Graduate School

The First Week at my Externship – Seven Lessons Learned

  1. Katy says:

    I love your last lesson you’ve learned – haha! I have been thinking since my first semester of grad school that working with adults isn’t going to be for me because progressive degenerative disorders make me sad, and so does aphasia. However after 2 semesters of having assigned annotated bibliographies in these areas, I feel less hopeless for these people and more like we can make a difference, even if it’s small, because we can have such an impact on quality of life. After taking our course in dysphagia, I’m also wondering if maybe that’s what I’ll want to do because I found it so fascinating. I’m in a private special-needs school this semester. I can hardly wait to do my adult placement, although I’m also very nervous about it because I’ve never ever had a client over the age of 21. I think it’s ok that certain disorders make us sad. I think this field draws more sensitive, caring people, and that’s what makes us so important but also what makes it hard sometimes. One of our profs said you get used to the degenerative disorders, but I honestly don’t want to – I want to feel whatever emotions with each one because I think that’s what makes us different from other professionals.

    I hope you continue to enjoy your placement, and I look forward to more posts about it! 🙂

    • Shannon says:

      Thanks, Katy!! Love to hear you’re going through the same thing it sounds like! I’ve heard that too, about “getting used to” some types of disorders but I agree with you! Good luck with your adult placement! Your current placement sounds like my dream job!!

  2. Love this post! Specifically #3 because it’s 110% true. Your supervisors can really make all the difference. I did do an adult hospital placement (even though I thought I was set on pediatrics) and actually really enjoyed it. That was largely due to my awesome supervisor. And amen to #2 – I used to work in a private practice and could wear scrub bottoms, which was ahhh-mazing!!

  3. Not every setting is a perfect fit, but you do learn a whole lot! I never thought I would ever like working in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF), but I found I did like it. My supervisor was rather tough, I cried often after leaving because I felt defeated. However I got better at handling difficult people, and my supervisor and I actually became really close by the end of 3 months. I still send my supervisor Christmas cards and she says she is counting the days until I go back into the adult field. It’s always nice to know I have the experience on my resume if I ever am in need of a job outside of my elementary school! I also feel like a more well rounded SLP having worked with ages 3-90+ Good luck and takes lots of notes!!!

    • Shannon says:

      I think your experience may end up being similar to mine! 🙂 I really do think I’ll end up liking it… it’s just totally different than anything I’ve done in the past so it’s a BIG learning curve!

  4. Jenna says:

    This is too funny. I think these are some of the exact thoughts and words I used after my first week at my adult placement. Coming out of school, I was certain I wanted to work with adults, but after I did my school internship, I completely changed my mind. Now I’m a month into my CF in a public elementary school, and I LOVE it! Hope you continue to learn a lot and keep up this positive attitude!

    • Shannon says:

      That’s great! Glad you felt the same way 🙂 I have always been certain I want to work with kids and still feel that way. But like I said, I at least will feel much more comfortable/knowledgable now if I decide to PRN or switch fields later! I truly am learning a lot!

  5. Laura says:

    This is my first semester as a grad student and I was assigned to an adult day care facility. I can relate to your experiences. I am not sold on the whole scrubs thing though. Mostly because we have to wear all black and I like color in my life. I have a client with Parkinson’s and she is in her early 60’s. She makes me sad, but I am hopeful to try and make improvements in her life. I did learn that I like working with adults that have a developmental disability. Mostly, because they are like kids, which is where I feel most comfortable too.

    • Shannon says:

      That’s awesome that you get assigned to placements your first semester! Wow! I need color in my life though too… starts to feel like a uniform when you’ve gotta wear all black! 🙁 Good luck with your externship though. I’m sure it will only get better and better!

  6. Sharon Schackmann says:

    I love this post! When I had my adult placement, I was absolutely dreading it. By the end of it, I had grown to love it and love my clients, though I knew I still wanted to work with kids. It’s AMAZING the things you can learn from the adult population. Some of my favorite memories from my second year of grad school were from my adult placement. #3 and #6 are my favorites, but the scrubs one comes in a close third. Nothing beats not having to choose what to wear to work every morning 🙂

  7. Melissa says:

    I loved reading this post. I just finished my first full week (only 2 days the previous week) in an adult setting. I’m also a kiddo person. This is a career change for me and was a teacher before this, so it’s way out of my comfort zone too. The way you described how you felt on each day of the week was pretty much how I felt. It is getting better though, and I am starting to enjoy it. Glad to see you are too! Good luck with the rest of the semester 🙂

    • Shannon says:

      Thank you so much, Melissa! I seriously love hearing that others felt the same way at their externships. Good luck with the rest of your semester as well.

  8. Ms. Lane says:

    I was so scared to do an adult placement during grad school but I ended up loving it! I still think I’ll always work with kids, but I like knowing that if I ever do change my mind there are lots of options out there for working with adults! And I agree with everyone else that scrubs are the BEST!!!

    ~Ms. Lane (

    • Shannon says:

      I agree! I do love the options SLPs have for changing around. I’m glad to hear you ended up loving yours! I could definitely see that happening for me too. Thanks for the comment!

  9. Lori Adams says:

    I have a very vivid memory from one of my externships. In an acute hospital setting, I remember my supervisor trying some scrambled eggs with a stroke patient. He was unable to manage them, so she had to suction them out. I became very hot and asked to be excused. I’m pretty sure I almost fainted. I was also 3 months pregnant, so I don’t think that helped either. I have a much stronger stomach now! Lol.

  10. […] many of you know, my externship this semester is with adults. Since my week one update, I’ve grown to really enjoy my […]

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