Blogging is to Talking, as APA Style is to ?

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I’ve found a danger to blogging a lot—someone might like what I’ve chatted about casually and then want me to turn it into an APA style manuscript.  Yep!  That’s happened!  My little ramblings about Google forms have been converted to a formal paper, and are about ready to be submitted electronically to the scholarly folds of ASHA for a peer review and heavy edit.

I’ve learned quite a bit from this:

1.  What is APA style?  The last time I wrote a research paper, I used a typewriter—it was at least an electric typewriter. (Hey, I’m not that old!)  Regardless, writing a paper and submitting it so it looks similar to what I see in my professional journals is a bit of a learning curve.  Fonts didn’t really exist in my world back then.   I’ve never written an ‘abstract’ or worried about including ‘table titles’ or website references.  I’ve spent more than a few hours over the holidays learning about fonts, double spacing, and citations.  (I feel I’m a more than competent speech pathologist—but my job descriptions since graduation in 1984 haven’t really included this.)

2.  What is a SIG (otherwise known as Special Interest Group) in the ASHA world?   I’ve never fronted the money but apparently each SIG has scholarly publications that the members (who pay $35 a year) can read and get CEUs.   I’m hopefully going to be published in one of the SIG publications, although I may not be able to read my own published article since I’m not yet  a member of the SIG.   Maybe I’m not as poor as I think I am.  Perhaps, I’ll turn over a new leaf now, and join a SIG—the one focusing on school-based issues now has me intrigued!   I’ll keep you posted about this.

3.  What is peer review?  I actually already knew about this, but it’s a bit intimidating to submit something I’ve written to be edited and reviewed by people I don’t know.  Right now, I’m using my 22-year-old daughter as my editor, but we think alike and readily critique each other all time about lots of things.  The part about complete strangers reviewing my paper (that I don’t know how to write) is daunting to even consider.  I’m sure that the reality is there will only be a couple of people on a computer that will edit my masterpiece, but my fantasy is that a large group will be earnestly talking about what I wrote. Ha Ha!

So, writing a formal paper is outside of my comfort zone.  Why did I agree to this?  Possibly, I was flattered that anyone even asked.  Possibly, I never say “no” to anything. I need a ready-made script or a social story in this area.

I hope all of you are having a good start to the year! What’s done is done—I said “yes” and this has been great, albeit painful practice, and I’m sure that I’ll have a bit more editing to do.  I’ll let you know how this challenge turns out.

This post is based on a post that originally appeared at Chapel Hill Snippets.

Ruth Morgan is a speech-language pathologist who works for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools at Ephesus Elementary School. She loves her job and enjoys writing about innovative ways to use the iPad in therapy, gluten-free cooking, and geocaching adventures. Visit her blog at:
http://chapelhillsnippets.blogspot.com.

Beware of Scams Targeting Private Therapy Providers

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Internet scams targeting Physical, Speech, Behavior, and Occupational Therapists are on the rise. Last year, I received 3 different scams via email. Initially, I was shocked that I, along with other Therapists across the United States and Canada, were being targeted for our specific services. After the shock subsided, I realized that it made perfect sense. We, as Therapists, are ideal targets. We have big hearts, want to see people improve, and we can be …well, there is no easy way to put this, a little on the verbose side. We do fit the perfect profile for a viral scamming nightmare. Typically these scams tug on our emotional heartstrings and appeal to our sense of altruism.

Shirley Kunkel, M.A., CCC-SLP, a Private Practice Owner in Escondido, CA and Speech Pathologist for 33 years, recalls a recent encounter with a scam artist.

I became mildly suspicious when they asked if I worked on receptive and expressive language, reading disorders and fluency disorders. I felt like their request was not specific enough. So I tried to ferret out what specifically they were trying re-mediate. Sounded like all the disorders I work on in listed in an Ad. Also, the person signed off as Mitchell one time and Michelle the next. I couldn’t understand why the mother who had used Dr. in her title would be coming to my town for 4 months. It is not a scientific research community at the local hospital where I live. They said they presently lived in London and sometimes visited Egypt. I did not lose any money, but I regret that I invested my time and energies into responding to this thief.

