Friday, January 04, 2008

They don't tell you that in grad school

In grad school they give you the romanticized idea that you are joining this wonderful professional world of speech-language pathology and swallowing disorders. They convince you that you really want to help people and that your way of helping them is by helping their speech, language, swallowing, voice, or fluency disorder. You get training to treat these disorders, still believing you truly want to help people. Most people don't truly get what a speech-language pathologist (SLP) does. Most people think an SLP helps kids who can't speak clearly or who have lisps. SLPs work in hospitals and make recommendations about what type of foods patients should eat, they do swallowing studies to make sure patients don't have food and liquids going into the lungs, they help clients who want to get rid of foreign accents, they work with babies in NICUs, and evaluate speech and language disorders in all age groups (Jack of all trades, master of none?). So when you go to grad school you have to learn to do all of this stuff so you are qualified to work in all of these areas. When you actually make it through grad school, it is quite an accomplishment because you have learned parts of so many different fields (there is a joke among SLPs that "everything is a speech issue"). Like I said before, you set out into the world desiring to help people. What they don't tell you in grad school is that you will be working with real people. Real people who have real issues, behaviors, and attitudes. Real people who will do anything do get what they want. Real people who were taught that they are entitled to have anything they want and if they don't get it then they just need to complain and fight harder. In grad school they don't tell you about the stress of the job, the paperwork, the high burnout rate, or the people out there who are willing to take you to court just to get what they want or feel entitled to.

I really love my job and I truly want to help people. I love working with the kids and most of my parents are wonderful. Unfortunately there are those few that completely ruin it and make me want to switch professions. Yesterday I had a parent accuse me of lying because she was mad about the lack of services her son had received for the past few months. Of course this is not my fault at all and I just walked into a bad situation. She wanted someone to target and unfortunately it was me. I was really upset at first but then I calmed down and remembered that I did nothing wrong. I am just dealing with an upset mother who just wants what is best for her son. She is going about it the wrong way but she only has the best intentions. So having said all of this I feel much better. Who knows what will happen but I know I did the best I could and that is all I can do.


At 9:27 AM, Blogger Beccalynn said...

I only have one thing to say: you need to move out of the Philly area. People aren't like that everywhere...and yet you will find it everywhere, just not in such a high concentration. Especially school parents in that area feel SO entitled and expect things to be handed to them just because they blessed the earth by walking on it. It makes me sick. I haven't encountered any of that in my new school. People are just so down to earth and real here. Not that it doesn't exist, mind you, but I haven't seen it and this is the first time I haven't caught wind of it anywhere. Not from faculty room gossip, not from my experience, not even much from in-services where they generally warn you about that. It's just not a big deal here. Move away from Philly. They're all snobs.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

Nina, I'm so sorry. I kind of know what you mean......kind of. There used to be a joke at the church where I used to work that "we love's the PEOPLE we can't stand." Now obviously, that might be why that church is,well, DYING, but I think that attitude could be transplanted to just about any profession that requires human interaction. People are messed up, and unfortunately, we have to deal with them. I felt that way about social work on some days. Like, "This would be so much easier if we didn't have to deal with these PEOPLE!" Not very logical, clearly, but it's an easy way to think.

I'm sorry you're having this push into reality. I'm sorry you're seeing things you never anticipated or expected. And I'm sorry you're feeling a little disillusioned. I guess the best thing I can tell you is to remember why it is that you chose to be an SLP, and think about those people who make your job precious and lovable. Try not to focus on those things and people who make it bad. There will be those in any job and in any city in the world.

I hope that's not insensitive to say.........

At 1:32 PM, Blogger laura said...

whoa, becca..... where's the mind of Christ in your comment?

i would have to disagree with your generalization... there are some wonderful people in the philly area.

i would have to say, that on the contrary, most people that i run into on a day to day basis are down to earth.

just be careful with the generaizations...just a few months ago you were in the philly area.

please don't take this comment harshly, but i just read your blog in response to Nina's...and then your comment here...and was just taken back a bit.

...besides, should we just run from adversity and snobishness anyway? just some food for thought.


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