In 2013, I wrote a post titled Where Graduate Programs are Lacking. It really pained me to write that post; I’m a firm believer that those of us who have been in the field for a long time should give back to the young ones just starting out. I really had lost faith in a nearby university’s graduate program. I am ecstatic to now say that my faith has been restored.
I questioned myself about having unrealistic expectations, of having set my expectations too high. I spoke with my principal at the time & other SLPs who were supervising students. My principal told me not to lower my standards; my colleagues assured me their interns were performing to the standards I thought they should have been.
So, what is the difference? One thing that may make a difference is when an intern completed undergraduate studies in Communicative Disorders. I believe that makes a big difference; I think it gives them a good foundation on which to build.
Another thing that may make a difference is the personality. Some people are just wired to be good with children, and to have good instincts when it comes to modifying activities when a child is having difficulty with a task.
I will say this: I think that graduate programs should be up front with their students. The instructors in the university programs should have a sense of what kind of therapists the students are going to be. They need to have the guts to tell those students that speech/language pathology may not be a good fit for them. They need to tell them before too much time and money has been spent. You would think they would do this before they get out in the field; it’s not going to look good on the university if someone gets out in a setting to do her practicum and doesn’t know what she’s doing.
I don’t expect my interns to be perfect; I expect them to ask questions and accept constructive criticism to want to become a good therapist. I expect them to have a good foundation with their discrimination skills, and to have common sense when it comes to developing activities for their students. I also expect them to be aware of the students’ performance and know that something needs to change, even if they aren’t sure exactly how to go about it.
Most of all, I expect them to come to me with a new-found love of what they’re doing, as well as an excitement to help my students. And ask questions. Lots of questions!