Cara, a Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP), began her career as a Clinical Fellow (CF) with Easterseals Massachusetts (ESMA) five years ago. Over the last five years Cara has gone through a lot of professional growth. When she finished Graduate School Cara knew more about what she did not want to do versus what she did want to do. Because of this, Cara felt like she needed a little more exploration to figure out what specific settings and populations she was most passionate about.
“Through my work at ESMA, I am able to explore different types of school settings such as collaboratives and residential schools. During this exploration I found my passion for working with augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). I also discovered that I really enjoy working with adults in both day habilitation programs and skilled nursing facilities.”
The variety of contracts and settings that ESMA works in has allowed Cara to grow as a therapist. AAC always interested Cara but she had minimal hands on opportunities with this particular population of communicators when first beginning her career. While exploring the different settings that ESMA has to offer, Cara was able to dip her toe into AAC at one of her day habilitation programs.
“I worked with one individual at a site who needed an eye gaze trial for his Tobii device. Going through that experience with the client showed me how passionate I am about AAC. Being able to complete the trial, get him the technology that he desperately needed, and see how that technology has transformed his life was so rewarding. It was a process that we completed together and I like to think that the experience was just as empowering for me as it was for him.”
Cara is also one of ESMA’s CF Supervisors. When her SLP Clinical Supervisor approached her about doing CF Supervision, Cara was naturally nervous; however, Cara quickly figured out that helping CFs find their feet as they begin their journey in Speech and Language Pathology is fun and very rewarding.
“It is exciting to help new SLPs and see how they grow as therapists.” Cara’s methods to CF Supervision mirror those of her own Clinical Supervisor. “I am always there to help when needed but I also give the CFs some room to try and work things out on their own so that they have room to grow as therapists.”
ESMA provides an extremely supportive learning environment for exploring new settings and this allows therapists to become well-rounded. Working for a mission-driven organization such as ESMA keeps Cara grounded and focused on why she goes to work every day.