Hi! My name is Jo, and I work at A Growing Understanding in the Port Stephens office up at Williamtown. I only recently joined the team, and work full time with five other speech pathologists and two Client Experience Officers (CEO’s). I wanted to share with you what it’s like to be a speech pathologist at A Growing Understanding, as well as some key questions to ask before your start a new role. I was certainly curious about the below before I started working at A Growing Understanding, and I know you will be too.
Would I Work Really Long Days?
I work full time, Monday-Friday, but my hours look a little different to regular full time work. Although we’re open from 7:30am-7pm each day, we work on a shift model where the ‘morning’ shift is from 7:30am-1pm, and the ‘afternoon’ shift is 1pm-7pm.
The shift model allows us to have mould our day the way we like it. For example, I elected to work mostly afternoon shifts, as I am not a morning person! Starting at 1pm allows me to sleep in a little, have coffee with friends, go for a walk/to the gym, and also do all those life errands that I otherwise never felt I had time for (like putting laundry on the line, or going to the doctors). On the days I work mornings, I’m home by 2pm which gives me all the time in the world for napping and catching up with friends.
Would I Only Do Sessions in the Clinic?
Nope! Once a week each speech pathologist has what we call an outreach day to do home or school visits. I love the balance between being able to be in the centre and also servicing those wonderful clients who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access services. My outreach times are a little different as they focus around the school bell times, and I love packing my car with all the resources I will need for the day and hitting the road (and the tunes).
When Would I Do Clinic Notes and Admin Tasks?
At A Growing Understanding, our sessions are 50 minutes long, which means the client gets what they need, and we have 10 minutes to jot down any clinic notes, do some cleaning of the rooms, or prepare for the next session. Anything we don’t finish, we get to complete at a time that suits us. A Growing Understanding facilitates speech pathologists to complete admin tasks at a time that suits (and with no constraints on remuneration). For many of our speech pathologists who are parents, evenings when the kids are in bed become a chance to plonk down on the couch and catch up on notes. For me, I love to finish my admin and prepare for clients in the morning with my coffee. It helps me know what I need to achieve during my shift and I feel ready to rock and roll.
What Sort of Clients Would I Work With?
A Growing Understanding is a paediatric speech pathology service with the majority of our clients being under the age of 10. We see a beautiful range of clients, from our wonderful short term clients with speech sound difficulties, to our gorgeous, more complex clients who are non-verbal or need AAC. In my caseload, for example, I have clients who present with:
- Mild to severe speech sound delays or disorders
- Early language delays
- Literacy difficulties
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Hyperactive and Inattentive)
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (requiring all level of support)
- Receptive and expressive language delays
- Social difficulties
My colleagues also see children who present with:
- Feeding difficulties
- Cleft Palate
- Alternative and Augmentative Communication requirements (AAC)
It is such a privilege to be able to assist and work with a range of clients, and learn about their needs.
Wow, that Sounds Like a Huge Range. Would I Get Support?
Yes, yes, yes! A Growing Understanding prides itself on support, and I can absolutely confirm they follow through with their promise. I receive:
- Weekly Clinical / Well-Being Check-Ins. Each week, we have an individual 30 minute catch up with our clinical leads to see how we’re feeling, if we’re up to date with our caseloads, if we need any assistance, and how we can best nurture ourselves and clients. This is also a great opportunity to clarify any pressing questions or concerns we may have.
- Monthly Supervision Meetings. Our supervision is with our site/clinical lead, and gives me the opportunity to discuss the specific clinical questions I have regarding clients or professional development. I love these meetings! Our clinical leads have decades of experience and it is so exciting to learn from them.
- Weekly Peer Mentoring. Each week, all the clinicians get together across the sites and present information about cases that they’re proud of, cases that are tricky, and any professional development, research, articles etc that they’ve come across. It helps keep us all connected personally and professionally and gives us a chance to learn from each other.
For new graduates or early career speech pathologists, they also receive their own additional peer mentoring to give them extra time to learn and gain the support they need. We also all access an online program that helps us communicate in between our sessions, throw questions out to the wider team, celebrate our wins (and each other) and check in on each other.
A Growing Understanding also prides itself and values best-evidence practice, so speech pathologists are supported and encouraged to access professional development in areas of their interest. This year, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to complete Hanen It Takes Two training, Lidcombe training, and some wonderful Speech Pathology Australia online seminars such as Accidental Counselling and Complex Childhood Trauma. I love working somewhere that values current best-evidence the same way I do.
And I mustn’t forget the support each speech pathologist receives from the Client Experience Officers. They help us get all our appointments and calendars sorted (plus much more) and ensure our children and families feel comfortable and confident during their speech pathology journey.
Okay. That Sounds Pretty Good. What’s the Team Like?
There are over 30 staff members here at A Growing Understanding (including Client Experience Officers). As is common in our profession, we’re all women ranging in ages. A Growing Understanding values strong support networks and systems, and time is allocated and prioritised to get together as a team and support each other. Every three months we have our Quarter Cuddle, which is a chance to get together and celebrate ourselves, our job, and our company. We believe in supporting each other, our clients, and the community, which means we are all on the same page when it comes to growing communication skills and a culture we can be proud of. We’re lucky to work in such a team.
Has this got you interested? Have you got any questions? Reach out! Check out the Join Our Team page to find out more, and you could grow your career with us. We’re so excited to have you.