10 Tips for Speech Pathology University Placements
As a soon to be Speech Pathologist, you’ll have already spent your time working through course content, learning important concepts and completing (many) assignments. But now you’re at the stage where you’re preparing for Speech Pathology University placements. It’s an exciting, formative, and nerve-wracking time!
To help you prepare for your placements so you can walk through the door feeling confident and assured, we’ve put together a list of our ten best tips from experienced clinicians who’ve been in your shoes.
10 Tips for Speech Pathology University Placements
#1: Set Clear Placement Goals
Before you begin your placement, it’s important to take some time out to reflect and set your goals for what you’d like to achieve. It can be helpful to consider the COMPASS model when reflecting on the experiences you need to (or are yet to) have if you’ve taken part in placements previously.
By having clear goals, not only will you feel more prepared and confident going into the experience, but you’ll also be able to provide your Clinical Educator (CE) with useful information that will help them to make your placement as valuable as possible.
#2: Get Organised
There is a lot to keep track of while you’re on placement, so do yourself a favour and get organised. In the words of our Townsville Speech Pathologist, Zia, “do a really solid Officeworks run!”. In all seriousness, it’s worthwhile making sure that all of your orientation documents are printed and signed before you show up to placement. Getting a binder to contain any reading or placement-related documents can be helpful in keeping you on track.
#3: Keep Track of Your Clients
One of the most challenging aspects of being a student on placement is keeping track of the many different clients you’ll be supporting. Generally, you’ll be given a huge amount of information in the first day/week that you’ll need to remember to effectively support all your clients. This information is gold, so you’ll want to make sure you keep it filed safely and in a way that will be easy for you to reference. Alison, one of our Mansfield Speech Pathologists, recommends using the ISBAR summary structure for keeping organised notes on each of the clients you’ll be working with.
#4: Find Evidence to Support Your Work
One of the professional standards that Speech Pathologists must adhere to is providing services that are supported by evidence, otherwise known as Evidence-Based Practice. You will have learned about this in university already, and now that you’re on placement it’s time to put that learning into action. We’d recommend taking some time out before your placement to brush up on the latest research and evidence-based therapy interventions to make sure you’re prepared for what’s ahead. By following and discussing evidence-based practice with your clinical educator, you will come across as more professional and will ultimately provide a better service to your clients.
#5: Be Flexible
As much as we’d recommend doing your research and getting familiar with certain therapy approaches and assessments, there is something to be said about being flexible! Your clinical educator and other colleagues on placement will likely have years of experience with the population you’re working with, and so will also have recommendations that you should take on board and learn from. Be flexible and be proactive in sharing your therapy plans and asking questions to continue refining your professional skills. But in saying that, you also have the most up to date knowledge from doing your degree so recently so if you find that your Clinical Educator or others on the team aren’t using evidence-based practice, don’t be afraid to have a conversation with them – we’re all still learning!
#6: Remember Self-Care
With all the excitement of travelling to a new location, meeting new people, and getting an opportunity to practice your Speech Pathology skills in real life, placement can also be a pretty overwhelming experience. Sometimes our placement experiences can cause us a little bit of stress, and we may come across situations or client experiences that affect us deeply. This is why it’s so important to maintain your usual self-care routine while on placement – doing things that make you happy and calm in your own time. It’s also important to keep note of your mood, and how you’re coping. If at any point you feel as though placement is becoming overwhelming and you need support, reach out to your university counselling services or perhaps have a discussion with your CE.
#7: Present Yourself Professionally
Did you know that at SpeechEase Speech Therapy, we provide Clinical Education to university students in Queensland? When we asked our team about tips for Speech Pathology placements, one of the things that came up time and time again was professionalism. If you present yourself professionally on placement, it’ll serve you well into your career. The people who you meet on your Clinical Education experience could very well become your colleagues (or employers!) one day!
#8: Know Your Learning Style And Communicate It!
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your Clinical Educator on placement is to know your learning style and be clear and confident in communicating it. Knowing how you learn best (and receive feedback) will not only help you to build your clinical skills, it will also help your clinical placement experience to be the best it can be! At the end of the day, you’re on placement to learn, so getting familiar with your learning style will serve you well.
#9: Work On Your Social Skills
As a student, you won’t have a lot of experience working with clients in a clinical setting. This can be daunting, but if you can remember to focus on building rapport early and frequently, you’ll be just fine. Being personable with clients comes before knowledge! If you don’t form a natural relationship, it makes your therapy delivery 10x harder. If someone feels comfortable, they’re more likely to be supportive if you take extra time doing something or need to step out to ask a question.
#10: Be Early, Be Ready
Our final tip is simple, but it’s important! As a student on placement one of the best things you can do is to be a master of time management. That means being early (which is really on time!) to your placement, submitting your therapy plans early, and sharing your reflections or questions early. The more you can communicate (verbally and through your actions) how prepared you are, the better.
Well, there you have it, you’ve got plenty of tips to see you through your upcoming Speech Pathology placements! If you’re keen to learn more about working in private practice, take a look at our Careers page.