Unfortunately, many Therapists are being targeted and are unknowingly engaging in these traps. As a result, some Therapists are losing their hard-earned money by the thousands. Tom Jelen, Director of Online Communication with American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), has also noticed this growing problem within the Private Practice Community.

ASHA has received several reports from our members about a scam that is being attempted on members in private practice. The scammer is requesting to have his or her child visit a private practitioner while visiting the United States. The scammer requests to pre-pay for an evaluation and then sends a cashier’s check that is in an amount well above the evaluation charge. At this point, the scammer requests that the practitioner deposit the money in his or her bank and send back the overage (minus some money for the inconvenience). This scam has been reported to the Federal Trade Commission.

In the article, Fake Checks, the Federal Trade Commission describes normal banking activity.

Under federal law, banks generally must make funds available to you from U.S. Treasury checks, most other governmental checks, and official bank checks (cashier’s checks, certified checks, and teller’s checks), a business day after you deposit the check. For other checks, banks must make the first $200 available the day after you deposit the check, and the remaining funds must be made available on the second business day after the deposit.

However, just because funds are available on a check you’ve deposited doesn’t mean the check is good. It’s best not to rely on money from any type of check (cashier, business or personal check, or money order) unless you know and trust the person you’re dealing with or, better yet — until the bank confirms that the check has cleared. Forgeries can take weeks to be discovered and untangled. The bottom line is that until the bank confirms that the funds from the check have been deposited into your account, you are responsible for any funds you withdraw against that check.

You Can Protect Yourself

The Federal Trade Commission offers some helpful ways to avoid being the latest victim of online scams in the article, “Giving the Bounce to Counterfeit Check Scams.”

  • Know who you’re dealing with, and never wire money to strangers.
  • If you’re selling something, don’t accept a check for more than the selling price, no matter how tempting the offer or how convincing the story. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check. Don’t send the merchandise.
  • As a seller, you can suggest an alternative way for the buyer to pay, like an escrow service or online payment service. There may be a charge for an escrow service. If the buyer insists on using a particular escrow or online payment service you’ve never heard of, check it out. Visit its website, and read its terms of agreement and privacy policy. Call the customer service line. If there isn’t one — or if you call and can’t get answers about the service’s reliability — don’t use the service.
  • If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch. That way, you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that’s not possible, call the bank where the check was purchased, and ask if it is valid. Get the bank’s phone number from directory assistance or an Internet site that you know and trust, not from the check or from the person who gave you the check.
  • If the buyer insists that you wire back funds, end the transaction immediately. Legitimate buyers don’t pressure you to send money by wire transfer services. In addition, you have little recourse if there’s a problem with a wire transaction.
  • Resist any pressure to “act now.” If the buyer’s offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears.

Remember, if you think you’ve been targeted by a counterfeit check scam there is something you can do. Simply report it to the following agencies:

Sources

  1. Fake Checks, http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0159-fake-checks
  2. The Nigerian Email Scam, http://www.onguardonline.gov/articles/0002l-nigerian-email-scam
  3. Giving the Bounce to Counterfeit Check Scams, http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/articles/naps29.pdf

A version of this post was originally published on The Independent Clinician.

Pamela Rowe, MA, CCC-SLP, is the Clinical Director of Pamela Rowe, MA, CCC-SLP, LLC in Longwood, FL. As a Speech Pathologist, Community Partner, Wife, and Mother of 3, Pamela enjoys mentoring the next generation of Speech Pathologists and hosting various community health events within Central Florida.

Website: www.speechorlando.com
Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/speechorlando

The Motherlode of Organization

I was talking recently to another SLP and of course we were exchanging ideas about how to get organized at the beginning of the year. So I thought I’d share my tried-and-true system with you. It has taken me several years to get to this point, and it will likely continue to evolve.

Data

I have a crazy system, but I find that it has worked well, especially since I revamped it last year. I group my students, and each group gets a two-pocket slash folder like these:

Once upon a time, I put the folders into binders, but the binders grow too large throughout the year, and become more cumbersome. So I ditched the binder, and opted for an accordion file with a handle to keep them in.

It is similar to this one from Walmart. They’re easy to grab and put back as I need them. I just put them in the order that I will see my groups, and voila!

