★ In Retrospect

Every once in a while, I find myself writing in new places. Yesterday was one such day. I wrote my first ever article for ASHAsphere, the official ASHA blog. I wrote a piece I called A Handful of Post-Graduate Retrospection. It was a lot of fun.

One of the hardest things about any new endeavor is getting started. Everyone has to start somewhere, and much as we would prefer to think otherwise, the best place to start is at the beginning. Much as I don’t want to admit it, I hated starting at the beginning. But I did it (and I’m glad I did it), and here’s a handful of things I’ve learned so far.

I would be honored if you go read it. If you already have, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

For new readers, welcome! Though I rarely have comments open on this site, I still welcome feedback and love to interact with you all. My favorite way to interact is on Twitter. Shoot me an "@ reply" and I always aim to respond. I also welcome email correspondence. If you would like to receive the articles I post here via email, you can subscribe from the sidebar to the right. If would like to subscribe via a feed reader, you can click the link above that says "RSS" or just click the link right here.

★ New Year, New Goals

A lot of changes are afoot for me right now. I'm rotating from a primarily neuro caseload to one that incorporates more trauma and surgery. I'm excited to learn new things, and to have the chance to learn more about ENT aspects of speech pathology.

I have other goals as well, listed in no particular order:

  • Simplify my computing experience - I have come to the conclusion that I was at my most productive when I had only one device to work from. Having spread myself too thin, I long for that simplicity. My ideal set-up might be to have one home base computer (iMac) and two peripherals to be mobile components (iPhone and iPad).
  • Turn my iPad into a laptop replacement - The original iPad was the first product I ever purchased on the day it was released. It was my last semester of grad school, and I bought it as an early graduation/post-comps gift to myself. It quickly replaced my laptop in my bag, and I found myself using it to take notes in class and even write some assignments. Also, my current third-generation iPad is actually a more powerful computing device than my trusty old iBook G4 (still my favorite computer I have ever owned).
  • Write, write, write - I think about a lot of things. Since October 15, I have made it a point to sit down and write at least once a day. I haven't missed a day since, and plan to keep it up for the foreseeable future. My next step is to write more on this website. As far as what I'll be writing here, I think it will be a mix of speech things, resources I find useful, stories I like to tell, and technology I like to use.

I'm looking forward to the year ahead. It should be interesting, challenging, and fun. And I hope that at this time next year I look back and think about how much I learned and grew, and how much more I hunger to know.

★ This article prepositions the following...

I spent much of my day today catching up on paperwork, and specifically was working on reports for some outpatient clients I had seen for video swallow studies. The challenge of this task? Not writing in telegraphic speech.

It would appear that my time spent in inpatient acute care has done horrible things to my grammar.

★ Writing About Writing

Back in graduate school, I used to think I did a lot of writing. Writing notes for class, working on short essays and term papers here and there, writing lesson plans for clinic (and then, of course, rewriting them) and then writing SOAP notes after sessions. I remember hearing at some point that I should get used to all the paperwork, because it would become a big part of my life, but like any good graduate student, I laughed it off and instead imagined a glamorous, paperwork-free career ahead of me. It's now pushing two years since I graduated with my Master's degree, and I've discovered that writing is not only a big part of what I do, it's a really huge part. Everything we do, it seems, requires documention.

Can this be overwhelming? Absolutely. Is it necessary for us to do all this writing? I've come to believe that, yes, it is vital to what we do. I also believe that good writing applies to any setting we find ourselves.

So who benefits from all this writing?

  • We do.

    As an acute care SLP, my caseload varies significantly from day to day. I do a lot of assessments, and sometimes only work with patients one or two times before they get discharged. Other times, I work with a patient one day, then won't be able to see that same patient for another day or two. Having good notes about each encounter re-orients me to each patient, and serves to assist a memory that is greatly overwhelmed with memories of sessions and evaluations.

    My fellow SLPs who work in outpatient and skilled settings can use notes to track session objectives and activities, and maintain progress. The same goes for private practice and educational clinicians.

  • Our patients/clients do.

    They may never read them, but should services need to be transferred to another clinician or location for any reason, good documentation can help that new clinician pick up therapy where they left off. It's a win for both the client and clinician.

  • Other professionals.

    In my case, I work regularly with doctors, and they rely on my notes for monitoring patient status and discharge planning.

The list goes on.

Over the last few months, I grew curious about just how much I actually write on a daily basis. I've taken to writing my notes in Microsoft Word (not my first choice for word processing software, but the only one available on my work PC, unfortunately), and have taken note at the end of each day of the total word count.

On an average day in February, I wrote somewhere in the vicinity of 1,000 words. In March, I noticed that that number had risen to closer to 1,500 words. Doing some rough calculations, that breaks down as follows.

  • Words per day: 1,500
  • Words per week: 7,500
  • Words per month: 30,000

This means that, in the space of less than two months, I have written enough words to fit a novel that satisfies the constraints of National Novel Writing Month.

All this writing is tiring, certainly, and sometimes when I try to write a blog post here, I find I'm worn out and unable to do so. It's the nature of the beast, however as I have gotten more accustomed to New Job, I have found that writing is slowly getting easier.

I have embraced clinical writing, and with time have noticed that it steadily improves along with my clinical skills.

This is a good thing, and gives me hope, because there is much still that I want to do. I just have to remember to be patient and let things happen in good time.