My externship provided an incredible transition to my first year as a professional. Although I worked with more and more independence throughout the year, I had a safety net and definitely continued to ask questions of my supervisors. But with one walk across a stage and a quick switch of a tassel, my safety net was gone.
I started my first job as an educational audiologist a few months after graduation. With only three audiologists covering a large school district, I found myself working on my own within a few days! Of course my colleagues knew I was a new graduate and I could always ask for help. However, I quickly found myself alone in meetings needing to have the answers when talking to parents, administrations, and teachers.
Everyone’s first post-grad experience will likely be a little different. Given that I transitioned from an externship at a large children’s hospital to an educational audiology position, what I learned and the way I learned it was certainly unique. Here’s a list of a few things I learned that just might help you as you adjust to calling yourself “Doctor”:
- Be confident in what you know (because you do know it!). While in grad school, we eat, sleep, and breathe audiology. Between my clinical experiences, didactic coursework, and externship, I was more prepared than I thought upon graduation. The one lesson I hadn’t fully learned was how to trust myself. In the past year I have gained so much confidence in my ability to make the best clinical decisions for my students, teachers, and families.
- Know how to ask for help when you need it. As you might imagine, grad school doesn’t teach you everything. That’s part of the reason we have CEUs. As an educational audiologist, I jumped into a whole new world of IEPs, special education, and more. It was important for me to identify a support network of colleagues and supervisors who I could go to when I needed advice. I’ve also found myself asking for help from professional mentors that I met while I was a student – their experience is invaluable!
- Stay in touch with friends. Our profession is so small and close knit – it’s amazing. I have stayed in touch with so many fantastic new audiologists that I met through grad school, my externship, and my incredible experiences volunteering with national SAA. We swap advice, ask about challenging patients, keep each other informed about job opportunities, and ask for opinions about experiences with the latest technologies. You’ve likely built a network as a student – reap the rewards in the post-grad world!
- You’re not done learning. Whether it’s on-the-job training, new technology, or CEUs, grad school isn’t the end. I’m definitely trying to navigate the world of licensure, continuing education, certifications, professional organizations, etc.
- Stay involved. I joined the Academy through the Fellow Up! Program after I graduated in May. (Which *shameless plug* is so easy and a non-committal way to experience Academy membership until December!) As a result, I was able to apply to volunteer with the Academy reviewing posters for AAA 2019 in Columbus. I look forward to exploring other volunteer opportunities with the Academy in the future.
Just as grad school involved learning day-by-day, I figured out early on that life as a new professional wasn’t all that different. I’m still learning, trying to do my best for my patients, and enjoying the surprises as they come. I love my support networks and I hope they continue to grow as I do.
Jeni Whittaker is the immediate past president of the SAA Board of Directors. She currently works as an Educational Audiologist for the San Francisco Unified School District.
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