Embarking on a Lifelong Continuing Education Journey

Starting The Year Out Right

Karen KroggIn January 2015, The ASHA Leader ran a short piece about some of our members' New Year's resolutions. There was one particular resolution that caught our attention. It was submitted by Karen Krogg, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) from Springfield, Ohio, who wrote:

"My New Year's resolution is to continue to attend continuing education courses for augmentative and alternative communication! I have several patients for whom I am in the process of getting devices. I am learning as much as possible, so that I can provide the absolute best quality of care for these children. They deserve to have a voice, and I am blessed to be able to help them out!"

We contacted Karen to learn more about her commitment to professional development and her experience taking courses offered by ASHA Approved CE Providers. We had no idea of the breadth of her interests and desire to acquire new knowledge and skills.

How It All Started

Karen has been an SLP since 2011. She joined the ASHA CE Registry in 2012 and has already earned her first Award for Continuing Education (ACE)! Karen challenged herself to learn as much as she could in a variety of subject areas that would help her provide the best treatment possible for her clients. It is fair to say that she's anything but a casual participant in courses offered for ASHA CEUs!

Karen started down this career path because her father, who is a medical practitioner, suggested she look into speech-language pathology when she was in high school. She decided to start taking courses and pursue her career in speech-language pathology after her freshman year in college, when she met with a professor at Kent State University. He explained that there were opportunities to work with an array of clients in different types of settings, and his words resonated with Karen. A sedentary job did not appeal to Karen, and having variety in the career she selected was important.

Her Career Begins

Karen began her career in a pediatric outpatient setting, working with children with autism spectrum disorder. Her clients ranged in age from 1½ to 13. She also worked 1 day a week at an elementary school with children who have language difficulties. Starting in August 2015, she began working full time in the elementary school setting. She selects continuing education courses by examining the therapy needs of the children on her caseload and determining what clinical skills are necessary to better serve them. Karen feels that the augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) courses she's taken-particularly those focused on AAC evaluation-have been very beneficial.

Karen talked about a 5-year-old client with autism who was nonverbal. After she conducted the AAC evaluation, she recommended a communication device. Immediately after she began using the device, she started to babble and imitate words.

"I get so excited when my kids are making progress!" Karen exclaimed.

She also teamed with a physical therapist (PT) to treat this child by building language around gross motor activities. For example, they targeted core vocabulary, such as "up" and "down," while the child was going up and down a ladder. Her client quickly began to use both words appropriately in the context of other situations!

Advice

Karen and HusbandAs a young professional with her graduate school and clinical fellowship experience fresh in mind, Karen offers this advice to speech-language pathologists entering the field: "Just take a deep breath! You aren't going to know all of the right answers at first. Don't be scared to ask your colleagues questions!"

Medieval History and Moo

In her personal life, Karen is obsessed with the history of medieval England (especially the Wars of the Roses and the Tudors). She has a huge collection of both fiction and nonfiction books on these topics. When she is not reading books about medieval history, she has found time to read the Game of Thrones book series...twice! Recently, Karen and her husband traveled to Ireland and saw the Cliffs of Moher. While they were there, they sought out as many Games of Thrones filming locations as possible.

Karen and MooIn addition to her husband, there is a very important third member of her family-their "boggle" (beagle/Boston terrier mix) Moo. His name was inspired by his black-and-white coat, which reminded Karen of a dairy cow. "He is lucky to be so cute and lovable because he is full of mischief and enjoys digging in the carpet, clawing through dry wall, and generally creating a path of destruction in the house."

In addition to keeping an eye on Moo, working, and taking courses offered for ASHA CEUs, Karen will continue writing her blog The Pedi Speechie, where she shares her therapy ideas and materials for pediatric SLPs. She has yet another idea brewing: She would like to write a novel for young adults. This idea originated when she was reading with her older children in therapy and found that she was able to target many different therapy goals through this process.

"I think it would be fun to write something my students would find interesting!" she said.

Back To The Future

When asked about future continuing education undertakings, Karen indicated that she would really like to become certified in a therapy approach for children with apraxia of speech. In order to accomplish this, she must successfully complete a series of courses, projects, and clinical experiences. It sounds like Karen's next ACE might be an additional outcome of becoming certified in this therapy approach!

Karen describes herself as a "lifelong learner," and she believes intellectual growth is just as important now as when she was in school.

"The best part about taking courses and earning CEUs has been to watch my patients and students benefit from my increased knowledge," she said. "I know I still have a lot to learn! It's been such an informative and exciting journey so far."

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