Saturday, June 22, 2013

Professional Issues Class Post 9: Bootcamp

The assignment: Our Web 10 students are coming to Bootcamp next week.  Think back to that time for you.  How did it or didn't it shape you?  Residential or campus students don't have an intensive training period like that. Is that good? Are there some aspects to intense clinical training that are better?  Do you think that you might have learned as much or more throughout the process had you been a traditional student?

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.
I lived in a studio hotel apartment, got to wake up and get ONLY ONE person ready for the day.    I came home to a quiet room that was in the exact state in which I left it.  I went out every Thursday night with my friends for drinks and dinner.   We hiked the caves, we formed our own Hotel HotTub Club, we shared meals and lots of laughs.  It was amazing!  

Oh yeah, I did learn some stuff about speech therapy, as well.  

Sadly, Bill and Tom's conversations seemed to go nowhere.
In that short month, we had to review files, create lesson plans, write up daily SOAP notes, prepare behavioral management tools, familiarize ourselves with assessments, work in teams, work in pairs, track down our supervisors for feedback, interact with parents...oh yeah, and hang out in a room with a kid for 45 minutes while being observed through one way glass and attempting to "therapize" said child!   Actually, the kids were the least scary part of the process. 

What it feels like to be watched behind one way glass.
SLP students at a traditional graduate program will pick up 1 or 2 clients over the course of an entire semester.   There are some pros to the intensive immersion program. With Bootcamp, we were constantly under pressures of deadlines for lesson plans and treatment summaries and assessment reports.    With only 3 clients (2 of which had both group and individual therapy), I felt like I was always running around, prepping or writing paperwork.   I wondered how on earth I would manage a caseload of 50!   I didn't have the time or resources to print ideas of Pinterest, so I had to learn quickly how to use what we had in the clinic to make the most of my therapy sessions.   I had to chase down supervisors to answer questions, which I have learned is very typical of the real world.  I would rush around behind the scenes getting ready and then appear composed when I walked out that door to meet my client.  When taking over a client for a classmate, I sometimes ended up with back to back to back sessions, so I had to plan early for the entire morning.    Sometimes I desperately needed blue construction paper and all we had was green, so I had to switch gears and change my craft from the ocean to a tree!  It was crazy, hectic and busy, but very much like the average day of an SLP. 

However, one major con to the intensive program is that we didn't really get to see much change over the course of the month.   We were just finishing up treatment plans when we needed to start working on our final summaries.  For one child, it took the whole month to get through a PLS-5 assessment (and the language sample, oral exam, hearing screen, etc) and I had no chance to work on the goals I had to write for him.    Bummer, dude!

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 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. 
Of course, now that I am externing all day and coming home to a messy house, loud kids, an empty fridge, piles of laundry and a profound lack of a hot tub...I am definitely missing Bootcamp!   

No comments:

Post a Comment