The Power of One

Diane R. Paul, PhD, CCC-SLP
Director, Clinical Issues in Speech-Language Pathology
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

One song can spark a moment. One flower can wake the dream. One tree can start a forest. One bird can herald spring. One smile begins a friendship. One handclasp lifts a soul. One star can guide a ship at sea. One word can frame the goal. One vote can change a nation. One sunbeam lights a room. One candle wipes out darkness. One laugh will conquer gloom. One step must start each journey. One word must start a prayer. One hope will raise our spirits. One touch can show you care. One voice can speak with wisdom. One heart can know what's true. One life can make the difference. You see, it's up to YOU!

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One voice can shape the policies that guide the work of audiologists and speech-language pathologists nationwide. Your voice needs to be heard whenever ASHA creates or revises practice policy documents and reports (e.g., scope of practice, preferred practice patterns, position statements, technical reports, guidelines, and knowledge and skills documents). Your participation in the peer review process can lead to large or small conceptual and wording changes that can greatly improve these documents.

Changes in clinical practice based on new evidence, new federal legislation, or expansions in the scope of practice may motivate the development or revision of ASHA policy documents. On the basis of input from members, volunteer leaders, staff, and external audiences, a decision is made to create or revise a practice policy document or report. Typically, a group is formed to develop a draft document or proposed revision. The draft document/revision then undergoes peer review (usually an online process). Two types of peer review may be conducted concurrently or sequentially:

  • Select peer review -the draft document/proposed revision is sent to a targeted, select set of individuals with acknowledged subject matter expertise.
  • Widespread peer review -the availability of the draft document/ proposed revision is widely announced to ASHA members via the ASHA Leader, the ASHA Web site, division newsletters, and messages to e-mail distribution lists.

A structured form is provided for reviewers to use in submitting their comments online. Then peer review comments are compiled and sent to the group working on the document. Each voice matters-the group is responsible for considering every comment and either incorporating it or providing a justification as to why the comment is not reflected in the final version.

Whether you are a student, clinical fellow, or more seasoned professional, you bring a unique perspective. By participating in the peer review process, you can contribute your clinical expertise and observations to ensure that the needs and interests of clinical populations and pediatric audiologists are represented. Peer review offers you an opportunity to review state-of-the-art practice documents within or outside your area of expertise. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists are encouraged to review documents in both professions.

The benefits of peer review go two ways: You share your expertise, and you gain new knowledge and hone your own critical thinking and writing skills. By participating in the inclusive peer review process, you are strengthening the discipline and advocating for the children you serve. You'll feel ownership in the completed document. Indeed, one voice makes a big difference.

Peer review is an easy way for you to get more involved in the Association and exert your opinion and expertise about what we do or don't do as professionals.  Here is a listing of current draft documents for peer review.

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