Sam’s Student Lounge

Sam's Student Lounge is the place to be! Read about the life of speech-language pathology graduate student, Samantha Weatherford, and see what's on her mind.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

By Sam Weatherford


I have always had a deep-rooted disdain for collaborating and working in groups. I never played team sports and was not one for board games growing up. I would consistently pick playing with Barbie by myself or reading a book over interacting with my peers. Two younger brothers meant that I rarely had to share, and as the oldest, I often called the shots.

School was not much better. Nothing made me squirm more than a group project. I would pout, shun my partner, and quickly take over the task when a teacher asked me to pair up. I was always of the mindset that others were not going to be as accurate, detailed, or fast as me. You want something done right? Do it yourself! (Are you sensing that I might be a bit of a control freak? Have you ever heard of a Type-A SLP? Never!)

I found in college that most professors really do not care who does the work. They do not want to hear about your martyrdom or listen to you complain about inattentive teammates who talk about weekend plans while you work. Professors are not impressed that you did a whole project alone; they think you are acting like a selfish baby if you grumble about it. I had passive-aggressive thoughts when I came to this realization such as, “Well, I will only do my third of the project, and everyone else better get with it!" This did not go over well because it tends to cause angry, festering feelings among colleagues.

I consistently learned about collaboration as an SLP. Interacting with other SLPs, audiologists, families, school and hospital professionals, patients, and a boatload of other people was about to become a part of my everyday life. Imagine the horror I experienced. Teamwork? Every day?

That is when I realized I needed to put on my big girl shoes and get over it. I am by no means perfect, as it turns out. I do not have an endless supply of creativity, energy, ideas, and I am not an island. Working as a single person and isolating myself as a professional is exhausting. I started actively telling my supervisors that collaboration is a clinical goal of mine, and while I am still learning and growing as a teammate, I have found that the load is a lot lighter when you realize your peers and colleagues have the same goals as you. Your colleagues have great ideas, I promise! Not everyone is a high school student trying to get out of doing work. Patients will get the most optimal services if you talk to the other people working with them.

So if you are a control freak working on becoming a healthcare professional, take a step back and ask: how are my collaborative skills? What are some steps I can take to improve? Your patients’ welfare is the highest priority, so if you read this and recognize yourself, maybe it is time to make a change.


Friday, June 29, 2012

By Samantha Weatherford


I was recently asked on a phone interview, “What do you like to do outside of speech therapy?” Oh. My. Gosh. What do I like to do? I have no idea.

I have been studying speech-language pathology (SLP) for the past six years, and two of those six have been nonstop SLP. I am good at speech therapy and I am not good at a lot of things, so I really need to take advantage. I eat, sleep, and breathe SLP. My friends are speechies. My role models are speechies. I only take SLP classes. I blog about SLP. I attend SLP conferences. I watch movies like The King’s Speech and Children of a Lesser God. I read books like Look Up for Yes and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I love being an SLP student.

Unfortunately, I do not even know what normal things I like to do anymore. Since classes have ended and employment has begun, I can see some kind of light at the end of the insane grad school tunnel. I want to share that hope with you.

Students are sucked into a bizarre lifestyle. We are doing something constantly. If I am not doing something, I am probably asleep. I worked a million jobs as an undergraduate student, joined organizations, and took night and early morning classes. Throw homework and studying on top, and you have got yourself a packed lifestyle. I have always found time for friends, family, and general troublemaking, and it is important to do so, but that only adds to the stress and obligation. You suddenly find yourself doing homework at 6 a.m. for an 8 a.m. class because you wanted to see your grandmother over the weekend.

Less is expected of you in graduate school outside commitments, but that is only because the time spent working extra jobs and joining clubs is now all-speech-therapy-all-the-time. We naively thought in my graduate program that we had Fridays off. HA. What were we thinking? No, that is not a day off it is a day for research, diagnostics, paperwork, community screenings, and projects. Day off? Good grief!

