Saturday, March 24, 2012

Moving into the 21st Century with CF Supervision and Record-Keeping

Becoming a certified speech-language pathologist is a complicated and time-consuming process!  It should be--this is a very complex and broad field covering speech, language, and swallowing disorders from birth to the end of life; therefore, for recent speech graduates, there is a major step to go through before becoming a holder of the national certificate (Certificate of Clinical Competence or CCC-SLP).   All graduates must complete a Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY) supervised by a certified speech-language pathologist.

Ashley Robinson, CF

I personally am such a holder of the CCC-SLP credentials.  Yeah!!!!  I got this piece of paper in 1987 and have loved it ever since.  This year, I have had the privilege of supervising a CF in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Ashley Robinson, who is a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina.  We both work in the same school system--she is at a middle and high school, and is also the sole speech pathologist on the Assistive Technology Team.  I work in an nearby elementary school.  Not only do we have to keep up with the CFY paperwork, but there is additional North Carolina Board of Examiners (for state license) paperwork and observation requirements.       The Chapel Hill school system also requires new teacher observations and weekly check-ins by a mentor (me) .

    Both Ashley and I are very busy with our actual speech jobs, so when given the task of arranging CF observations and consultations, I needed to set up a system that was efficient in terms of recording observation hours, and sharing notes.  I chose to keep track of this all using Google forms and spreadsheets. (Ashley has given me permission to write about all of this, and will be previewing this before publishing.)

I’ve created a Google Form for observations, which throws all of my observation data into a spreadsheet that I’ve shared with her online.   This transparent online record-keeping has been helpful for both of us!  Here is a step-by-step on how to do this.

CFY form
1.  Create a Google form  A tutorial for doing this is here.  I ended up with a form that looked like the one to the left.  Depending on your CF's setting, you may want different questions; however, these are very easy to customize and make depending on your needs. If you have an iPad, you can send the form right to your iPad screen for easy access. Here is how.
The form is then connected automatically to a Google spreadsheet that has the same name as the form.

CFY spreadsheet
2.  Share your Google spreadsheet with your Clinical Fellow  If you have Gmail, this should be easy for you.  By sharing, if you as the supervisor should unfortunately be unable to finish out your year, your CF will have documentation of observations and supervision thus far. The transition to a new supervisor will then be easier.

3.  Take notes of observations and share/email instantly  If you have an iPad, you can use the 'Notes' app that all iPads have and email notes straight from there to your CF. You can also take notes right into your Google form or set up a shared document just for your quick consultations or observations.   Laptops, desktops, or iPads all work for sharing.  All operate within the Google environment, and are wonderful to have for an instant open line of communication.

Unfortunately, ASHA, NC State Board of Examiners, and the school mentor teacher program have not yet jumped on the technology bandwagon for CF record-keeping (or at least I haven't found the e-versions yet), so once my Google forms and spreadsheets are filled out, Ashley and I have still have needed to go to back to paper every few months and fill out the SLPCF Report and Rating Form. along with other paper forms for the other agencies (school and state board), but with our digital documentation and notes, this has not been a difficult task.  The paper documentation just seems like it belongs in the previous century---necessary to complete to get to the goal, but antiquated. 

In summary, supervising a young, talented, and enthusiastic CF has been the highlight of my year!  Adding 21st century record-keeping has made the job less tedious and has kept the lines of communication open between us, even though we work in separate schools.  Hopefully in the near future, the large organizations of ASHA, and the state licensure board will follow suit, and allow for more online record-keeping.

To my fellow SLPs, if you have the opportunity to supervise, take it!   Watching sessions and consulting with recent graduates has rejuvenated my therapy sessions like nothing else has!

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