#WhereWeWork Teletherapist Feature – SLP Erin
When you have an hour commute to and from work, sometimes you just want to throw in the towel and find something different. After several years, those multiple hours of commute time to and from work are just not worth it. It’s wearing you out, it’s wearing your car out, and before you start losing your passion for your profession, you start looking into other options. For our Voco team SLP, Erin, this is what started her journey into the beautiful world of teletherapy. This week’s #WhereWeWork feature spotlights Erin’s journey into telespeech.
Tell us about your background in speech pathology.
Erin has been practicing in the field post-graduation for about 10 years. She currently lives in Knoxville, TN, where she not only built her speech career, but also built her relationship with her husband. After getting married, she was there to stay. Erin had her share of long commutes to, from, and during work. Working as a school-based speech pathologist is rewarding, but also requires a lot of time and energy – much of that being travel!
What brought on your interest in teletherapy?
Erin said her commute to and from work equaled two hours, not including travel between schools. Over time, that can not only wear out her car, but the person driving it! Because Erin knew she was staying in Knoxville for the long haul, she knew her options for school SLP work were slim since there were a limited number of school districts in the city. About four years ago, she finally decided to throw in the towel and search for a work-from-home position.
Erin started working as a teletherapist for another teletherapy company, but after a few years, she wasn’t working as many hours as she’d hoped. It’s typical for school districts to only utilize teletherapy part-time, at least at first, for small caseloads of students at a time, especially when they’re first-time users. Erin decided to reach out to other companies, which is how she was introduced to VocoVision, and her recruiter, Stefani. Stefani, who has a strong network with multiple school districts that are teletherapy supporters, was able to secure more hours for Erin mid-school year. Erin was surprised and pleased with how quickly the process went and how easy it was to secure more hours even at a slower time around the holidays!
What’s different about providing services via teletherapy versus in person?
Eliminating travel was obviously Erin’s first thought when we asked this question. Besides that, she feels that using technology is “a lot easier” for her. She has been able to communicate with teachers and get answers quickly versus trying to connect in person and encountering distractions.
According to Erin, the students’ reactions are always positive. Erin says, “they LOVE technology. Anything they can do on the computer is something they love.” Though the younger kids tend to have less of a focus, ensuring they have an aide or assistant in the room with them improves their focus and progress. Erin’s speech kiddos REALLY like her because she likes to give a “treat” at the end of a successful session by playing a game with them. This just shows that motivating tactics and incentives can work virtually just as well as in person!
Getting used to the time difference, as Erin is providing services to students in Pacific Time Zone while she’s on East Coast Time, was a bit of a struggle at first. However, after a while, she found her groove by working out her schedule between the different schools she works with and is now in a great weekly routine.
Another challenge is making sure everyone who is involved at the school is educated about teletherapy. Though it’s been around for multiple years, she’s felt some resistance from certain staff members. However, her experience with teletherapy along with her recruiters advocating for her and VocoVision helps educate school staff members before they start using teletherapy, resulting in the students and staff eventually falling in love with it!
Why are you #locoforvoco?
Erin “loves working from home!” She even set up a home office recently to make her teletherapy space more accessible and organized. Compared to the other companies she’s worked with, VocoVision gives her a lot of freedom when it comes to sessions. She’s not limited to what’s included in the platform, and can integrate other activities and games that she finds. She’s also been pleased with the communication from both the school districts and from her recruiter, Stefani. If the communication expectations are explained up front by Stefani and Erin to the schools they’re working with, Erin never has issues getting responses from teachers, parents, or special education team members.
What advice do you have for prospective teletherapists?
Erin pleads, “ask a lot of questions! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and put yourself out there. It’s scary at first if you haven’t done it before.” Erin encourages SLPs who are interested but nervous about teletherapy to reach out to other therapists who are already working virtually.
She really enjoys teletherapy and would like to continue, but still enjoys her occasional face-to-face time to keep her skills well-rounded. Though she doesn’t want to return to a two-hour-a-day commute, Erin still makes time to squeeze in some in-person therapy along with her teletherapy schedule.