Graduate school takes over your days, nights, weekends, and holidays. I was driving with expired license plates for six months. When on Earth was I supposed to go to the DMV between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a weekday? There really is no such thing as a day off in graduate school. Even if you get a little time away, you are thinking about school or doing school-related things.

I have realized, however, this amazing thing happens once you are out of school. You get to have dare I say it a life. You get to go to work and come home from work, and that is it. I mean, hopefully you are a functioning member of society and you do other productive things with your time. But for all intents and purposes, work that is your main commitment.

That means you have all of this time on your hands. You have weekends! And holidays! And the time after 5 p.m. is yours! You may do with that time what you wish. You even get crazy things like paid time off and sick days. I never took a sick day in graduate school. I just went to class feeling disgusting and miserable because I had to learn about aphasia or perish trying.

The moral of the story? Start thinking now, in case someone asks you, about what you like to do outside of being an AuD, SLP, or deaf education student. I am really terrible at anything athletic, but I love to read, watch movies, be outdoorsy, eat, drink, and make merry with my family and friends (sometimes I even hang out with nonspeechies). I told my interviewer I like doing what any other 24-year-old likes to do, but to be fair I am not sure any of us has time to figure that out.


Ms. Weatherford is a second-year, speech-language pathology graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Sam’s Student Lounge:


Fighting the Fluff


By Samantha Weatherford


I have been pondering what to write for my first blog post on The Hearing Journal’s website for a few months. Literally, months. Would I lie to you? No, I would not. Seriously, months!

When the editor asked me to write for The Hearing Journal in February, I was so excited and honored, but then I remembered, “I am a speech-language pathology student. Why would The Hearing Journal want me?” Then I felt sad because I would have to tell her the truth and risk being shunned. My speechie ways would be sent packin’. I was assured, however, that SLPs read The Hearing Journal. Whew!

Flash forward three months, and I am sitting in my mom’s apartment (I do not have Internet access in my studio apartment — whatever) staring at a blank Word document. The Hearing Journal has been waiting patiently for me to get my act together, and all I have is a blank page and a blank brain. This is my brain on grad school.

I wanted to write about, at first, why AuDs and SLPs should be best friends. I probably will sometime in the future, but I recently attended a conference and have been in contact with professionals in the field. I always come out of conferences with epiphanies, and I have some realizations to share. You should go to conferences, too. Your brain will hurt, but it is totally worth it.

What I want to tell you, students and professionals alike, is to be critical thinkers. Associations at the local, state, national, and international levels are in kind of a panic right now, as I understand it. Professionals do not want or cannot afford to be members of associations on top of their licensure and certification costs. They certainly cannot find the money to attend the conferences put on by associations. When professionals do not join associations, they do not have any money. As my youngest brother says, “No monz, no funz.”

Associations that do not have money cannot pay the big names in the communication sciences and disorders field to come speak at their conferences. Attendees, on the flip side, do not want to spend money on a convention with no reputable presenters. It is a classic Catch-22 situation. This is where we need critical thinking.

Associations still want to have conferences, and obviously professionals need CEUs and want to attend, but we need presenters and lecturers. Every year there are calls for papers, which are bombarded by top researchers, grad students like me doing their theses, and people trying to sell their products. National associations have a little more oomph and can weed out the good from the bad. Some associations, however, are really hard up for strong convention presenters. We are now seeing an influx … of poor presentations.

What makes a presentation bad? Things that are not legitimate, meaning they have no data, references, evidence-based practice, backing by professional organizations, or position statements. Basically, it is filled with fluff.  

I am telling you this because, from what I see, this is happening more and more. If you find yourself at a presentation like this, I want you to step back and say, “What are they telling me? Do I believe this? How would I use this in my practice and with whom? Is there more to this than what they are presenting?”

