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2012 ASHA Convention Recap

It only feels like another lifetime, right? For those of you who were able to attend the ASHA Convention in Atlanta last fall, I hope you’re still pondering all the learning and reminiscing about the interactions. I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for, well, weeks. Chalk it up to end-of-year deadlines, a little procrastination, and the holidays. I imagine I’m probably in good company on that front. So, Happy New Year to all!

Truthfully, the procrastination part probably had the most to do with it (here’s to admitting it!). How would I capture this particular ASHA? I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was prompting my writer’s block until now. “Atlanta 2012” was my 17th ASHA Convention. It’s a little hard to believe. Certainly, some of you have been to many more than I have, some far less. What stands out for me this year? That’s what I’ve been pondering.

My schedule at an ASHA tends to be a little nuts—this year seemed even more so. If you attended, you might have noticed the Pearson footprint in various places among events, sessions, and of course, in the Exhibit Hall. Pearson has made a strong commitment to our profession, and that means we (and especially the six SLPs who work in our Clinical Assessment business unit—soon to be seven, we hope!) [link to RD posting here] want to learn from and support many different parts of our profession. In addition, I can’t remember a better Opening Session and Awards Ceremony set of events. Maya Angelou, the Glenns, Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly—ASHA hit a home run this year on that front.

But there has to be something more than the schedule and the events, and of course our ever-present marketing in the Exhibit Hall. [link to ASHA page on snl.com] What did I take away from the content of the meetings? In a word, transformation. Or, more to the point, our need as a profession to transform. We’re in the midst of a very disruptive and necessary digital transformation in the publishing world, and yet our profession needs the same thing. Where did I see evidence of this need? At the Academic Researcher Town Hall meeting where Alex Johnson and other colleagues discussed the need for transformation in clinical education. At the over-flowing sessions where professionals hungrily consumed information on apps and tech tools for practice (and the appropriate use of them). At the Council of State Association Presidents (CSAP) meeting where we discussed SLPA practice and supervision, among other things. At the sessions on RTI, which has been around for a while now, where colleagues still struggle with balancing “traditional” and “nontraditional” practice models in their desire to transform how they support students—and also have to explain, justify and get support from administrators. There are many, many more examples.

In some ways, one might think that working as an SLP at Pearson is a “safe haven” from all of this need to transform as a clinician. No, I don’t have to file for reimbursement. I don’t have to juggle a caseload of 65 and then all the general ed students I might be serving. I don’t have to directly supervise other professionals and their day-to-day or even moment-to-moment work. And yet I do. To be effective and responsible in the products and services we bring to the profession, I need to proverbially be kept awake at night by the things that keep you awake at night. My ever-recurring question is, “What is the role of industry—of the publisher, of Pearson—in this area?” Sometimes the answers are clear, sometimes not. My takeaway this year is that I need to keep transforming my own thinking about the work we do. It’s tough and exciting…but a creative challenge is part of our fabric as SLPs, isn’t it? I believe so.

Again, Happy New Year—here’s to a transformative 2013!

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