Traveling SLP

Traveling SLP

I have found myself becoming more and more intrigued by the idea of building a tiny home and traveling across the country after graduation. Realistically, the best way to continue enhancing the clinical skills obtained in graduate school and complete my fellowship year while traveling, not to mention pay my bills, would be to become a traveling speech language pathologist. I searched through my podcast library and found The Traveling Traveler’s in-depth review of being a traveling SLP on Conversations in Speech Pathology.

What types of agencies could you work for?

As a traveling SLP you are required to make connections with recruiters, who will in turn work with agencies on your behalf. While recruiters are able to find agencies with assignments across any specialty in speech pathology, some agencies are becoming more specialized to ease the job hunting experience. In addition, larger recruiting agencies are able to pay more for the job placements that are advertised in frequently sought after cities and specialty clinics, versus smaller agencies. Some agencies are:
Advanced Travel Therapy
MedTravelers
Allied Travel Careers

What type of assignments are available?

Job assignments are temporary fillings that company’s are requesting SLPs for. This could be due to maternity leave, medical leave, or simply a transitional period between full time employees. That being said, job placements can be found anywhere in the United States, even in Hawaii. These placements range across the board from nursing facilities, acute care, inpatient rehab, home health, schools, and outpatient clinics. Schools are among the most popular assignments available to choose from. California is often looking for traveling SLPs, while states like Florida have a high influx of SLPs and are generally only offering positions in schools. Some states have ethical concerns that you may want to research further, such as Texas and Massachusetts.

How much do you get paid?

Assignment pay ranges by city and facility in which the job is located. In addition, the take home pay is impacted by the benefits that the agency is offering, such as health care, student loan reimbursement, and paid time off. Lastly, the agency may also receive a portion of the company’s designated salary for the position, reducing your take home pay.

Pros

-Assignments are about 13 weeks long, allowing you to travel to new places and change your work flow as often as you’d like.
-Time off between assignments is completely up to you, giving you the freedom and flexibility to continue your travels
-Some agencies offer incentives, such as a free Caribbean vacation

Cons

-While cost of living is somewhat considered, speech therapy sessions remain at a somewhat stabilized cost across the medical field. This affects a company’s ability to increase your salary, while rentals increase around you. This is particularly important in high cost of living locations, such as New York City or San Francisco.
-Cost of certification and licensing is most often up to the SLP. This means you could be faced with the strain of requesting licensing in multiple states, paying fees, paying renewal fees up to $200, and fees for any addition state required CEU courses. Something to consider if your take home pay isn’t what you expected after graduating.

Let’s see what the future holds for us!

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How to Ace Your College Interview

How to Ace Your College Interview

I have recently been invited to participate in the interviewing process for admissions into a Speech Language Pathology graduate program. As I begin to prepare for this next step in my journey, I have been researching skills that are beneficial during the interviewing process.

Tips
Below are some general tips and suggestions to help with the “behind-the-scenes” prep, so to speak. These are the skills, behaviors, and research that will help build a strong portfolio of answers during the interview.

  1. Arrive 30 minutes early to the facility, and at least 15 minutes early to the reception area to sign in.
  2. The first impression lasts 7 seconds: have a strong handshake, good eye contact, a genuine smile, and confidence.
  3. Do your homework about the school, the mission statement, and program details.
  4. Ask a closing question that cannot be found in the school catalog/manual.
  5. Dress professionally and conservatively so as to not distract from your answers and work ethic.
  6. Have a closing statement to summarize yourself as the perfect candidate, ask about the next steps, and send a thank you note within 24-48 hours.

Common Questions
In this next section you will find some questions that are often asked, and some that have been reported by current graduate students. In addition, following the question are suggestions for how to formulate your answer. It is highly recommended that you begin practicing your answers in a mock interview, or in front of a mirror, to become comfortable saying your answers out loud.

