7 tips for a SLP practicum in a SNF

Aloha speechy nerds!

So I am way late on this blog post because… I GOT MARRIED! It has been a busy summer but now that things are calming down it’s time to get back to it.

In the spring I was placed in a skilled nursing facility. Before this, I had worked with one adult as an SLPA for about 2 sessions before we realized she needed more than oral motor exercises and was assigned to my supervisor. With that being said I was pretty nervous about what was in store for me. I literally spent days before my rotation reviewing all of my dysphagia and oral motor material. I thought I was going to be quizzed every minute of every day. It ended up not being like that at all! My supervisor was so supportive and stood by my side my entire first month making sure I was ready to fly solo (and by fly solo, I mean her standing outside the door or readily accessible downstairs). I had a blast in this setting, so much so that I completely plan to go medical now!

So! I would love to share the things I learned along with some tips I’d wished I’d had before starting.

  1. Remember you are there to learn and are still a student: Do not do what I did and panic the week before psychotically reviewing everything you’ve ever learned and assuming this is going to be the most stressful time of your life. I have some news for you… YOU ARE STILL A STUDENT! Your supervisor knows this and will not expect that you walk in knowing it all. So relax and be confident. You have support.
  2. Get to know your supervisor by asking all the questions: The first week be sure to ask how your supervisor likes things done. How do they record their notes? Where are their materials located? How do they like their paperwork organized? Where’s the bathroom? Is there a lunch break? Where do you park? What do you wear? What should you be bringing daily? Where is the nurses station? Where is the cafeteria? (this is for patients) What kind of coffee do they like? (yes, seriously!) Etc. Etc.
  3. Be nice to the staff: You will be working closely with the nurses, certified nursing assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, and the director of rehab. Everyone is there to work as a team and make decisions together that benefit the patient. It will be impossible to get your job done without the support of others. If you have an opportunity to co- treat, do it! This is a great opportunity to see how others are working with patients and to gain new perspective.
  4. Be ready to fly solo: While you are a student and your supervisor is there to help. Remember that you can handle this, you are ready for a bedside swallowing evaluation, you can thicken those liquids, and your capable of making suggestions as well! I really liked to challenge myself with every new patient by asking my supervisor to allow me to come up with a treatment plan and make dietary suggestions. 9 times out of 10 she completely agreed with my input and we implemented my suggestions. COOLEST FEELING EVER!
  5. Know the muscles related to swallowing, compensatory strategies/ maneuvers for swallowing, and know your consistencies/textures: While you will most likely not be quizzed in the manner that I assumed would be happening on a daily basis, you are expected to know these things. As my favorite professor always says, “how the heck will you know what to fix if you don’t know where the origin of the problem is!?”
  6. It isn’t all swallowing! While most likely 90% of your caseload will be swallowing you will also get patients with cognitive disabilities such as dementia and if you’re like me, a couple of AAC candidates. So be prepared to work on memory books and potentially implementing alternative forms of communication.
  7. Take notes: Not only will you be expected to log daily notes for your supervisor, I also suggest that you take notes on your own. Documentation in this setting is VERY different than others. This setting calls for short handed and to-the-point notes. Brush up on you S.O.A.P note writing and be ready to know/ use medical abbreviations.

Well that’s all I got. I could go on talking about this setting all day but I’ll stop here 🙂

If you have any other questions or want to know more about SNF’s, feel free to contact me!

* Stay tuned for a follow- up post on SNF materials.



2 thoughts on “7 tips for a SLP practicum in a SNF

  1. Congrats on your marriage Taylor! Wishing you many happy years 💚. And thanks for this article. I am nervous about my first med based practicum but also excited!

    Liked by 1 person

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