I think it is easy to get sucked in and think, “Oh, this is really cool!” The presentation topic could be the greatest thing in the world but listen and analyze. Ask yourself if it is evidence based, and what kind of evidence is being presented. Do not let yourself be sucked in by the cool factor.

A strong clinician, AuD, or SLP is someone who is detail-oriented, analytical, and intuitive. Go with your gut, and do not be afraid to raise your hand and ask questions. Get all of the information before you start implementing it into practice.

How should we combat this modern-age trend? Submit your own papers! I think my teensy pilot study thesis has more research beef to it than some lectures. Encourage your peers, colleagues, coworkers, and professors to join associations, attend conventions, and present. We have to stop the snowball effect that is plaguing our professions and get quality lectures and information disseminated. I think it starts with students, who may be more inclined to continue if they get involved early.

Anyway, my posts in the future might be like this and they might be more ridiculous. You never really know. I hope you got something from this, and please feel free to contact HJ if you have any questions about this article, getting involved, my life, grad school, what it is like to raise two rodents, or about the time an old man poked me in the forehead at Kentucky Fried Chicken.


Ms. Weatherford is a second-year, speech-language pathology graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield.

Friday, May 18, 2012

If You’re Under 80, It’s Time to Join Twitter!

By Samantha Weatherford

“Last call for Sunday dinner. If I don’t hear from you via Facebook or phone by 11 a.m. tomorrow, I’ll take that as a no.” That’s a direct quote from my Grandma. On Facebook.

      My Grandma, Dee, is 76. She unplugs the computer when it freezes up. (Dee, seriously, stop that.) She always thinks someone is hacking her account. She doesn’t want a phone with a camera. And she is one of my most favorite humans on Earth.

     She Facebooks. She “likes,” comments, posts, tags, shares, LOLs, calls my mom her BFF (best friend forever). She is a Facebook machine. A champion of Facebook, if you will.

     She is 76. She uses Facebook. Did I mention she’s 76?

   When I attended the American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s convention in November 2011, ASHA-goers (all of whom are younger than my grandmother) who noticed my “I Tweet” sticker had various reactions:

     • Camaraderie: “You tweet? Me, too! What’s your handle?”

     • Judgment: “Oh. You tweet.” (Accompanied by “the face.”)

     • Awe: “You tweet? Coooool!”

     • Confusion: “You tweet? What’s a tweet? Have I been twitting and didn’t know it?”

      But they, and you, can tweet! It is not so hard! I promise.

      When I got on Facebook in 2006, it was about collecting friends, like Pogs or Pokemon (gotta catch ’em all!). Who has the most friends? Who has the most tags? Who likes the best bands? Who has the funniest quotes? I think it has a stigma so people have generalized this time-suck to all social media. But this is an outdated view, and it pigeon-holes you as out of touch when you say you’ve never heard of “the Twitter.” While social media can still be used for silly, superficial functions, it and other sites can be used for so much more.

     Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Hipster sites, blogs, ASHAcommunity are all used to facilitate sharing, educating, learning, and (you communication sciences and disorders [CSD] professionals should like this one) communicating.

        Maggie McGary, ASHA’s social media guru, helped get all the #SLpeeps and #Audpeeps (people who use social media to share CSD information) in one area of the convention center for the annual Tweetup. We didn’t do anything earth-shattering, but it just goes to show that social media is slowly but surely proving that it can bring people together. We as a profession support communication and interaction! We are all “coo coo for cocoa puffs” over apps and AAC. So why are we so scared of other technological avenues for communicating?

        The advent of smartphones, iPads, netbooks, WiFi, and goodness knows what else has made using social media as easy as a simple touch. With one finger. The tip of one finger.

        I want to challenge all of you to use social media in some way this year. Advocate. Connect with your state or national associations. Advertise. Find a common ground with a client. Get to know a #SLpeep. Share an interesting link. Then maybe next year we’ll see you at the Tweetup!


Ms. Weatherford is a second-year, speech-language pathology graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield.