#WhereWeWork Teletherapist Feature – SLP Ashley
This week’s #WhereWeWork series explains how one simple decision can make a complete improvement to your work-life balance. One of our fantastic team speech pathologists, Ashley L., wanted to share what her transition – which started just one year ago – has been like into the beautiful world of teletherapy, and why she believes it is “the coolest job ever!”
“Hi, I’m Ashley and I’m a Speech Pathologist and Teletherapist. Every morning, I wake up at a normal time, feed my kids breakfast and help them get on the bus, and then go upstairs and work at my computer the exact same hours my kids are in school. I have this luxury because I live in Oklahoma and am working remotely for a brick and mortar high school in Bakersfield, California, which is in the Pacific time zone.
In my almost 16 years as an SLP, I had “only” served 3 years in the schools. I didn’t think I would ever return to the schools UNTIL I had my own children. Suddenly, working when they were in school and being off when they were off was pretty enticing to me. The minute I found out that SLPs were getting licensed in other states to provide services in the comfort of their own home, I immediately knew it was the job for me. Of all of the companies offering these services, one stood out to me in particular: VocoVision. The minute I saw the YouTube video of Nate Cornish providing therapy services remotely, I knew this was the company I wanted to work for.
From the time I first contacted VocoVision, they were always extremely professional to work with. Nicole Webb [a Voco team leader who plays a large part in the hiring/interview process] was so kind and had so much energy and excitement about the job opportunity…it was contagious! Alison Self [my dedicated recruiter] was always super smart and quick and always available when I needed her. I got a little skeptical that one of my contracts may never get off the ground, and Alison was so encouraging that it was just a new placement that may take a little more time – she was right! Nate Cornish [Voco’s clinical director – a bilingual CCC-SLP] has been available to answer clinical questions about testing and ways to translate certain therapy techniques to an online format and has been helpful. James Sral and Craig Davis [VocoVision’s technical team] have been around to deal with the tech aspects of the job and have helped me with the learning curve of the platform we are using.
My friends have commented that, being the extrovert I am, they are shocked that I can work at home and love it. The truth is, I have more human interaction with this job than I did at several of my previous SLP jobs. I probably work with about 15 high school students a day on average. In addition to this, I am constantly emailing parents and teachers and participating in IEP meetings remotely. I also have an employee that works at the high school as my aide. We are “face to face” all day, and she is there to complete all of the onsite tasks that I am not able to, and we have also become great friends. I have been blessed with a great staff at my school and they have all been very supportive of this modality of work. I feel like I still have co-workers.
The students have done so well with the online platform, and it doesn’t have the “stigma” attached to it that it does for the adults since these kids have had computers around them for their entire lives. Several of my students’ parents have been surprised to find out that their kids are loving teletherapy so much. I have a huge window next to my computer, and got into the habit of showing my students what the weather looked like in Oklahoma. I think it was a great reminder to them that their weather/time zone, etc. is not the only one. They loved it when it snowed here!
California announced earlier this year that they are now allowing MediCal to reimburse schools for speech therapy services provided over the internet. Several other states are endorsing reimbursement for teletherapy as well. This means that there is probably a future in teletherapy for you if you are interested. Come on and join in on the fun!
Here are some pictures of me on the job:
Confession: I can’t sit still for long, so I sit on a yoga ball and also have a standing desk. Huge life savers! I “cheat” with an iPad and invite myself to the meeting so that I can see the meeting from their standpoint. If I am not screen sharing or something, it’s the quickest way for me to figure that out.
My absolute favorite program to use in the schools has always been “Boardmaker”. I’m so glad they added an online format so I can continue to design cool games and activities using new vocabulary and tie it to the curriculum. The computers the students work with have a touchscreen, making all of our activities extremely interactive!
I found “Quia” this year and that has provided older looking games/activities since I’m working with teens this year. I made an “Inauguration Day” activity to teach my adolescent students about the process of getting a new President.
My file boxes. I [try to] keep the paperwork contained, but it’s still a school job, so paper gets a little crazy sometimes.”