SLP Alumni and Friends

Trading Places…

Angela Fong, S-LP class of ‘09, and Katie Sharpe, S-LP class of ‘05, recently swapped jobs – and populations – at Toronto East General Hospital (TEGH). Angela handed Katie her bubbles and Fisher Price farm as she left an outpatient pediatric job for Katie’s honey-thick liquids and radiation dosimeters in adult acute care.

Although enjoying her work in the field of dysphagia, Katie longed for an opportunity to refresh the skills she had gone into speech pathology for – assessment and treatment of communication disorders. Angela had never experienced acute care during clinical placements, so she and Katie decided a temporary “job swap” was an arrangement they were both interested in. They facilitated this transition by “training” each other once a week – Angela spent an afternoon in acute care, while Katie saw one pediatric client.

Both clinicians were struck by many differences between their new and old positions. Angela found the fast-paced and unpredictable nature of working in acute care t0ok some getting used to, after her well-scheduled days in a pediatric out-patient clinic. Katie enjoyed the opportunity to get back in touch with her “creative side”, while developing fun and interesting lesson plans to keep the children motivated. Although there were unforeseen challenges in adapting to their new roles, Angela and Katie each felt strongly supported by their speech pathology and interdisciplinary colleagues.

Beyond the development of different clinical skills, Katie and Angela were impacted in other ways by their new roles. Whether due to working with kids, simply doing something different, or both, Katie’s friends and families remarked that she seemed happier. For Angela, the more emotional aspects of acute care, particularly around death and dying, were difficult to “leave at work”.

Based on their experiences, Katie and Angela would encourage other S-LPs to try working with other populations if they have the opportunity. Like TEGH, some organizations may offer this chance internally. As these clinicians learned, the potential for variety and broadening of practice may be one of the best ‘perks’ of our profession.