Ok, so what’s in the folders?

First, the front pocket: For each individual student, I have a data page. This includes the student’s name and date of birth, and 5 sections of notes. Each section is identical and includes: the objective targeted, room for data and notes, an indication of group or individual therapy, start/stop time for group, and selections for student or clinician absence/meetings/special activities (assemblies and field trips).

In the back pocket is a copy of each individual student’s IEP goals and any other pertinent info I might need at a moment’s notice. I had a student with a seizure plan one year, so I kept that handy in his folder in case he had one during speech. Thankfully, I never had to refer to it. :-)

Attendance

I find it easiest to nab one of those beautiful teacher gradebooks to use for attendance. I photocopy the pages so I have a set for each quarter. The pages look similar to this:

I have come to love this system. I can easily know who I saw on what day and for how long with a code system I have developed. For each student, I denote G= group, I= individual, A= student absent, CA= clinician absent, CM= clinician in meeting, S=special activity (such as fire drill, field trip, or whatever). Most of my groups are the same duration, so I don’t denote that unless it’s different for some reason. So, I may denote “I” for individual therapy with my standard time frame, or “I45″ to indicate individual therapy for 45 minutes. For clarification, I can refer back to the daily data sheets (from above). At the end of the day, I just zip down the list, and presto, I’m done wth attendance!

Medicaid billing

From this attendance roster, I highlight students that I must bill Medicaid and can zip through my list pretty quick. And bonus, I can tell at a moment’s notice how long it is until I have the daunting task of quarterly IEP updates. I start those puppies two weeks out so I can chip away at them and finish in time.

Materials

I try to use the same activity for most of my groups all day, although sometimes, depending on what I need to target, I may have something different up my sleeve for a few groups. Then, I just gather the other materials I may need, such as articulation or vocabulary cards, books or other visuals, or any manipulatives necessary. I keep all of that within an arm’s reach of where I sit in my room. This year, I share my office, and don’t have the luxury of my nice big assessment cabinet by my side like I did last year, so I’ll have to use some real estate on my desk.

OK, that was a TON! Thanks for hanging in there till the end! If you have any questions, please comment below. Did I leave something out? Just ask! I’m also interested in your system. What do you do? Do you think it’s the best system ever? Let me know! I’m always looking for a way to make the day-to-day operations easier.

This post originally appeared on Adaptable, Flexible, & Versatile Speech-Language Therapy.

Karen Dickson, MA, CCC-SLP/L is in her fifth year as a Speech-Language Pathologist. Currently, she works for Valley View School District in Bolingbrook, Illinois. She provides speech-language services to students in pre-school through fifth grade. She has recently been inspired to start her own blog and invites you to visit her site at  http://afvslp.blogspot.com.

Where Are They Now? Marketing Can be Fun And Professionally Rewarding.

A few years ago, I came down with a bad case of the “marketing bug” and I just can’t seem to get over it.  I have found marketing to be very contagious.  You have one successful story or event and you just can’t wait to do another one!  I have also learned the benefits go far beyond the publicity it brings to our services.  It has given me much professional satisfaction and reward!

So, last fall I was thinking….. “What creative marketing story could I come up with for this year?”  Hmm…… let me think….. 2011 is the 20 year anniversary of our pediatric Cochlear Implant program, so maybe we could locate one of the first patients we implanted and find out how they are doing now!  People love those “Where are they now?” stories.  So, I contacted our marketing department and they thought it was a great idea.  Luckily, we were able to find Ashley (the cute little girl in the picture above).  We contacted her and she willingly agreed to come in for a picture and story.

I remember sitting in the marketing department anxiously awaiting Ashley’s arrival the day of her interview.    Would she remember me?  What would she look like?  How would her speech sound?  Would she still have that big smile and cute laugh?  I was actually a little nervous!  To my delight, Ashley walked through the door and we took one look at each other and immediately embraced in a warm hug.  It was like a big family reunion.  And, I had the answer to all my questions. Yes, she did remember me and coming to therapy here 20 years ago.  She also remembered some specific tips I had given her to improve her articulation skills (in fact, she was still using them today!).  Her speech was surprisingly clear and intelligible.  She also still had that warm smile and cute giggle when she laughed.  Hearing her talk about her marriage, job and school work made me very proud.  Little Ashley had grown into a mature, successful and happy young lady.