  1. Tell me about yourself. This is the most common, and perhaps most daunting, question that could be asked in an interview (or anywhere for that matter). Learn how to talk about yourself by highlighting your personal, professional, and academic accomplishments that have impacted who you are today. You may also include some of your interests outside of academia, as long as they are appropriate.
  2. Why are you applying to this program? Answer with the program strengths that intrigue you, as well as your interest in the faculty members and their research.
  3. What are your strengths? Demonstrate at least three skills with the Show-and-Tell method: describe your skills with stories that support those claims.
  4. What are your weaknesses? Identify your weakness and the steps you are taking towards improving this weakness.
  5. What is something that excites you about the speech field? While it is not common to receive questions about the specifics of speech disorders or vocabulary, it is recommended to review some current news and research articles in the field.
  6. Where do you see yourself five years from now? Outline your career path and goals that are related to the speech field. You should also show how this school’s graduate program will be helpful in achieving those goals.
  7. What was the last book you read/movie that you watched? This question is often seen as a curveball to get to know you outside of your academics. Choose  books/movies that represent your persona, without being inappropriate. Mention a thought-provoking book/film over a horror or chick-flick.
  8. How would you respond in a situation where…? Behavioral questions have become more common in interviews. Use an example from your past to demonstrate your personal experience and accomplishments in a similar situation. Include details to set up the scene and do not forget to finish the story with results. The recommended strategy to use is the STAR method: situation, task, actions, and results.

If you have any additional tips, leave a comment below!

 

USPHS

USPHS

United States
Public Health Service

I know I said I wouldn’t discuss the military, but I am just blown away by this information, I had to share! If you have never heard of the Public Health Service, then we aren’t that different. Until last night, I had no idea that this was one of the seven uniformed services in the United States, and accounts for 6,500 medical professionals working in federal agencies across the country. It blew me away because I served five years in the medical field in the Navy and was not aware that this was another avenue to serve. So why is this all so important? Because the U.S. PHS accepts Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists.

How is it different from the military?

The Public Health Service is still a commission corps similar to the military in that there is a base pay by rank, health insurance through Tricare, retirement after 20 years, and tax-deferred incentives such as a sustenance allowance (BAS), a housing allowance by location (BAH) and retirement savings (TSP). In addition, members must wear a uniform and are deployable. However unlike the military, deployments are short and usually driven by disaster relief or agency needs. Depending on your agency, you may only be responsible to respond to disasters during your designated time of the year. Lastly, moving is optional and you are only required to serve two years, after which you can withdraw at any time.

Do I need to be prior military?

Prior to applying to join to PHS, you do not need any military service. Upon selection and hire to an agency, you complete a 14-day Officer Basic Course training in Rockville, Maryland to review military customs and bearing, career development, and useful resources.

If you do have military service, the PHS will accept individuals with less than 8 years of service, and this time can be added towards retirement.

Benefits

As mentioned before there are many military benefits that are applicable to those in the PHS regarding pay, healthcare, and retirement. In addition some benefits include:
– Loan repayment potential
– 30 days of paid vacation per year
– 84 days of paid maternity leave and 10 days of paternity leave
– Access to military bases, flights, and shopping

Who is this a good fit for?

This avenue of service would most benefit SLPs who are looking to have a career with a medical focus and increased opportunities in the administrative sector of federal agencies. In addition this would be a good fit for individuals that want:
– Job security
– Paid relocation for new job opportunities
– To help when man-made and natural disasters occur
– Positions in federal agencies, such as the VA medical center, National Institutes of Health, Indian Health Service, Air Force bases, etc.

Here is an example of what your career could look like as an SLP in the Public Health Service: CAPT Mercedes Benitez McCrary.

Lastly, keep in mind that it takes about a year following application to have records reviewed and processed before you can begin applying to agencies for possible positions. This is a lengthy board approval process and requires Presidential Appointment. If you have the time and passion, this would be a great fit for you.

New in Research

New in Research

As I mentioned in my bio, I would like for there to be a segment on this blog that offers some information on the research being done in the speech and hearing sciences field. While I know you will miss my humor and candor from my journey posts, I promise this section will also offer some wonderful insight into the research being done, in addition to giving you some good talking points during graduate school interviews. I always have your back.

