Early career speech pathologists likely want to attend as many professional development (PD) courses as you can. Once working, you find that there is not enough time or budget to complete all of the PDs you want to feel super confident across all areas of the job.
This can lead people down one path or another when picking which courses they would like to attend.
Early career speech pathologists often choose the PD based on three key factors: caseload, confidence and cost.
Generalist caseloads means generalist training is required. Some caseloads are both adult and paediatric. This means the early career speech pathologist will often need to choose a number of PDs to cover the therapy approaches across the lifespan.
As a generalist paediatric speech pathologist, there are lots of different areas to upskill in. This is why you consider which areas you are least confident in.
Clinical placements at university greatly impacts the early career speech pathologist’s confidence. So does the induction process at your new workplace. Shadowing more experienced clinicians can help build your confidence in different therapy approaches because you can see theory put into practice. When this option isn’t available to you, attending external PD will help you buildyour confidence. The therapy sessions that stress you out the most will likely be impacting your confidence. Pick a PD to upskill in this area of practice.
The costs of different PD courses may also influence your decision-making process. Sometimes you can get cheaper courses online versus in-person. This might help you stretch the budget a bit further so you can attend more PDs.
Other factors for selecting certain PDs
Other factors that may influence your decision to choose one PD over another include:
- Picking a PD related to an area of practice you are interested in and want to grow your knowledge in that one area.
- Deciding to attend PDs that relate to your new caseload.
In this blog, Ashton Moncrieff, early career speech pathologist at TalkHQ shares her opinion on the best PDs for early career speech pathologists working in paediatrics.
The Lidcombe program
The Lidcombe program is one of the best PDs for learning about the treatment of childhood stuttering. As a paediatric speech pathologist, having a child who stutters on your caseload is almost inevitable. Speech pathologists officially trained in The Lidcombe Program understand the ins and outs of providing families with stuttering therapy.
It’s an evidence-based therapy approach that targets disfluencies in children’s speech. More importantly, it teaches crucial parent/carer training skills that can be transferred into all intervention strategies. These aspects include how The Lidcombe Program instructs clinicians to complete home practice summaries during sessions and having parents demonstrate how they are practicing at home.
Sounds Write (or another type of literacy PD)
The number of clients presenting with literacy difficulties surprised me as a new graduate. My university degree didn’t focus extensively on literacy. By attending the Sounds Write PD early in my career I had the knowledge and confidence to see these clients. I found I wasn’t scared off by something new.
Sounds Write is systematic, evidence based, and easy to implement with all aged children having difficulties reading and spelling.
(Side note, if you want more information about how kids typically learn to read, check this blog out).
The best PD on something you already enjoy
My third recommendation isn’t a specific one. It’s more a piece of advice. Don’t forget about the area of speech pathology you love working in most!
Let’s be honest, we have areas of speech pathology we don’t enjoy as much as others. Mostly because we’re more confident in some areas than others. Therefore, we might tend to disregard PDs on areas of practice we already enjoy and feel confident in. Among all the new knowledge you’re learning from the other PDs, try and complete one to grow your skills in your favourite area of practice.
This might include online lectures or just taking time to further research. Evidence and strategies are forever changing and evolving. We may feel more confident delivering therapy that we enjoy. However, our training in this area may not be the best.
In the early years of your career, remember to pick PDs on areas you love. This means your favourite area of practice continues to progress.
Lastly, learning so much so fast in the early years can be overwhelming so remember to keep it fun and allow yourself time between PDs to implement and practice your new skills.
by Ashton Moncrieff and Julie Sexton, Speech Pathologists at TalkHQ