 Ashley’s story and pictures ran in our hospital newsletter and the Ohio Speech Language and Hearing Association’s website.  It turned out to be a very effective marketing tool. The responses from everyone who read it were positive.  I was very proud of Ashley and the small part I had played in her life.

So, I hope I have inspired you to come up with your own marketing story.  I guarantee it will have a positive effect on the patients and you will find it professionally rewarding.   Please check with your employer before looking up any former patients to assure you are not breaking any HIPAA laws.  We were able to look up Ashley as it was approved as a marketing story.

 

Terry Wiegel M.S.CCC-SLP is the director of rehabilitative services at Dayton Children’s Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio.  She has been a speech language pathologist for almost 32 years, working mostly with pediatrics.  Terry is also the public relations and marketing director for the Ohio Speech Language and Hearing Association.

Forging Ahead–A Private Practice Checklist

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Photo by Diego3336

(This post originally appeared on Activity Tailor)

Hooray! You’ve decided to take the plunge and start working for yourself. Now it’s time for some organization:

  1. Proper mind set: Grab a glass of wine or a cup of tea. Dream! What do you want out of this venture right now? What do you want in 10 years? Having some sort of framework for your business will help you make a lot of the decisions that lie ahead. Hey while you’re at it—write those dreams down!
  2. State license: I’m assuming your CCCs are all in order, but depending on your state and/or previous place of employment you may not be licensed by your state speech-language-hearing board. A quick phone call can save you future heartache. Most state boards will simply require proof of your degree, ASHA certification and yearly dues, but it may take some processing time. Also, be sure to find out if there are different ceu requirements. In my state, I was able to file a petition so my state and national continuing ed intervals ran concurrently.
  3. Pick an Entity: This is a fancy name for deciding how your business will be set up. You may choose to have your business income show directly on your personal income tax (sole proprietor) or establish a LLC and have the business as a completely separate enterprise. This is something to discuss with your accountant to determine the best decision for you. Invest in advice!
  4. City license/permit: I filed my “dba” (doing business as) name at the register of deeds and then applied for a city business license. Each year I’m required to calculate my gross income from services and/or goods and pay fees to the city. A dba might be “Kim Lewis, M.Ed. CCC-SLP” or “Activity Tailor”. Consider your decision. Your personal name might be very recognizable, but will it limit you if you hope to add clinicians or goods one day? Should you check if it’s an available domain name?
  5. Business banking account: You’ll want to keep your business transactions (income and payments) separate from your personal accounts. In all likelihood a checking account will suffice. However, if budgeting is not a strong suit you may want a savings account attached as well. Remember, you’ll be responsible for all your taxes at the end of the year. Transfer the estimated amount (based on that month’s earnings) on a monthly or quarterly basis if you think this will be a problem otherwise.
  6. Employer Identification Number (EIN): You or your accountant will need to apply for this with the IRS even if you are your sole employee.
  7. Malpractice insurance: You may already have this even if your employer provided some, but now that you work on your own, make sure you are covered. ASHA provides discounted rates that are very reasonable.
  8. Pricing research: Call around to some local practices and get information on pricing for both evaluations and therapy. Make sure you establish a rate that’s commensurate—don’t try to undercut the market; we all pay for that! Work out a fee schedule for various evaluations (i.e. screening vs. full eval) and therapy sessions (i.e. 30 or 45 min).
  9. Determine your wage: Be disciplined and set yourself an hourly wage. Just remember, in private practice you are only paid for patient contact hours. ***when I began to explain this item in detail, it became too huge to include here. I will post this separately in the next couple of days.
  10. Create forms and policies: OK, this is the part I dislike most, but it still needs to be dealt with—the paperwork. (*** Again, this is a line item in which the explanation went out of control. I’ll list what you need here, but will post in more detail within the week.) You will need at least the following: fee schedule, billing policy, cancellation policy, privacy policies, case history, insurance claim forms, treatment notes, monthly progress notes, evaluation summary form.
  11. Marketing Materials: At a minimum, you’ll need a business card with your contact info and perhaps space for noting appointment times, but you might also consider envelopes, letterhead or a marketing brochure. A local print shop can assist with a logo. ASHA.org has predesigned stationary that you add your info to for a reasonable price.
  12. Therapy/Evaluation Materials: This can quickly become an expensive endeavor. Tests and their forms can be quite pricey (anyone with great ideas for scoring bargains—let us know!) I would suggest purchasing the 2-3 you’ll need most frequently and adding as you see fit. Therapy materials are usually more economical and, again, you can add as you go.
  13. Make a Plan: Brainstorm some ideas for finding clients. This might include contacting local schools, pediatrician’s/doctor’s offices, or local social agencies. An ad in a local magazine might be helpful. Offer to give an educational talk at a mom’s group or senior center.
  14. Find Support: You’ll have some exciting and scary days ahead. Share it! Another private therapist willing to mentor you would be fabulous, but don’t underestimate an encouraging friend. For me, a positive attitude with limited knowledge would help me more that an experienced, but dour, practitioner.