1. The History of Stuttering by 7 Years of Age: Follow-Up of a Prospective Community Cohort
In this study of 144 children who stuttered by age four, 65% of the participants showed to have recovered by age seven, with only 28% of participants seeking help or advice. These findings suggest that stuttering may not require intervention as it can be resolved naturally.
A moment of stuttering was classified as:
-a repetition of words or syllables
-prolongation of sounds
-‘stoppages’ or ‘blocks’ without sound
The participants were evaluated annually with a questionnaire reviewing the child’s development, in addition to family and home environment factors. The children were also evaluated in person at ages 4, 5, and 7. The results of the study showed that there may be a correlation between language ability and recovery from stuttering, especially in girls with stronger communication skills at age 2.

2. Architecture of the Suprahyoid Muscles: A Volumetric Musculoaponeurotic Analysis
In this study, the suprahyoid muscles necessary for swallowing were divided into 3 groups: anteromedial, superolateral, and superoposterior, and digitally assessed by volume. The purpose of the study was to compare the muscles with another and to determine how the fiber bundle volume impacted the stage of swallowing. The results showed how the muscles moved the hyoid suggesting that the balance between these muscles outweighed the individually functions of the muscle. This data can be used to modify the current rehabilitation techniques being used for swallowing disorders, as they are currently only focused on one group of muscles and not the rehab of the suprahyoid muscles as a whole.

3. The Relationship Between Iron Deficiency Anemia and Sensorineural Hearing Loss in the Pediatric and Adolescent Population
In a study done on patients being seen at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, in Hershey, PA, there was found to be a correlation between iron deficiency anemia in children and sensorineural hearing loss. SNHL is characterized by damage to the inner ear disrupting the transmission of sound waves to the brainstem. SNHL is usually often the result of poisoning from medications, genetics, trauma, or illness and is a permanent form of hearing loss that requires corrective surgery. Iron deficiency in children is usually caused by prematurity, significant blood loss, poor dietary intake, and those who are exclusively breastfed.  This affects the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as negative effects on development, learning, and long-term memory.

The possible relationship between SNHL and anemia is due to the anatomical connection between the vascular system and the nervous system of the inner ear, making it more susceptible to SNHL. The blood supply to the cochlea is dependent on one artery making it susceptible to damage. Lastly, studies done on animals with iron deficiencies have also shown cochlear changes, damage to the inner ear cells, and reduction in nerve fiber protection.

The Dreaded GRE

The Dreaded GRE

Today we will be discussing one of the major hurdles between your undergraduate studies and becoming a certified speech language pathologist — the GRE. The Graduate Record Examinations, or GRE, is a (often) required exam prior to applying to a graduate program, much like the SAT is for high school students applying to college. While I am no expert by any means, I do have a few tips to prepare you for the exam, especially if you are cramming it in between the hundreds of other things on your To-Do list.

Writing

The writing section is the first section of the exam and probably the most stressful as this is important for speech pathology graduate programs, and so I will be focusing on that. This section consists of two essays, one issue (persuasive) and one argumentative task. This is a positive as the most strenuous task is completed right off the bat before you tire out, but can also be a negative if your mind does not move past your performance to prepare for the next five sections that follow.
Pro tip: what’s done cannot be undone. Thanks Lady Macbeth.

1. Timing
Both essays are to be completed within 30 minutes. I repeat, you will only have 30 minutes to complete a fully cohesive and fluid five-paragraph essay. Please work on your timing by TYPING your essays and proofreading for any mistakes, as spellcheck is not provided.
Pro tip: Time each paragraph and move on when you have to. It is better to have five paragraphs with beginning, middle, and end, than a clearly unfinished essay as this shows time management issues. I would recommend 1 minute to read the prompt, 4 minutes to make a bullet point draft, 3 minutes for the intro, 5 minutes for each body paragraph (3 total), and 3 minutes for the conclusion. This leaves you with 4 minutes for proofreading and touchups.

