Speech pathologists treat children with various communication disorders and speech impediments such as stuttering and even swallowing problems. The sheer variety of interventions continues to grow. Whether it be a congenital issue, an accident or disease, the tools available to a qualified SLP can facilitate practical solutions to the most challenging speech challenges.
However, there are problems. Below are some of the most common faced by SLPs.
1. Caseload Overload
As those familiar with the field of speech therapy know, the responsibilities of a speech therapist are many and varied. From accurate assessment to clinical sessions, to completing all of the necessary documentation be it medical forms or insurance documents, your ordinary speech therapist is kept plenty busy.
The problem is that when funding is reduced, there are fewer speech pathologists to care for the same number of clients, resulting in higher caseloads. As is well known in any field, heavy workloads are the perfect recipe for burnout which is no one’s best interest. The question is how can those heavy caseloads be alleviated?
Enter telepractice. With telepractice, those heavy caseloads often become a thing of the past. The online venue removes the barriers of geography and time. Instead of being bound to local availability, which is especially problematic in rural areas where there is a shortage of talent, trained and credentialed therapists can be assigned from anywhere in the country.
2. Shrinking Employment
Let’s face it. It’s about money. Budget cuts often result in cutbacks in the workforce. When school districts are faced with imploding budgets, they will hire less SLPs. So SLPs are at the mercy of the local communities they serve. In fact, ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) has reported that only half of SLPs have full-time employment.
But let’s imagine that a new model could be created that would liberate SLPs from their local markets. Telepractice is that model. When qualified speech pathologists choose to work the telepractice venue, regarding opportunity, the sky is the limit. It is no longer a question of what needs exist in any particular area, but now the entire country becomes the marketplace.
3. Paperwork Monotony
It wouldn’t be so terrible if helping their clients with speech and language difficulties was the totality of the SLPs work. But unfortunately, the clinical session is only part of the job. Clerical work is also demanded. While some SLPs don’t mind this sometimes tedious task, others find it to be a real drag. And these cumbersome activities are enough to sour the entire experience.
The same technology that is at the core of telepractice offers many beautiful solutions to the paperwork dilemma as well. Not only is the documenting process automated, but it has become fully integrated into the clinical session as well. Even homework is assigned, completed and documented online to eliminate this tedious task as well for the therapist.
Telepractice to the Rescue
As telepractice continues to grow in popularity around the country, many see it as a win-win-win. Often the children are better serviced. School administrators appreciate the convenience, control and cost savings. And the speech therapists are also benefiting as has been delineated above. In fact, for many therapists telepractice is a dream come true!