Confessions of a Clinical Fellow Supervisor

Just a few years ago, I began my job as a speech language pathologist in a public school. I was excited and full of energy, but let's be honest, I was also terrified! Even though I travelled between schools, I had the blessing of having another SLP at each site. One was close to my age, and the other was a seasoned SLP with a wealth of knowledge. My supervisor was the latter and I am so grateful to her for all she did. She gave me ideas, encouraged me, gave feedback, and even comforted me when I cried due to being overwhelmed.

Only 3 years later, I find myself supervising my first clinical fellow (CF). These are my confessions:

I was a little scared.
Mostly I was afraid that I wouldn't be a good supervisor, but I was also afraid that my CF would need a lot of coaching. I can say with confidence that my CF is amazing! Throughout the year, she has taught me just as much (if not more) than I have taught her.

It takes time.
Being a mentor does take time out of my day. We share an office 2.5 days a week and I definitely get less done on those days. Does that mean I'm not productive? Not at all! During those times, we have great discussions about therapy, education, and our lives. Many SLPs are the only one in the building or even the district. I am blessed to have someone to help me tone down my crazy ideas or those fiery emails I want to send.

You know more than you think.
One of the scariest parts during my CF year was learning all of the district policies, due process procedures, who to contact, and general ins an outs. In your first year at a school you learn how to conduct evals, host IEP meetings, and yes, run the copy machine. When I found out I would be working with a CF, I thought that there was no way I'd be able to help her learn all the procedures she would need to know. To my surprise I have been able to answer almost all her questions. If I can't answer them, I look it up or simply say "I don't know" and try to find the person who does know. I think sometimes it's hard to admit we don't know everything, but honestly, there's SO MUCH for us to know. I have grown in my ability to problem solve and find answers that I don't already know.

I wouldn't trade the experience.
Have I been the perfect CF supervisor? Certainly not. Have I learned? Yes. I have also had the opportunity to see my CF grow and flourish throughout the year. As the year has progressed, I've seen her confidence grow along with her skills.

My experience has been phenomenal. I know not all CF experiences are like mine. My take away from this year has been that even though I am still new, still learning, and still growing, I have new knowledge and confidence.

Have you ever supervised a CF before? What was your experience like?

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