInSight-part set of “You Know You’re a SLP Grad Student When…” lists.  That last sentence made very little grammatical sense, but then again neither does my life during spring quarter of year 1 of grad school…


5. You start doing a chin tuck every time you take your multi vitamin

4. Your weekly Youtube Recommendations email (yeah…apparently those exist now) includes all videos about muscle tension     dysphonia and spastic dysarthria

3. You believe that bubbles can fix any problem 

2. You automatically assume that any text that appears in parentheses is a maze (thanks a lot SALT [not a maze])                                T: Can you think of anything more fun than SALT?                                                                                                                                            

H: Umm>                                                                                                                                                                                                              

=Hanna bangs head against wall while transcribing yet another language sample

1. You could actually answer the question: Frog, where are you?…maybe he’s with a boy and a dog :/

A Good Laugh, Just for Students

Abbrev. Please!

Have you ever noticed how many acronyms exist in the world of speech-language pathology?  I never really thought about it until today, while sitting in my motor speech disorders class.  In a mere 3 powerpoint slides, we threw around at least 8 acronyms.  Insanity.  In all honesty, I love abbrevs and acros, assuming I am mildly successful in remember what they mean (that’s abbreviations and acronyms for anyone who hasn’t quite caught on…).  Now that I had begun thinking about the somewhat unbelievable rate of acro-usage going on in my department, I decided to keep track of all the ones I heard and/or used during a single day at UW (The University of Washington).  Rather than just list them all-which I’ve done at the bottom anyway-I decided to create sentences with them.  How many do you know without cheating and looking at the list at the end of the post?


ID is the new MR in the APA literature.

After learning about his Dx, the stressed grad student checked Jimmy’s file for Hx of Sx as well as previous Ax and Tx done in the schools.  She also made sure to take note of his current Rx list.

If you’re diagnosed with PD, you might consider LSVT or DBS, since both options have EBP to support them.

ABR is a step in the process of identifying kids who may be candidates for a CI down the road.

SLI can be misdiagnosed in CLD kids who may exhibit a “difference” rather than a “disorder.”

The interdisciplinary clinic staffed a SLP, an OT, a PT, and an ABA specialist to help address the needs of their clients with ASD, who often require specialized Rf schedules and items.

After his TBI, he began seeing a SLT regularly to help him adjust to using an AAC device.

UL UMN damage typically doesn’t cause many speech impairments, since most CN’s receive bilateral UMN input.

MS and ALS are disorders that affect both BL LMNs and BL UMNs (thereby impairing the DAP and IAP).

She wrote her SOAP notes after a session with her client who has CP.

So…how many do you know off the top of your head?  It’s amazing to think that we talk in code during so much of the day!  I guess speeding up our talking leaves all the more time for paperwork 😉  Below is the list in case you want it for a reference!

PD: Parkinson’s Disease

DBS: deep brain stimulation

LSVT: Lee Silverman Voice Treatment

APA: American Psychological Association

Ax: Assessment

Tx: Treatment

Dx: Diagnosis

HX: History

Sx: Symptoms

Rx: Prescription

MR: Mental retardation (OLD term)

ID: Intellectual disability (NEW term)

CI: Cochlear implant

EBP: Evidence-based practice

CLD: Culturally and linguistically different

SLI: Specific language impairment

SLP: Speech-language pathologist

SLT: Speech-language therapist

OT: Occupational therapist

PT: Physical therapist

ABR: Auditory brainstem response

ABA: Applied behavior analysis

ASD: Autism spectrum disorder

TBI: Traumatic brain injury

UL: Unilateral

BL: Bilateral

UMN: Upper motor neuron

LMN: Lower motor neuron

CN: Cranial nerve

DAP: Direct Activation Pathway

IAP: Indirect Activation Pathway

MS: Multiple Sclerosis

ALS: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

CP: Cerebral palsy

SOAP: Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan

AAC: Augmentative and alternative communication

Rf: Reinforcement

A Good Laugh, Language Therapy, Random Therapy Ideas

Mission Impossible

One of my fellow cohort-mates sent out a Facebook plea the other day asking for topic suggestions to elicit lots of language from a client during her upcoming eval session.  Based on his file, he was 13 yrs old, coming in for a voice/artic eval (I know…odd combo), and his interests ranged from “I dunno” to “whatever.”  To all you male SLPs out there (yes, all 8 of you), maybe you have a secret arsenal of conversation topics to get boys in this age range spouting off language.  For the rest of us though, this is a dreaded demographic for eliciting lots of connected speech for later analysis.  My friend’s post was met with a myriad of responses…some truly helpful and others downright hilarious!

Although she generated a handful of decent suggestions from the wonderful world of social networking, we all tossed out some ideas later that day in our computer lab.  I thought I would share some of the good ones from that conversation in case you are ever stuck trying to think of fun ways to elicit lots of language from a client this age!

