Home Schools The Possibilities are Endless!

The Possibilities are Endless!

by Annick Tumolo

Having been an SLP since 2004, I know the feeling of “burn out” as well as being comfortable. I have learned that there is far too much opportunity in this field to settle for status quo or unhappiness. Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned was recognizing that simply venting to family, friends and fellow SLPs was only a short-term solution.  I had to learn to be a doer and motivate myself within my chosen profession.

I often see many Facebook posts about SLPs feeling tired of the profession, often citing endless paperwork, disrespectful supervisors, caseload overload, lack of resources, unreasonable expectations and unfair pay. They are often looking to change careers for a “quick fix” to these problems, but overlook the changes they can make within their profession.

I was feeling frustrated at my district job six years ago and my lack of connection with other SLPs. I did my best to reach out to others and was ultimately nominated by my colleagues to become the lead SLP. That experience empowered me to talk to administration about changing to the 3:1 service delivery model. My presentation worked!

From then on, monthly SLP meetings were built into our indirect weeks and the 15 of us worked and supported each other throughout the school year. Our motto was “we’re all in this together,” because we are the only people who knew what our jobs are like on a day-to-day basis.

Fast forward six years, I loved my position as lead but craved a change. One fateful day I happened to be talking to a friend/fellow SLP in my district who said, “Annick, why don’t we just quit and start our own private practice?” My response, “Why don’t we?” My friend laughed but I wasn’t joking.

That was the question I needed to ask myself. I hadn’t thought about that option before. Coming out of our master’s program, the questions on everyone’s mind were: Are you going to the schools? Hospital? Or private practice? We never asked each other: “Do you think you’ll ever start your own practice?” For me, that question was life altering. Although my friend was kidding, her words were far from a joke for me. Within months, I registered my business, created a website and printed business cards.

I now grow my practice while working as a part-time, school- based SLP. But it doesn’t end there. I supervised three graduate students earlier in my career and one them recommended me to a professor as a possible lecturer. I jumped at that opportunity and have made yet another discovery: I love teaching adults! I am about to begin my second semester teaching college courses.

Looking to the future, I want to continue to teach more classes, build my practice, present at conferences and perhaps look into other areas of our profession such as telepractice and corporate speech therapy. Whatever I do, it is comforting knowing the possibilities are endless within our field.


Annick Tumolo, MS, CCC-SLP is currently a school based SLP, lecturer at San Francisco Sate University and founder of Naturally Speaking San Francisco, a private practice specializing in home-based speech and language treatment. She is Hanen certified in It Takes Two To Talk ® and holds a Augmentative and Alternative Communication Assessment and Services Certificate awarded by the Diagnostic Center of Northern California. Like her on Facebook, follow her on Pinterest or contact her at Annick@naturallyspeakingsf.com.

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Gerald Carlson January 30, 2015 - 11:17 am

Good for you. I did the same thing after 25 years as Chief SLP at a large urban hospital. Never regretted a day. Best decision I ever made. And now, after “officially” being retired at 73 years of age I still do some consulting at a small rural nursing home.

Annick Tumolo February 5, 2015 - 1:51 am

Thank you!! It’s so great to know I have a lifelong career to enjoy.

Gerald Carlson February 5, 2015 - 4:22 pm

Thank you for your response. In my haste to respond to you I left out some information. I have always been hospital/clinic based, never schools. When I left the hospital I eventually established contracts with 15 rural hospitals and nursing homes. Fortunately, at that time I was “the only show in town” as rehab companies had not been established then. I eventually winnowed my contracts down to 6 and then down to one hospital/nursing home and another free standing nursing home. As you consider corporate, if I may, be cautious regarding ethics and workload requirements. I would recommend checking out the Gray Matter Therapy website http://graymattertherapy.com. The owner of this site (a SLP) has a very strong interest and concern about corporate. She does not disregard it but has good ideas re what to look for, how to negotiate, etc.
Lecturing and presenting offers great opportunities. A taught part-time for 12 years at the grad level (neuroanatomy and aphasia). I eventually had to forsake that position because new policies required a Ph.D. and I only have a M.A. Nevertheless it was another great experience in my career.
I’m not ready to quit because I love what I do and as I say, “I will continue to work as long as I’m physically able and cognitively intact:)”
Not sure what help I might be, but free to contact me re questions you may have.
Jerry Carlson

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