Hi Stephanie, care to share a little bit about yourself?
My name is Stephanie or Steff. I was born and raised in Manila, Philippines! Currently, I am a full-time Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) in Los Angeles, CA. I graduated from California State University-Long Beach in 2019 with my master's in Speech-Language Pathology. I love to read, take daily walks with my family, and create SLP related content on my speech Instagram!
Can you tell us what you do as a Speech-Language Pathologist for those who are unfamiliar?
As an SLP, I evaluate, assess, diagnose, and treat children and adults with communicative disorders. I work with children up to the geriatric population and with a variety of diagnoses (e.g., language delay, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), hard of hearing, Phonological Disorder, Down Syndrome, Aphasia, and Cognitive-Communication Disorder). Aside from evaluating and treating, I also maintain therapy progress through daily SOAP note documentations and through 6-month and/or annual progress reports.
We treat patients through individual and/or group sessions using evidence-based practices and strategies. Moreover, I also collaborate with different professionals, such as case workers, ABA therapists, counselors, teachers, etc. to help streamline therapy goals and to gather more information . One of my favorite aspects in my job is the ability to advocate and to empower parents, family members, and patients themselves to help them use and/or find their voice.
How did you decide to pursue your specific career?
I've always been called as the "Talking Bird" in our family. I couldn't stop talking! Therefore, when I learned about this field (from my mom) and how I can help a variety of people to communicate and to find and/or use their voice (no matter what the modality is), that's when I decided I wanted to become an SLP.
I think a pivotal moment that pushed me to be where I am now is when I visited my hometown in the Philippines in 2014. I saw the disparity between the services available for children and adults with communicative disorders in the Philippines compared to here. I realized that I can use my degree to help families there as well and spread awareness about communicative disorders, the importance of literacy and parent empowerment for children with language delays.
What made you interested in your field? What do you like about it?
The ability to reach, empower, and advocate for a variety of people is what made me interested in my field. For me, nothing beats seeing parents help their young child to communicate with using different naturalistic language strategies that they learned from our therapy sessions.. or when an individual with aphasia communicates "I love you" to their spouse through the use of verbalizations, gestures, or even an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
Shadow, volunteer, and be yourself! Shadowing SLPs in private clinics, schools, or hospitals is a good way to observe SLPs in action! Volunteering is also another way to learn more about the field and to gain more experience. You can message private clinics and ask if they are looking for volunteers (our clinic always does!). Volunteering provided me a lot of invaluable experiences that really made me love this field. Lastly, it sounds cliche to say "be yourself", but I think sharing your story, your success and struggles, shapes you as a clinician. You owe it to yourself and the people who helped you along the way!
What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?
2) Team Player
What fuels you to continue to do what you do?
My patients, their family, and the victories that each of them achieves, no matter how big or small they can be :). My faith and support system (I.e., my parents, my friends) are what keeps me going everyday as well.
Most difficult thing about your job?
Managing your caseload -- which for me is dealing with paperwork, scoring assessments, writing daily SOAP notes, and writing reports on time while also providing therapy! :O
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Don't worry about the "little" stuff or that "C" that you got on your quiz (that won't matter in 5 years). Surround yourself with people who makes you proud of your accomplishments (no matter how big or small they are). Keep on learning and don't forget to enjoy the process!
Best advice you've received/heard?
My grad school supervisor told me to learn how to say no and to set boundaries. It speaks volumes to me in every facet of my life, not just at work, but even with relationships!
Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to learn more about SLP (Speech-Language Pathology)?
Don't be afraid to ask questions and it's okay not to know everything! SLP is a broad field and it's impossible to know about *every* thing. It's okay to ask your friends and colleagues questions or to ask for help!