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How do I ask SLPs about shadowing?

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I'm an out of field student (B.A. Linguistics and French 2015) and I'm not really sure the best way to go about this. Should I cold-call? Should I email? Is there a standard format for this? I'm taking leveling courses in the Fall and Spring at UT Austin but I have a 5 week period in the summer where my schedule is basically open and I'd like to get a head start on observation hours. Any and all advice is appreciated! I have an advising appointment tomorrow so I'm also going to bring it up then. 


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I'm also out of field and am in the process of wrapping up my observation hours now. Asking in your advising appointment if UT Austin has any connections for hours is definitely a good place to start. I did a mix of cold calling and emailing for mine. Briefly explain that you are starting a leveling program in the fall and are trying to get some observation hours in because you are out of field and ask if they allow that. I started out by searching for speech language pathologists in my area and when I didn't have much luck that way I started searching by type of disorder + my area. The latter method is how I found the aphasia group I'm using for some of my hours.

I would also suggest looking at private practices and nonprofits. I did the bulk of my hours at a nonprofit that runs events and therapy sessions for kids who stutter. I've found smaller organizations are more open to shadowing than some of the hospitals I reached out to who said no due to HIPAA restrictions. Not sure if your undergrad university has a speech program but, if so, you could try reaching out to the alumni network there.

Also, this probably varies by school, but the graduate program I'll be starting in the fall requires me to fill out a report listing the session goals, techniques/materials/strategies used, and general observations about the session. I had previously been using a basic template that I found online which only documented the date, length of session, location and the SLP's signature and ASHA number. I think the level of detail my program requires is uncommon, but I'm having to backtrack a bit now (and kicking myself for it!) to fill out the report so I would suggest jotting down some notes on the sessions you observe to be safe.

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FYI, observation hours may need to be done through a formal academic course in order to count towards the 25 hour ASHA requirement. It really depends on the particular grad school. So if you do them on your own, you may find that they don't "count" towards those 25 required hours.

I did 10 of my hours with my daughter's SLP since I always observe them through a 1-way mirror. I just don't normally write up a formal observation report. The reports I had to write for my observation class list the things mentioned by the PP (session goals, activities done, materials used, etc.)

I did 5 other in-person hours at a local oral school for the deaf. I contacted the head of the SLP department (listed on the school website) and arranged it through her.

The remaining 10 hours I used videotaped sessions posted by the professor. For my observation course, I was required to have observations in a variety of different clinical areas. So I used the videotaped sessions for those. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I did both emails and calls! I found a lot of slps were open for observation and I got observations in hospitals, small clinics, nursing homes and group homes. I had some places that never returned my calls but I had mostly success. I completed my hours during undergrad and some hours on my own at a preschool just as a refresher. I didn't record the hours but it was nice to get to talk with an slp.

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