What is it like to have a speech pathology placement in private practice?
This guest blog post was written by a speech pathology student, Sarah El-Wahsh. Sarah completed her final speech pathology placement with us in August 2017. She gives us some great insights into a placement in private practice….
Learning beyond the lecture
I recently completed my final clinical placement at Wollongong Speech Pathology. My time in the beautiful coastal city of Wollongong working alongside my supervisors (Beth and Di) and my peer was such a memorable experience. I was fortunate to be exposed to a diverse spectrum of caseloads in a variety of settings. Experiencing firsthand a range of speech pathology practice areas (stuttering, voice, communication, speech, swallowing) in the private and public hospital system, in nursing homes, and out in the community at school and clients’ homes, has helped me better understand my areas of passion. Exploring these different caseloads and settings was so valuable, especially as I am on the cusp of graduating.
Out of my comfort zone
This placement in private practice was sometimes steady and easy-going. At other times it was challenging and brought me out of my comfort zone. One of the challenges I faced was that sometimes staff preferred to speak to my supervisor rather than me, a student. I overcame this by doing my job confidently, to the best of my abilities. As I built relationships with the staff and demonstrated competence they thanked me at the end of my sessions and this was very encouraging. At times, it was challenging to balance a demanding workload with managing household chores, as my peer and I lived away from home. However, the people we met in the community warmly welcomed us, and were always keen to hear about where we are from and our profession.
One of my favourite things about this placement in private practice was teamwork. I see such a strong value in working as part of a team. Working in a mobile clinic means a lot of time is spent travelling between places! This was an opportunity to enjoy the picturesque scenery of the Illawarra. It was also an opportunity for much discussion about the speech pathology world. We were constantly bouncing around ideas and asking challenging questions to benefit our clients.
Great relationships & client outcomes
I believe there is great value for students to have adult clinical placement in private practice. Whilst it may not offer the demanding fast paced environment of the acute setting, the opportunity to see clients regularly allowed me to develop a relationship with clients through long-term support on their rehabilitation journey. My peer and I were able to provide several clients with extra sessions. This is a great way to increase their practice; as well as to help us students improve our clinical skills. As University students, we were also able to transfer contemporary knowledge and the research evidence we’ve learnt to our supervisors. Running quality student placements takes time and effort on behalf of the supervisors. I am very grateful for my supervisors’ support. They inspired me to stretch myself as a clinician and to genuinely care for and enjoy the opportunity to work with clients.
Ready to graduate
It is exciting to look back at this journey and to see how I have navigated it. This placement has provided me with a strong foundation to approach future challenges and complex caseloads I face as a speech pathologist in the workforce. I look forward to work beyond University and implementing the abundance of skills I have learnt along the way.