sound practice in action
Posted by Erin Smith on February 11, 2014 12:02 AM
Support – Help – Acknowledge – Respect – Encourage
Writing an inaugural blog for Speaking of Which is an unnerving yet thrilling honour. Karen approached me to write for her because she believes in me… as a clinician, professional and as a team member. This caused me to pause and reflect on the importance of being surrounded by people who support, help, acknowledge, respect and encourage. People who S.H.A.R.E move us forward in our lives – personally and professionally.
Imagine that you have just finished an incredibly challenging assessment or treatment session. What is the first thing you do? The first thing I do is find a willing colleague and debrief about the experience I had. I have the pleasure of working in an environment with other Speech-Language Pathologists, Audiologists, Early Interventionists, Physiotherapists (PT) and Occupational therapists (OT). Chances are good, that they have had similar experiences and will not only listen, but may add examples from their own practice to support our decisions or ask questions that may inspire us to take a different perspective. It doesn’t seem to matter what profession the colleague belongs to, we all share similar celebrations and challenges. Having the support of colleagues is one of the greatest contributors to my job satisfaction and career growth.
Now, imagine that you are about to see a client for therapy and you are at a loss for an exciting therapy idea to target ‘food’ vocabulary (for the 28th time). Who do you turn to for help? Where do you go? My next favourite team is my ‘virtual’ team. I have made connections with professionals (such as yourself) who have a wealth of creativity and have willingly shared those ideas through discussion groups, forums and websites. I have never physically met many of you, but the desire for accessible information and materials drives you to share and help professionals such as myself.
I believe what makes a person an integral part of a team is self-reflection and the ability to acknowledge one’s own strengths and ‘needs improvement’ areas. Although I have been working for over a decade and I am familiar with many of the resources in my geographic area, there are times when I consult with my team members to ensure that I can provide all of the information and resources to a family. We can’t know everything about everything. But if we know our own resources, we know where to find that information. Sometimes, I have an “off” day and I know it, I try to brush myself off and address any lingering concerns with my team (colleague or family).
Respect is crucial as we strive to work together to improve the lives of individuals, families and communities. We have to respect ourselves – knowing our value and worth in our profession is important and we should not undervalue our skills and knowledge. Respect for each other is essential to maintain the integrity of our professions. Speech-Language Pathologists acquire training that is diverse and is dependent on where they trained and what continuing education they have chosen to attend. Because of this, we all bring to the table a somewhat different approach. I have to respect the fact that although I may not practice the same techniques and strategies, it doesn’t mean that I am right and they are wrong… it is different… I respect that, and I learn.
At the end of the day, something makes us want to wake up and go to work again. We are encouraged by our team members who confirm our decisions or invite us to try something new. We are encouraged by our clients and families who make progress or give us positive feedback. I am encouraged when I see parents ‘buy in’ to the approach I present and are motivated to participate in the process of changing communication behaviours.
Speaking of which, sharing seems to be the common thread in my success with teams. We each have something to contribute. Some days it is more than others. One day I might be a listener, one day I might contribute by sharing information. Today, I shared my time and materials by opening my ‘food folder’ and cutting out a pizza craft for a colleague who was rushing off to a therapy session. I did this because I had materials that my colleague could use to have a successful session. Sharing our time, knowledge, ideas, experiences and respect is key to creating successful outcomes for all..
As I wrap up my first blog entry, I encourage you to SHARE what moves you forward in your professional career!
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KAREN MACIVER LUX