How can I be an expert SLP for every patient I see?

Posted by Karen


Hi, I work in a hospital setting where I see adult acute care, acute in-patient rehabilitation, and out-patient clients.
I feel as if I can give good therapy to anyone I come across, but not necessarily be an expert in EVERY area for EVERY diagnosis at EVERY level that surprises you through the door.
I’m wondering if others out there in similar work settings feel similar…….

Thank you so much

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2 Responses to How can I be an expert SLP for every patient I see?

  1. Donna Frownfelter says:

    I am a PT not a SLP but i think the same comments would apply to all our our interprofessional team. We need to know how to be safe, then to know how to assess properly so we can be progressive and try to help all our patients reach great functional outcomes and goals. I think in the comment you made it was clear you are assessing your skills and for the most part feel you are doing a really good job with your patients in several different settings. None of us is an expert in every area for every diagnosos and patient level. We do the best we can and then consider does the patient need more than I can deliver? If that is the case do we refer to someone with a particular area of expertise that the patient needs? That is not a failure as if we are generalists and doing a good job we need to know what we can do and when the patient should be referred or have a consult with another healthcare professional that could look with a new set of eyes and experience.
    Sounds like you are doing a really good job and have to deal with various settings which sure isn’t easy!
    Donna Frownfelter PT, DPT, CCS, MA, RRT

  2. Martha Phillips says:

    I am an OTR and I agree, that being a generalist in acute care can present unique complex cases with which we are not familiar. Doing the best we know and consulting with others is imperative. Figuring out precautions and determining priority in what functional treatment can be given or cannot be given has to be done often before there is a conclusive diagnosis or CT or lab work on the chart. Thank goodness we can change goals & update our treatment plans based on what may change medically. I appreciate the department I work in because there is a comraderie amongst all the therapists, OT, PT, SLP whereby we are not embarrassed to say to each other that we need some help in figuring out where to begin at times. I am 53 yrs old and have been working in this hospitl 12 years. (I graduated in 1992) The department I am at has a mix of at least twelve older therapists with the same sort of experience that I do. Sharing information helps us to grow professionally and as a team to deliver the services that the patients, families and doctors expect & desearve. Being not afraid to give one another positive feedback or constructive criticism helps the team to improve. Communicating effectively with nursing is so important (can be harder when it is a different nurse or agency nurse who doesn’t usually have your patient, or they just got that assignment that day – they DO value the expertise of the SLP. Sometimes our SLPs will mention how much training they need to provide, and to repeat to the nursing staff & family & then will follow up on that)Patient safety & quality care is everyone’s shared responsibility. Having younger therapists in our department helps us older ones to improve our own perspectives on developing treatment. I do feel similar to “Boston Strong” that I cannot be an EXPERT with every patient I come across, but that is OKAY. The day we don’t recognize we each have knowlege limitations is the day we will stop learning. I commend you on the skill set you do have and your ability to “provide good therapy to anyone (you) come across.” and your willingness to explore that feeling, because it is what makes you look inside yourself, want to know more, then learn more and grow professionally & personally. I also agree with Donna, the PT who said that is “not a failure” to recommend a referral, or to consulting with a healthcare professional that has a new set of eyes; in fact, in my eyes it is a strength to know your own limitations, then take that as an opportunity for a learning experience. Every situation and every patient is different. Keep up the good work, I know because of what I have learned from our SLPs & PTs–I have become a better OT.

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