By Craig Coleman, M.A., CCC-SLP, BCS-F
In the summer of 1999, I was a first-year graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh. I was eager to enter the field, and excited to take a course in Professional Issues in Speech-Language Pathology. We had many guest speakers who talked about their experiences in the field. They were all very engaging and held my interest in learning more about the field. They also scared me to death! What I didn't know at that time was that a law had recently been passed that placed a $1500 cap on Medicare services for speech-language pathology.
Many of the speakers talked about how this cap had eliminated jobs in their work setting and the future of the profession uncertain, at least if you wanted to work with adults. As someone who was much more interested in the pediatric population, I had two thoughts: 1.) Whew. I will still be able to get a job. I feel bad for my classmates who want to work with adults. 2.) Wait, those SLPs who worked with adults and lost their jobs might now work with pediatrics and take my future job!
Fortunately, every year since 1999, Congress has passed an exemption on the cap, and it has not been in place since. Not coincidentally, I have had a job since then as well.
Back in 1999, students were encouraged to be active in professional issues if they wanted to be--it was encouraged, but not mandatory. Times have changed. Professional advocacy is now even in the ASHA Scope of Practice. If the field is going to thrive, we have to be active.
I created this website to give my students an opportunity (nah, really an obligation) to advocate for the profession by writing blog posts about important issues, contacting legislators, and contacting NSSLHA chapters from other universities to engage them in the advocacy project as well. They have done an amazing job, but now we need your help. We need students and professionals to write for the blog to share your stories of advocacy. What do you need? What has worked for you? What issues are important to you? How can you have the resources you need to be successful? If enough of us engage in this discussion, this can be a great resource to refer to when discussing issues with legislators, insurance companies, and other stakeholders. We need you to write for us! Send us your posts that you want to share and we will publish them here! Here is what you can do:
1. Read the Blog regularly to stay informed on important issues.
2. Write about issues that are important to you and how we can help. Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will publish them!
3. Share the website (www.slpadvocacy.com) with others and encourage them to get involved.
Thank you for reading and being engaged!