Future SLPs…..Can You Work in both the schools AND the medical/clinical world? Yes, you can!
When I started out as an SLP in 1984, I had not decided whether I wanted to work as a school-based SLP or as a hospital-based SLP. Those were basically the two choices. Several of my colleagues had decided one way or the other. I absolutely loved the medical part of our practice. However, I am the daughter of two school teachers, so the school system is a place where I am totally comfortable and to which I gravitated. Now it is 2013 and I still have not made up my mind which side of the fence I am on! Guess what….it is OK not to make a firm decision. I have practiced in both venues my entire career (add to that list private practice and home-health). Currently, I work full-time for the local school system and per diem for our local acute-care facility. As many of you probably know, each site requires a very different skill set. There are pros and cons to both. Before I list the pros and cons for each type of work, I will tell you this: Working as a medical/clinical SLP gives you knowledge that transfers to the school setting and enhances your skills as a school SLP. Having said that, here are the pros and cons for each setting.
The School System
Pros: A steady paycheck. Benefits that are unbeatable in terms of quality and cost. Lots of vacation built into your schedule.
Cons: Paperwork. Work overload. Undervalued as an employee.
The Medical System
Pros: You can negotiate your pay rate. Flexible scheduling. Workload is not nearly as overwhelming as the school caseloads. In general, I find that medical folks have high regard for what I do.
Cons: I can’t think of any, frankly.
So, how do you do both? It makes for longer days, but it can be done if you are in close proximity to all of your sites.
If you can swing it, I highly recommend doing both. Please feel free to ask questions!