  • Client versus Wild: Have 2 baskets/hats/jars: in one you have pieces of paper listing out common tools, household items, survival items, and the occasional funny wildcard.  In the other you have pieces of paper with possible survival settings on them (i.e. post-zombie invasion New York, deserted island, volcanic mountain mid-eruption, etc.).  You tell the client they can choose 3 slips of paper from the “items” jar and one slip of paper from the “settings” jar. Based on their setting and their available items, they have to tell you how they would use those 3 items to survive in their selected setting.  I have no doubt that boy and girls in this age range would be excited about this game!
  • Quote Detective: if you have any inkling of the client’s favorite book or series, this idea might be a big hit.  You open the book to any old page and read off part of a paragraph or scene (from that page).  It’s the client’s job to describe to you what has happened just before this in the book and what will happen right after it in the book.  You’ll get lots of language and they’ll get in the competitive spirit of being tested on a favorite read!
  • How-To Guide: Bring up a popular video game in conversation and claim that you really like to play it.  BUT, when you go to describe it to the client, describe it incorrectly (I would be verrrrrry good at this!).  I can pretty much guarantee they’ll be chomping at the bit to correct you (which will give you lots of complex language…we hope).
A Good Laugh, Just for Students

You Know You’re A SLP Grad Student When… #2

Dear SLP grad students (and anyone else who just wants to laugh and relive those golden years you spent in a master’s program):

You already know I like top 10 lists.  Did you also know I like top 3 lists?  Well..secret revealed!  For whatever reason, this spring quarter is proving to be the work/effort equivalent of the last 2 quarters…combined and on steroids.  Not only am I eternally stressed out, but I am surrounded by a cohort of basket cases (albeit hilarious, brilliant basket cases) 5 days a week (and sometimes even more if we decide to convene on the weekend and toast to surviving another week).  Today though, I had some funny conversations that inspired the next round of You Know You’re a SLP Grad Student When…

3. You Feel a Sense of Accomplishment When You Only Have 20 Unanswered Emails in Your Inbox:

It’s not that you don’t want to talk to people and catch them up on all the fascinating, amazing, glorious things you’ve been doing with your copious hours of free time…  It’s just that you have a new email-organization system now.  It’s called: “mark as unread.”  This is, quite possibly, the button that gets clicked most frequently in my inbox on a daily basis.  Since we deal with PHI in our UW emails, we have to keep that inbox separate from whatever our personal, non-school email is.  What does that mean?  2 separate email accounts to stay on top of!  My typical email interaction goes a little something like this: (1) open new email (2) read it and make a mental note that I reaaaallly want to respond to the sender (3) realize I don’t have time to respond to said email in the given moment (4) realize there’s not a chance on God’s green earth that I’ll actually remember to respond (5) click the glorious, “mark as unread” button, henceforth turning that email into a brand-new eye-catching message just waiting for my undivided attention.  Problem? When you return every email into an unread one, you just have an inbox filled with read-re-unread-ified emails.  Welcome to my world.


2. You Self-Diagnose on the Basis of Your Lecture Notes:

Let me paint the scene: you wake up to another morning of classes and clinic.  On a scale of “1 to sleep,” you have been falling somewhere around a 3 for the past week…and things aren’t looking up anytime soon.  You haven’t even made it out of bed and you already have a headache.  The nightstand light is your new nemesis and all hopes of “looking cute for clinic” go straight out the window.  Guess your poor little artic client will just have to see you in that black cardigan…again.  Upon standing (insert applause here for making it all the way out of bed), you feel a little dizzy and your arm is sort of asleep from laying on it the wrong way.  BUT, as you automatically start mentally reviewing your slides for the neurogenic disorders quiz you’re bound to have in an hour, you start analyzing…and overanalyzing…your morning cornucopia of symptoms.  Headache, sensitivity to light, numbness in one arm…HOLY MADRE DE DIOS, you’re having a freaking stroke.  You panic for a moment or two before regaining a glimmer of sanity: “Come on Hanna, a stroke?  At 24? That is soooooo irrational.  It’s waaaaaay more likely a brain tumor.  Or maybe upper motor neuron impairment…I was feeling a bit spastic and rigid just now.  Wait, I know…I have, um, you know…HOLY CRAP…anomia!  I’m gonna webMD this ish right now!”

This, my friends, is the double-edged sword of knowledge.  The more you know the better you are at your future job, and yet the more you know the more you start to convince yourself that you (or your roommate/boyfriend/cat) actually have every disorder that’s brought up in class.  Yup, even Moebius Syndrome.  Perhaps not all the time, but come on…I know you’ve at least considered most of them at some point in time.  Let’s get one thing straight though.  You probably don’t have a brain tumor.  Or Parkinson’s.  Or even a specific language impairment.  You’re more likely stressed out and overtired.  Welcome to the club (sorry, no welcome baskets in this club…we are on the “grad student budget” you know).


