Everytime someone finds out that I'm studying to be a speech pathologist, their first question is "Oh, so you're going to work with kids with lisps and stutters, right?" Believe me.. there is no judgment here; I originally got into the field to work with that very demographic. However, in my time learning about all the many specialities of speech pathology, I finally had "my AH-HA moment" as to what I want to do.
Of my 4 semesters, each one came around and I would say "I really enjoyed that" or "I am going to miss working with this group of clients", but I never knew what I REALLY wanted to do come January 2013. I finally know.
This semester, I had the privilege of working with geriatrics AND I LOVED IT. I always have known that I enjoy spending time "with the elderly" (heck, my first job was as a waitress at an old folks home- may I just say..you don't mess with old people and their food), but didn't know if it was something I could do for 40 hours a week. I officially know that it is. Here are my reasons why:
1. They are (for the most part) an extremely appreciative group of people to work with who enjoy spending time with you and love to impart their little gems of wisdom. I, for one, enjoy their stories and hearing what "the old days" were like or hearing what it takes to have a happy, loving 60-year marriage.
2. LOTS OF LAUGHS. You think KIDS say the darndest things?? SO DO 80-90 years olds!!! I have had TEARS from some of the extremely unexpected comments. For example, I have been asked out on a date by a 90-yr old or been told that my sandals were "pure sex". I am learning to expect the unexpected with these folks. Their filter is gone and I kinda love it.
3. I don't cry when I get yelled at. You may be wondering about this one, but basically I have pretty thin skin at times. I really struggle when I feel like clients don't like me or aren't enjoying the session; I also get nervous dealing with parents who could potentially bite my head off. In this practicum, I had my first patient yell at me. When I say yell, I mean YELL. "You're a bitch AND a witch ::pause:: AND I MEAN IT!!!!!" I kept waiting for that usual tinge of hurt feelings, but all that came was an inner giggle ONLY because I know she didn't really mean it. It's hard to take something personally from someone who is unfortunately slightly disoriented. I most likely reminded her of an old "frenemy" or she was very confused as to where she was...and that's ok.
4. I got up everyday, no matter what happened the day before, excited to go to work. In previous rotations, I have truly enjoyed myself...but I always had another factor that made me excited to go too from other friends in the practicum, a super special sweet little client, or a really fun supervisor. This practicum, I enjoyed the down-right nitty gritties. I didn't mind getting sneezed on or having to help change some diapers. I really felt right in my element.
In closing, I feel like my sometimes "over-the-top" enthusiasm suites me well in this field and even better with the grandmas/grandpas who just need a little extra smile to go through their often monotonous day. If anyone knows of any wonderful long-term care facilities or skilled nursing facilities, pass that information along! I can't wait for January...
...the "SOONER" really is going to be here before I know it.