As a speech-language pathologist (SLP), you bring a lot of experience and specialized knowledge to an interprofessional team. However, ensuring that your teammates understand what you do and what knowledge you provide can be challenging. Here are ASHA’s tips for advocating for yourself on an IPP team [PDF].
Don’t be afraid to share your opinion and expertise. IPP teams are collaborative. This means that all members are responsible for contributing their expertise to the assessment and treatment plan. You will often be the only SLP on an IPP team, and it’s important that you represent that perspective. If you identify an issue that you, as an SLP, have the expertise to address, be sure to say so. Your patient or student is counting on you!
IPP teams are focused around helping those in our care. When you talk to your team about your role and value, be sure to put it in terms of how you can help your patient or student and their family. Don’t just list the types of services, such as assessments or treatments, you can perform. Instead of listing articulation treatment as a type of service you provide, describe your role as helping a student or patient communicate successfully in the classroom or community.
When working on an interprofessional team, you may be the only SLP. Always keep this in mind. Specialized terms or specific disorders may be common knowledge to SLPs, but that doesn’t mean those terms are familiar to teachers or health care professionals from other disciplines. When talking with your team, always define more technical terms—or avoid them entirely. For example, instead of saying “AAC” use the fully spelled out acronym—“alternative and augmentative communication”—or say “using a variety of techniques or tools to communicate.”
As an SLP, we help our patients and students in many different ways. Your IPP teammates may not be aware of all the types of support SLPs provide. Even teammates who have worked with an SLP may not know how we can help outside that context. For example, if they were part of an IPP team that helped a person with stuttering, they may not be aware that SLPs also work with swallowing disorders, cognitive communication, and more. It’s our job to make sure our colleagues know how we can help.
If you need help showing your team the value that an SLP’s expertise can bring, often the best way is through real-life, practical examples. Fortunately, we have just the resource: These case studies from ASHA’s Special Interest Groups show audiologists and SLPs collaborating with their colleagues to address cases ranging from stroke rehabilitation to stuttering to language disorders. Download these case studies to see real-life examples of IPP in action.