1. You Genuinely Begin to Consider How to Effectively Pull Off an ASD tantrum in the middle of a test:

It was a rough session for one of the clients at the UW clinic today…to say the least.  Autism with ODD, and he made it evident that he was donezo with therapy after 30 minutes in his clinic room.  I was in the computer lab with about 15 other classmates when all of a sudden, the halls were filled with the sweet, ear-splitting sound of a major meltdown.  Considering how exhausted we all have been, I was only 70% certain that the screams of temper-tantruming anguish were coming from the 5 year old.  A solid 28% of me seriously questioned whether they might actually be coming from the student clinician working with him-it had, after all, been an epically long day already.  Then there was that nagging 2% that it might be all in my head.  Had my lack of sleep this week really caused me to go that bonkers?  In the end, he screamed and cried all the way down the hall.  As I thought about the effectiveness of this meltdown as a potential exam-escape-tactic, a small part of me reeeeaaaallly wanted to go out there, high five him, and say: “Well played my friend, well played.”


Not to worry, there will undoubtedly be more You Know You’re a SLP Grad Student When… posts in the future. In the meantime, good luck in your classes and clinical sessions tomorrow…may the odds be ever in your favor!

Just for Students

Tips for Applying to Grad School

I’m going to assume that at least one perspective grad student has stumbled across my blog, so this post is for YOU! One year ago exactly I was in a post-grad-school-application daze, having (finally) heard from all the schools I’d applied to (yeah yeah, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition).  The journey to that point had been far from simple-my roommates at the time could attest to the stone cold fact that I’d been a total basket case for the few months leading up to the glimmering moment when I heard back from schools.

So, if you are a junior-going-on-senior in a speech and hearing undergrad program, or a post-bacc who will be applying next fall, here are some of my tidbits of knowledge to share about how to make the process of applying to grad school a little simpler:

  1. Think Looooooong and Hard About Where You Want to Apply: remember, you are not just attending school in this city/state; you are living there for at least 2 years.  You tend to hear from everyone that you sell your soul when you start grad school.  While this is true to an extent, you definitely will have some time to live your life if you prioritize well.  Make sure you consider the pros and cons of the city where you will end up living, because there’s nothing worse than having some glorious free time and hating everything around you that you could be doing with it!  Do you LOVE mountaineering?  You probably should consider schools within a 50 mile radius of a mountain.  Can’t live without the ocean?  Think east coast or west coast (best coast)!  Image
  2. Make Checklists: Ok, I admit that I love checklists and make them for everything, but I promise this will be your greatest survival tool through the application process (Katniss-Everdeen-style).  I think that the 1,837,429,324.8 hoops you have to jump through in finishing all aspects of an application are a way to filter out the weaklings from the strong.  You will need to complete the application for the official grad school AND also for the Speech-Language Pathology department (often this one has supplementary questions to go along with it).  You need to send official transcripts (usually one to the official grad school and another to your department).  You need to send GRE scores (barf). The list goes on and on.  Make a separate check list for each grad school and stick to it.  Call often to make sure things have arrived!  Who cares if you annoy the receptionist?  This is YOUR future!Image
  3. Survive the GRE’s: I scream, you scream, we all scream when we think about the GRE’s.  This exam is horrible, terrible, overwhelming, and required.  So get over it and get studying!  Unless you are a standardized test pro, this is a stressful step in the whole grad school application process, but I promise you will survive it (I did, so I know you will too).  I didn’t do a study class ($1,000…no thank you), but I did spend many a weekend at Barnes and Noble taking as many practice tests from the GRE study books as I could get my hands on. I didn’t actually write in the books, just sat with them and took practice test after practice test.  You will never memorize every word that shows up in the analogies section or every math concept, but you can “learn the test.”  All those practice tests helped me to pace myself and recognize which questions expected calculation of some sort vs use of a shortcut.                                                                                                                                           Image
  4. Read Up on the Faculty and Resources at Your Schools: Some schools have better access to certain areas of study than others.  Take the time to look at the current research being done by faculty as well as the types of clinics, hospitals, schools, etc. associated with the schools you’re considering.  If your heart is set on working on a cleft team, there are certain schools with more access to that than others.  This doesn’t mean that you’ll never get the opportunity at a different school, but you might have to advocate for yourself a bit more or seek out topics that aren’t explicitly taught by your faculty.                                                                                   Image
  5. Make Your Personal Statement PERSONALdon’t spend your precious space telling your dream school about how important ethical practice is, or the importance of evidence-based practice.  They know!  Trust me.  You have to remember that although you might know how awesome and amazing you are, the faculty reading your application probably don’t know you from a hole in the wall.  This is your chance to tell them about YOU.  Are you fascinated by velocardiofacial syndrome?  Tell them!  Do you have aspirations of developing an app for elementary kids with dyslexia?  Mention that!  Yes, you need to sound professional and intelligent, but don’t forget to sound like you and let your passion shine through!                                                             Image

None of these suggestions are fool-proof, but hopefully they can help to set some of your stress at ease.  I wake up every day feeling blessed to be a part of the University of Washington’s grad program, but I have not forgotten the anxiety and effort that went into my applications.  Trust me though…you’ll make it, and undoubtedly become a fabulous SLP!