Our first pair of speech pathology students – Jaimie and Lizzy – have now finished their placement with Wollongong Speech Pathology. It was a dream having them on board with us. I loved talking to them about clients! It was brilliant to have two extra people involved, giving input into clients’ assessment and treatment plans. They developed unique resources, and helped me to start evaluating some of my services. Several of our clients were sad to see them go. On a personal level, I loved mentoring these students. It is an honour to be part of someone’s early career.

Obviously it is not all smiles and easy. I found myself up late at night reading draft reports and commenting on session plans. Sometimes things did not go smoothly in a session, which meant extra time mentoring the student, and extra time reassuring the client. One client decided that working with students was not for them — a choice which is totally acceptable — but again this meant extra time behind the scenes to figure it out. So the major theme here is TIME. For all of us, time is precious. I work in private practice so that I can work flexibly, and spend as much time as possible with my family. Any time spent on clients, students, or the practice is time away from my two gorgeous kids.

You may not realise, but I receive NO payment to take speech pathology students. I do it because I enjoy it, I think clients enjoy it, and I want to help create a strong future speech pathology workforce.

For now, the warm glow I get from working with students is worth the extra time involved. I will be keeping an eye on this, and making sure I get the work-life balance thing right.

Do you have any comments about working with speech pathology students?