Can I Shadow you? Pre-course clinical experience

Shadow photo

Since setting up in independent practice I’ve had almost weekly emails from people who want to train as speech and language therapists. They explain they need to gain relevant work experience and ask if they can come and shadow me during therapy sessions with my clients. 

At the moment I can’t see how having someone observe me carry out therapy benefits my clients, who are my customers. So I’ve been politely explaining that I don’t offer shadowing opportunities for this reason. Am I missing something? Do you deal with these types of enquires differently?

I tend to suggest that people contact their local NHS service; when I worked in the NHS we offered half day observation sessions. Back when I was looking for relevant experience before applying to train as a therapist I had lots of luck with my local volunteer centre. They matched me to a weekly Stroke club and a summer day camp for children with Down’s Syndrome. I received training and worked alongside therapists, during both of these placements.

The guidance for applying for a place on a speech and language therapy degree course says applicants need to demonstrate awareness of client needs and the skills required to work as a therapist. I wondered if I could put together a short workshop that would support the people who ask to shadow me with their applications. I could cover things like:

  • an introduction to the range of clients I work with, and their needs, with video examples,
  • an introduction to different types of therapy, and ways of working,
  • workshop exercises to demonstrate and practise the core skills therapists require,
  • a reading or resource list, particularly those written by people with speech, language and communication needs or their families,
  • suggestions for how to approach therapists, to ask for observation experience,
  • an opportunity for questions and answers.

What do you think? Does this sound useful? If you’re in the process of applying for a therapy degree course would you attend?

Photo by crabchick

7 thoughts on “Can I Shadow you? Pre-course clinical experience

  1. Megan

    This sounds ideal! I’ve just got a job as a speech and language therapy assistant and a degree in speech and language therapy may be something I may look to do in the future. These sorts of experiences you describe sound like the exact sort of thing both universities look for in prospective students to talk about at interview, and for students to get a real flavour of what a career as a speech and language therapist might be like. PLEASE get this going and may others follow in your footsteps!

  2. Juhi

    I agree with Megan and think this is a really good idea. I’m currently in my second year of my BSc SLT course. This sort of information would have been really helpful. I was lucky enough to find a fair bit of experience before I applied for my course but that was only because I had some contacts from my part-time job. I know other people aren’t so lucky so this would be great!

  3. Shona

    Hi Rhiannan, I also agree with Megan and Juhi – this sounds like a fantastic idea. I am currently in my first year of the postgraduate SLT course, and would certainly have benefited from such an experience. The only way I was able to get direct experience in the end (besides volunteering in a local SEN school) was through connections I luckily had – one being that my sister’s boss’s wife happened to be an SLT so she took me on for a week! Another was a friend of a friend, etc – luckily I had people around me too look out for me, otherwise I may not have got a place on the course for a very long time. Given that places like UCL give a specific number of days of relevant experience needed, every little helps. I really hope that you go ahead with the idea, for the sake of future students.

  4. Lin

    I think this sounds great. I am planning to apply for the postgrad course this Autumn. Given how rare it is – as you say – to get the opportunity to shadow independent SLTs, it would be a great way to gain an insight into the kind of work that SLTs can do in independent practice.

  5. Bryony

    This is such a fantastic idea. And a really tangible thing that prospective SLT students could add to their CV. I’d love to help out if you need to bounce some ideas! (PS – can you tell I’m missing the Therapy Ideas live events?!)

  6. Marie-Claire

    I think this would be great! I’ve just discovered your blog after months of contemplating a post grad in Speech Therapy. I’m in Australia so wouldn’t be able to attend yours, but if I could find something similar here I would throw myself at it! You gave excellent advice as far as looking to national healthcare providers as well as volunteer groups for experience. I am looking to find a recommended reading list myself, if this was something you’d be willing to share it would be a great help! Thanks for this! I’m really enjoying reading your blog, its been very informative, so thanks for that too!

  7. niki

    Yes please. That would be of interest. I’ve just stumbled across your blog. Are you going to set up a course soon? I’m in North west London. Thank you for coming up with this idea.

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