Ask questions and good luck!

 

Kim Lewis M.Ed, CCC-SLP has a private practice for pediatrics in Greensboro, NC. She is the blogger at www.activitytailor.com, providing creative ideas for speech therapy, and the author of the Artic Attack workbook series.

Considerations for Taking the Private Practice Plunge

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Photo by Bruce Guenter

One of the great perks of being an SLP is flexibility in your work environment:  schools, hospitals, travelling therapist, out-patient clinic, nursing home…But to many, being in your own employ lingers on the horizon—a “someday” proposition both terrifying and thrilling to contemplate.  Wondering what this entails or where to start?  Consider the following:

  1. Money:  Being self-employed means an immediate increase in your pay/treatment hour.  However, this is offset by numerous factors.  You will have a lack of payment for hours without patient contact, lack of paid vacation time, lack of reimbursement for dues or CEUs.  There may also be a lag between time of service and time of payment.  Don’t forget to also consider loss of health benefits (or increased cost for self-pay) and an increased need for malpractice insurance.  If you choose to start your own clinic you will gain the additional expense of renting space.  Initially, you may want to only do home visits or contract with a school (usually at a very nominal charge per treatment hour).  Another possibility is to rent space within a practice (e.g. audiologist) that can give you an established infrastructure (office/billing assistance) with a built-in caseload.
  2. Time/Scheduling:  If you are currently overwhelmed with your caseload numbers, private practice can seem positively luxurious.  Due to insurance constraints (not to mention practical constraints if doing home visits), you will likely see only one patient/hour.  You can also schedule as it suits you, which may alleviate the stress of your own child care issues.  However, you will be responsible for increasing or maintaining your own caseload and the uncertainty is not for the faint of heart or financially tenuous.
  3. Lack of Co-workers:  There may be days where losing a coworker or two sounds just perfect.  But self-employment can be rather isolating.  You may not have easy access to other professionals to bounce ideas off of.  You may find yourself in your own company a lot as you travel around town.  Even if you contract in a school setting,  your “outsider” status will often have you feeling just outside the loop.
  4. My Way:  Of course your chance to call the shots will be a big draw.  Choose to specialize in one age group or with one diagnosis if you choose.  Make recommendations for treatment frequency/time and even techniques that may not have been possible to you in other settings.
  5. The Buck Stops Here:  Unless you employ a billing manager, you will find yourself with additional non-therapy responsibilities.  Be honest with yourself.  Can you firmly enforce cancellation/billing policies?  Do you have the time to pursue insurance filing? (Just a note:  I would recommend not being a preferred provider and asking patients to self-file initially.  Otherwise you’ll likely be too overwhelmed with “non-paying” tasks.  But be sure your market will support this!)

I’m sure there are plenty of other considerations as well that I’ve neglected to mention.  Please don’t be put off; be inspired!  You can do this!  Good luck!

 

Kim Lewis M.Ed, CCC-SLP has a private practice for pediatrics in Greensboro, NC.  She is the blogger at www.activitytailor.com, providing creative ideas for speech therapy, and the author of the Artic Attack workbook series.