Working for the public school system has many benefits, one of which is Fall break. This week I was able to enjoy my break from work with my family at home as well as my extended family at the SNF. Although there are many therapists whom I love working with and seeing when I work PRN, the patients there are my first love.
If you have read about me, you know I grew up in a nursing home. The area I live/work in has a major shortage of SLPs in both the school and skilled nursing settings. ANY TIME I get off at the school, I have directors from more than one building begging for holiday help so that their therapists are able to take some time off without worrying who will cover their patients. Even though I always say I can only work a little, I usually work a lot. I'm ok with that because this contributes to one of the major reasons I am thankful to be a SLP: Variety of job settings which means variety of people you interact with.
Working at the SNF, you get to work with two other disciplines, PT and OT. Working together, collaborating about patients, having the same purpose in mind, affecting each others treatments make for a challenging and rewarding day. It's always fun to meet new therapists and I find personal satisfaction in hearing comments like this from other disciplines, "You're speech? I have never seen a speech person work with a patient in standing!" I like...no love, to lead transfers and monitor vitals. When I work at the SNF, I am all about functional independence.
It's ok to be about other things too...after all I do usually work around holidays and these patients are like family to me. To some patients, the patients and staff at their facility are the only family they have. It is very important to me that my patients enjoy their holiday by reminiscing about days past. Even the most hesitant patient can be easily coerced into making something, especially in a group...in the name of holiday spirit.
I have a good buddy at this particular facility that unfortunately becomes my gopher since she knows where everything is, but it all works out when we get the activity going and are co-treating away. I started picturing something in my mind and by 8:00 am when patients were filing into the therapy room, my buddy had gathered a cardboard box, some glue, construction paper and a sharpie. We found some glittered turkeys about midway through the project that complemented it nicely.
I had a grouchy-turned-jovial gentleman stand and turn a huge mixing bowl over on the end of the cardboard box. He then traced the circle with the COTA standing by. I went ahead and cut it out with the knife we found in the kitchen area, but I of course let him verbally instruct me on the best way to do this. Just so we could have TWO circles, we let him stand again and cut out one more on the other end of the box! He graciously obliged and felt very important to be handling such a manly task. Another patient cut out leaves. Another glued them on, sequencing colors strategically. We used bedside tables so that the patients with standing balance or tolerance goals were challenged appropriately.
As we began asking patients to name one thing they were thankful for, there were an overwhelming number of them who were thankful for life, for health. Of course there were other things but when you think about the position they are in and how unhealthy they are, I would like to think that for that moment in time they felt great...better than any other day that week...as they looked past their current situation and counted their blessings with their make-shift family who loves them very much.
All of these reasons above: variety, flexibility, friends, family and fun....help me explain why I am thankful to be a SLP. Why are you? Please take the time to comment below. I would love to know because I bet I will agree with you!