As I mentioned last month, you can specialize in 3 different areas of Speech Language Pathology and 1 area of Audiology, which more specialty areas coming. Specializing requires continuing education. The bad (or good) news is that whether or not you specialize, continuing education is a requirement.
After six years or more in school. you feel like you are ready to conquer the world. The reality is that you don’t learn everything you need to know in school.
Much of our learning comes from our jobs, from working with a variety of patients or clients and from our colleagues or supervisors.
The reality is that we learn the basics in school. We learn the foundation of what we need to know while we’re in school. We learn based on evidence and published material at that time.
Through the years, evidence changes. New research is published and finds that a technique we once thought worked, doesn’t work like we thought it did. New research finds new techniques that works for some patients to improve their fluency, articulation, language or swallowing.
When a student completes the required schooling for speech pathology, completes their Clinical Fellowship Year and applies for their Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC), you are also agreeing to uphold the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) code of ethics. One principle is: “Individuals who hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence shall use independent and evidence-based clinical judgment, keeping paramount the best interests of those being served.”
There are several ways to keep current with recent research and best practice.
- Read journal articles. There are several journals that are published through ASHA which are accessible through your ASHA membership. You also have the opportunity to join 1 or more of ASHA’s Special Interest Groups (SIG). There are currently 19 Special Interest Groups available to ASHA members. For a small fee, joining a SIG allows you access to ALL journals available from the SIGs. Many of these journals can be read with a test at the end to help you earn continuing education hours.
- Attend live continuing education courses. There are several companies that host live courses. These range anywhere from 1 day to 1 week, depending on the course. Most companies offer a wide variety of courses. Often you will receive fliers when a course is in a city close to you. You can also visit the company websites or follow companies on social media to find out when courses will be close to you. Some companies that offer live courses are: CIAO Seminars, Northern Speech Services, Vyne, Procourse CEUs, CEU Allied Health and Ampcare to name a few.
- You can attend state conferences or the ASHA National Convention. ASHA holds an annual convention every November. The city for the convention varies each year. This year the ASHA Convention will be held in Los Angeles. Most states also hold a state convention which is a smaller scale convention and usually less expensive. ASHA also holds a smaller convention every July called Connect that is also offered in a different city each year. Whether you attend a national conference or a state conference, there is typically a variety of speakers and topics offered, along with an exhibit hall where you can view materials for sale and typically purchase these for a reduced price.
- If you don’t want to travel you can also complete continuing education online. CIAO Seminars and Northern Speech Services both offer a variety of courses that you can purchase and view online. You are able to download the course slides and references, view the course and take the test, then print your certificate of completion. You can also use a subscription service, meaning you pay a yearly fee and have access to a large library of courses covering a large variety of topics. SpeechPathology.com and MedBridge both offer subscription services with many courses covering a variety of topics.
Each state will require a certain amount of continuing education. It is important to know how many hours of continuing education is required and the amount of time. ASHA certification requires 30 hours of continuing education every 3 years.
The important thing to remember is that you will always learn in Speech Language Pathology.