From the classroom to the clinic- a new graduate’s perspective

From the classroom to the clinic- a new graduate’s perspective

As a new graduate’s perspective, there is one BIG question that you get asked as your university graduation looms- “Where are you going to practice next year?”. Luckily for me, my response was simple. I completed my final block placement at Queensland Paediatric Allied Health on the Gold Coast (QPAH) and knew that I wanted to join the team from day one. QPAH is a family/client-centered, neurodivergent-affirming practice that provides speech therapy and music therapy for kids and adults. We work closely with families to set goals that are functional and meaningful to their everyday lives. We work closely in joint sessions with an array of allied health professionals for kids including Music Therapists at QPAH, and external Occupational Therapy and Behaviour Therapy clinicians. By working collaboratively, Gold Coast kids receive holistic support across multiple areas of need.

After waiting patiently for QPAH’s employment offer, I accepted it with great happiness. Waiting for my contract to start in January of 2022, I did all the usual newbie preparation: buying a trolley for all my resources, raiding target and kmart for toys and stickers, and emptying my printer of ink to print out every handbook and Teachers Pay Teachers resource I could find. Albeit, I didn’t actually need any of those things, I couldn’t contain my excitement to create fun and exciting sessions.

Then January arrived and I received the names of my first clients. I began learning to balance admin work with session preparation, coupled with urgent report writing. It was a huge learning curve, but one I felt incredibly supported in at QPAH. As the weeks and months began to fly by, I put faces to client names and my relationships with clients grew stronger. I began to learn that positive clinician and client relationships were at the crux of my practice. I learned which clients like which toys, what their dog’s name is, what they placed in their school swimming race, and which episode of bold and beautiful my adults were currently watching. Although on the surface these pieces of information seem irrelevant to speech pathology, they were the key to building strong relationships- which would foster positive participation, persistence, and a pathway in which to re-engage in therapy when difficult tasks arose.

As I became more confident in my interpersonal abilities, I also found my clinical skills to become more proficient too- though I have much more to learn and will continue to learn and grow throughout my career. This has been supported by the consistent weekly supervision provided by QPAH’s Speech Pathology Director and Senior Speech Pathologist, Hanna Bowler. Weekly supervision was a big factor in why I strived to join QPAH.  Alongside supervision to better my clinical knowledge, I have also been incredibly lucky to engage in external evidence-based professional development- which has been hugely beneficial with not a day gone by that I haven’t implemented the skills I learned in these courses, in my practice.

If I had any Speechie advice for future new graduates, it would be to advocate for yourself (classic CBOS 7!) and organize your time wisely. As a new graduate, it is easy to become overwhelmed when you’re finding your feet, so it is imperative that you take time to prepare for sessions appropriately, complete tasks in a timely manner, be open to new opportunities but also be aware of your commitments and how much you can truly balance while still ensuring quality work. Ultimately, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

In reflection, QPAH has been a wonderful workplace that has allowed me to find my feet as a new graduate speech pathologist, whilst also supporting and guiding me to increase my capabilities as the year progresses. I look forward to 2023 at Queensland Paediatric Allied Health, providing Speech Therapy to Gold Coast kids!