2. Pros and Cons
For the persuasive essay, you should include two pros with supporting data, as well as one con to your stance. This shows that you are able to keep an open mind and see the other side’s argument. However, make sure to include why your stance diminishes the opposing point. Please do not pick a con that you cannot argue against, as you are just setting yourself up for failure.
Pro tip: Review persuasive argument topics with a partner so that you can hear their thoughts as well. Two brains are better than one and this gives you more ammo on test day.

3. GRE WORDS
I cannot stress enough how important it is to include the GRE words into your writing, but make sure these are used as naturally as possible. For that reason, I would recommend writing essays and noting which words are commonly used in your writing, and perhaps come across as average. Swap those out for GRE words and memorize your new words by incorporating them in your every day speech, in your next writing practices, or even just rewriting them over and over. Whatever you have to do to ensure you are using at least 15 of these words. I used the same words for each essay, but it would probably be best to use 30 words altogether.
Pro tip: Here is a list of GRE words that are essential for the verbal section anyway, my short list on Quizlet, a podcast that I highly recommend for learning new words, and below are the words that I used on my own GRE writing section.

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4. Argumentative Essay
I wish I could give you more info on this section, but it is basically a statement, or ad, and you have to find the logical fallacies in the statement and essentially edit the argument. Once you understand and practice the logical fallacies, tip #1 and #3 still apply.

I would highly recommend the studying service Magoosh as they offer a bunch of videos on the different topics on the GRE and practice exams that are actually scored with the GRE algorithm. I scored 3 – 4 points higher than what Magoosh was estimating my score would be. I think this has a lot to do with the level of difficulty Magoosh prepares you for, in addition to some test day “confidence” from practicing often. Please note, the writing portions are not graded but the prompts are helpful, and the sections are still timed (see #1).
Pro tip: Magoosh often does a $99 sale on the 6-month package. If you email them and mention this promotion, they will honor it!

5. Practice, practice, practice
Once you have a baseline score (easy to determine if you do get a studying service), study  the topics in which you are lacking, and then take practice tests. This helps with timing, and further pinpointing of the areas that still need review. Magoosh includes video explanations for each question, like your own personal tutor. Review each video, even the ones that you answered correctly, so that you are able to see the “GRE thinking” behind each question, and hopefully will in turn help your timing.
Pro tip: I studied for 8 hours, then took practice exams twice a week, reviewing the answers each time. The last week, I took a practice exam every other day, sometimes even twice a day if I was focusing on just one section (simply complete all of the quantitive or verbal sections, and Magoosh will score that specific section for you). Altogether I studied about 30 hours before taking my exam, resulting in a score of +1 writing, +4 verbal and +8 quantitive above the minimum required score for my top choice school.

Good luck and happy studying!

 

#VeganFestNYC

#VeganFestNYC

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Aside from speech, another health science that interests me is that of nutrition and dietetics. Lately I have been interested in the connection between nutrition and the prevalent diseases and disorders in today’s society, stemming from the research in a book about the GAPS diet. The Gut and Psychology Syndrome, or GAP Syndrome, is the basis behind the book and research by Dr. Campbell-McBride on the effect a diet has on the state of one’s digestive system. Based on her research, Dr. Campbell-McBride believes a diet of healthy probiotics, good fats, vitamin A, and digestive enzymes and nutrients are essential for the natural treatment of illnesses, such as autism, ADD, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, depression, and schizophrenia.

Beginning in the birth canal, a newborn infant will receive its first mouthful of bacteria from its mother’s digestive track, creating its gut flora. Within the first 20 days of life, an infant’s gut flora will begin to establish itself for the rest of its life based on the mixture of bacteria presented to the baby. Abnormal gut flora, usually caused from the mother’s abnormal gut flora due to diet or yeast infections, will create digestive issues in the child, such as cramps and gas, and develop into colic, which should strike as a major concern. Furthermore, an unhealthy gut flora will compromise the immune system, causing infections primarily in the ears and chest, constant bouts of colds and fevers, and begin the development of allergies and eczema. Antibiotics are introduced to cope against these infections, but instead wipe out the beneficial bacteria in a child’s digestive tract, which can take from two weeks to two months to fully recover. While the beneficial bacteria are absent, pathogens increase their colonies in the digestive lining becoming a source of toxicity in the body. The toxins are then emitted into the blood stream, clogging the brain and this is when mental problems begin (Campbell-McBride, 2010).

