Every so often, on social media, there’s a resurgence of “old” discussions: caseload vs workload, pseudoscience vs science, baseball vs football (okay, not really or if it is I don’t listen). Usually these resurgences are pretty regular, every 5-6 months or so on twitter and every couple of weeks on Facebook.
A couple of months ago, I created an online survey to ask SLPs about their workload manageability and what they’ve done to alleviate the situation (if it was negative). The results…astounded me…
and saddened me…
and, to be honest, disheartened me. The results are below:
In the interest of keeping the blog post manageable, I’m not going to include all the questions (what state, fulltime/partime, location, etc.)…But, I am going to discuss the meaty questions. I may follow-up on the others later on (or really work on it and present it somewhere…we’ll see).
There were a total of 770 people who participated in the survey. They came from almost all the states and a few provinces. Most states (I haven’t literally gone through and counted) were represented. The lowest number of respondents was 3 (Montana, Wyoming, and a few others) and the highest was 66 (California).
Question: Do you feel your caseload is unmanageable?
- 766 respondents, 51% sometimes due to paperwork (n=392), 24.28% yes (n = 186), 24.54% no (n=188)
Question: If you feel your caseload is unmanageable, have you contacted your supervisor?
- 614 respondents, 64.1% yes (n-392), 35.83% no (n=220) (156 skipped the question)
Question: If you feel your caseload is unmanageable, have you contacted your state association?
- 619 respondents (151 skipped). Yes 3.88% (n=24), No = 96.12% (n=595)
Question: If you feel your caseload is unmanageable, why have you not contacted a supervisor or state association?
- 440 Respondents (330 skipped). I did and it was fixed = .45% (n=2), Fear of reprisal = 5.68% (n=25), I don’t know how = 6.14% (n=27), I contacted my supervisor and it was resolved = 9.55% (n=42), There’s no use, they won’t listen anyway = 20.68% (n=91), Not applicable my caseload is great = 24.32% (n=107), Other = 33.18% (n=146).
- Other included: budget cuts, lack of applicants
Looking at the pure data, even though it looks as though 75% of SLPs have felt their caseload was unmanageable, only 61% of those have contacted a supervisor to tell them they were unhappy and only 4% have ever contacted a state association. Yet, only 9.5% said their supervisor fixed the problem so they didn’t have to contact the state association. What happened to the rest?
For those of you who have not contacted a supervisor or state association, how do you expect things to change? The “powers-that-be” cannot fix what they don’t know is wrong – and we cannot rely on someone else to report it…we have to!
Another thing that bothers me is those of you that did not contact a state association because you didn’t know how or were afraid of reprisal if you did. That tells me that state associations need to step up to the plate and advocate for their members. If you have a strong association, members should feel free to contact a representative to discuss issues.
Finally, we are constantly told that we cannot use the excuse of “not enough time” as a reason to not have students on our caseloads. It is time that school districts and states quit using the “not enough money” excuse for creating a system designed to fail those who need it most. No matter how skilled we are, if we are over extended we cannot serve our clients as well as they deserve.
I am constantly hearing “ASHA doesn’t do enough for school-based SLPs,” and “why should we belong to ASHA they don’t do anything to help.” My standard answer (supported by the data here) is that ASHA can’t fix a problem of which they are unaware.
It is time to advocate for ourselves. We MUST be willing to step up and use our voices when things aren’t right. By remaining quiet, we may keep a job we will end up hating, but we are hurting ourselves, our fellow SLPs, and ultimately our clients. We are, in one sense, being unethical in NOT advocating for adequate help for our clients (that stung a bit didn’t it…I’m sorry that it hurt, but I’m not sorry for pointing it out…someone had to say it).
For those of you that say it’s no use…I’d like you to check out Rachel Wynn’s post and the attention she has helped draw to unrealistic (and unethical) practices of productivity in skilled nursing facilities. There’s also posts in the ASHA Leader about this subject. Changes are happening because someone had the nerve to stand up and advocate for their clients. One person started it…ONE is all it takes to start.
I truly hope that each and every one of you will speak up for yourselves and your fellow SLPs. Contact your state associations to help build caseload caps, report those districts that are not adhering, contact ASHA for additional support. Please, let me know how the battle goes…I truly look forward to hearing ASHA’s answer to ALL of our requests.
Until then….Adventure on!