Helen recently found this article from the Dabbling Speechie. Felice wrote about 5 mistakes you make in your first year. So we thought we would continue this idea and think of the 5 things we wished we had known when starting work as a speech and language therapist.
We both started work for the NHS. Although things have changed quite a lot since we qualified, many therapists in the UK still get their first post in the NHS. We will be writing soon about the differences between being self employed and working for the NHS. But today, I am thinking back to my first year as a Newly Qualified Therapist or NQP.
- It’s OK to ask for help. In my first job, I was on my own 4 days a week and only saw another therapist 1 day a week. It was also before we had reliable email and computers. So I remember saving up my questions for that 1 day a week , but then not wanting to ask too many in case it looked like I didn’t know what I was doing! It is really fine to ask questions and also to ask for help. Never be afraid to ask for a second opinion on a client you are working with or tell someone that you feel out of your depth.
- Learn how the education systems work in your area. Try and do this straight away. Especially if you are working in a clinic or school. You need to know how to refer children to education, if there are panels and when these sit. You need to know when reports have to be submitted by and if there are language or learning resources/ centres or special schools in your area. It is really easy to miss these deadlines and then a child could be waiting for a long time before they have the opportunity again.
- Targets The hours I spent worrying about targets! Especially for children who need to work on a number of areas. Just remember that if you picked 3 very skilled therapists and showed them a child’s assessment, the chances are they would all write slightly different targets. ALL the targets will be good and appropriate, its just that we all target slightly different areas first. It is also fine to change targets if the child hasn’t achieved them or is finding them tricky. You may need to break the target down into small steps or think about how to support the child to achieve it. So not only is it fine to change targets, it can be the best thing to do!
- Use social media This is something we didn’t have! I would have loved to have had access to Facebook groups, Pinterest and Twinkl when I was first working. In fact it is one of the reasons Helen and I started this website – having the support and ideas of hundred of therapists across the world, whenever you need it! Make the most of this, especially if you don’t get to meet other therapists that regularly. If you want to know more about using social media, read Helen’s post here.
- You will survive and be a better therapist at the end of it! Although we learn all the theory and have placements at university, it still doesn’t prepare you for running your own caseloads and being responsible for your first clients. Your first year feels like it’s sink or swim. It is tough, but you learn so much and will be a better therapist at the end of it!