This research continues to influence my lifestyle and approach to nutrition, in addition to being a potential avenue for which I myself would like to conduct research in as a speech language pathologist. I find it to be very interesting that there are areas in my client population, such as autism and dyslexia, that could potentially benefit from this research. Due to this, I am expanding my knowledge about the health benefits of different diets, specifically a plant-based diet. A plant-based diet is based on fruits, vegetables, and excludes meats and fish, dairy products, and eggs. I decided to commit to this diet five months ago, and have seen a difference in my overall well being, digestive health, physical appearance, and even mood swings. It has been quite the journey, but there is an incredible amount of information available for finding meal substitutes, in addition to health and environmental benefits that act as motivators. Some resources that have been especially helpful are blogs like Hot for Food and From My Bowl, and the Netflix documentaries Fork Over Knives and What the Health. I highly recommend everyone to begin to research what they are mindlessly putting into their bodies; it will completely change your perspective.

Event Recap: Walk4Hearing NYC

Event Recap: Walk4Hearing NYC

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This past weekend, the Hearing Loss Association of America hosted the Walk4Hearing in NYC’s Riverside Park. The Walk4Hearing “increases public awareness about hearing loss, eradicates the stigma associated with it and raises funds for national and local programs.” The members of the National Student Speech, Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA) chapter on campus created a team, raised money by hosting a bake sale, and participated in the walk together. And as you may have guessed it, I was on that team.

Upon arriving at Riverside Park, a west end park by the Hudson River, one found a large mass of people gathered in matching t-shirts, with running children, and dogs on leashes advocating for hearing loss. There were teams using sign language with one another, neighborhood building teams wearing “he’s my hEARo” shirts, and lots of college teams present. It was a heartwarming vision of unity, excitement, and commotion. Sounds exactly like family.

In addition to the amazing set up for checking in and registering, there were tables with Walk4Hearing t-shirts, balloons with anatomical hearing terms, and FREE food. I have never been to a walk with a variety of food and drinks available to the walkers before and after the event at no cost. This was definitely helpful as most of us lazy/broke college students did not eat breakfast that morning and needed a pick-me up due to the unusually hot autumn day.

As we continued to explore the different tables set up promoting hearing loss awareness, we found the table of MED-EL. Right away the representative introduced himself, showed us the models of sleek cochlear implants in black and gold designs, and then modeled his own for us. Why MED-EL? Well according to the website and pamphlet, their cochlear implants, for hearing loss due to damage in the cochlear hair cell’s ability to transmit sounds to the brain, are innovative, safe, and offer better sound quality. The implants are able to detect sounds in a wider noise level range, whereas others focus mostly on speech sound decibels. To put this into perspective, speech sounds and conversation are usually present between 50-60 decibels, while the world around us ranges from 0 to 180dB (more than 90dB calls for protective measures). With the MED-EL technology, you have the ability to sync with other devices, participate in water activities and sports, and hear sounds in an adaptive sound window of 55dB, accurately processing inputs from 25 to 100dB.

After being absolutely blown away by the proficiency of the design and technology, the representative finished off by telling us about the Spotify playlist available to listen to music with the cochlear implant, the first time he has been able to listen to music. He also told us about how he just heard the sound of a beating heart, and gave us a sticker of an elephant (with the cochlear implant) now able to befriend the soft-sounding mouse. If your heart isn’t full right now, I don’t know if we could be friends.

The walk was an amazing opportunity to gather with one another, learn about the different innovations in the audiology sphere, and support hearing loss awareness with those in the community. Then we ended the 5k walk with popsicles; what more could you ask for?