My masters degree program is comprised of three parts. All of the coursework is done online, via live Abode Connect chats with the professors and my classmates. The second part is an in person, 6 week "Bootcamp" at Western KY University in Bowling Green, KY where we worked in their Communication Disorders Clinic seeing clients. The third part (that happens while we are still taking classes) is the 3 local externships that we secure ourselves and attend for 40 days each, under the supervision of an ASHA certified SLP.
Bootcamp kind of served as that segue between being a classroom student and a "practicing in the real world" student. The name is apt, because we were all thrown together onto a team, from far corners of the earth (no really, someone came from Morocco), with no idea what we were doing for the most part and all came out of it changed.
|Our supervisors did have better "personal space" skills.|
For me, it was also the first time I had been away from my home & family for such a long time. I had to leave my kids behind, with my husband and the babysitter responsible for everything from breakfast to bedtime, hair brushing to sunscreen application, endless My Little Pony marathons to endless sibling bickering. Yup. It might as well have been a spa vacation!
|OK, so maybe I haven't had too many real spa vacations.|
Oh yeah, I did learn some stuff about speech therapy, as well.
|Sadly, Bill and Tom's conversations seemed to go nowhere.|
|What it feels like to be watched behind one way glass.|
I can't say I was totally prepared for my first externship. First of all, each setting (I have done a public elementary school, a private speech clinic and a skilled nursing facility) has its own guidelines for paperwork, lesson planning and client contact. Each setting has access to different materials and requires different levels of planning and creativity. It's really been in that externship process that I have found myself as an SLP. But I don't think a traditional campus clinic setting would have been much different. It's really merely a taste of what's to come.
I walked out of the Bootcamp experience like a person who just jumped into a freezing cold pool. Shell shocked, wondering what just happened and a little embarrassed at the end results. But some of those big hurdles had been conquered...like talking to parents, meeting a kid for the first time, overcoming a child's reluctance to speak, working with a nonverbal child. Which gave me the confidence to jump over more hurdles in future settings.
|Or trip over the hurdles.|