Losing a job is hard, especially when it was out of your control. Especially when it was your “first full-time SLP job.” For those of you who do not know me personally, let me catch you up here… For those of you who already know my situation, skip down 3 paragraphs.
I have lived in Pennsylvania my whole life and never planned on leaving this state. I recently graduated this May with a Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology. This is a field where individuals address a multitude of things, including cognitive/communication/swallowing disorders for all ages. I was so happy to graduate after 6 years of school and get started in a field that I love.
In my field, we are required to complete a 9 month clinical fellowship (CF) after graduating before we can obtain our credentials – Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCCs). In Pennsylvania, we are required to hold our CCCs before we can apply for a license whereas most other states offer a provisional or temporary license for CFs. I accepted a position at a skilled nursing facility and was employed by them for the last 9 weeks as a Speech Language Pathologist Clinical Fellow. Last Friday, my company “realized” that they could not meet the necessary supervision requirements in PA for Medicare B patients as PA STILL doesn’t have a temporary or provisional licenses in place for new CFs like myself. Myself and a colleague completing her CF were “laid off” permanently. The company had given us no prior warning/indication that we would soon be unemployed.
Many SNFs cannot offer 100% supervision to CFs for treatment of B (long term care) patients and those patients are the majority of the caseload. There is just not enough staffing most places to allow this to happen. Even if a supervisor knows that my treatment is exceptional with a B patient she still would have to provide 100% supervision to me, even though I hold a Master of Science in Speech Pathology, because I do not hold a state license that allows me to bill for those services directly. In states with provisional or temporary licenses for CFs this is not an issue as Medicare does not view someone with a license as a student who requires 100% supervision for Medicare B patients and that CF can bill for the services rendered under his or her name. The laws that would establish a provisional license in PA for CFs are written, regulations for the laws have been written by the Board of Examiners; however, the regulations sit somewhere “in legal.” I have contacted multiple legislators regarding this issue.
In the mean time, it’s hard not to feel discouraged. It took me a while to find this medical placement that I thought I would be able to complete my clinical fellowship position at, and I am not enjoying the job application process. There are a lot of jobs offered right now – out of state. There are jobs in PA advertised that require CCCs and a license (I have neither right now – Yay!) such as home health and SNFs with no other SLPs.
A lot of people (especially recruiters) keep telling me “You’re just starting out – you shouldn’t be picky til you get your CCCs. Once you have them, so many more doors will be open.” It’s not that I don’t understand their point. But I also am a human being who has lived in PA my whole life, who has a great supportive network in my current area, who has a fiance with a steady job, who loves this area and the people in it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy traveling and exploring – it’s that this is always home for me at the end of the day.
So I will continue to attempt to find a placement in PA and hope something good turns up. I will trust that the LORD will help me end up where I am supposed to be.
If you wish to address/voice your opinion of the lack of provisional license for SLP-CFs, here is a link to Find Your Legislator. Myself and other new SLP graduates in PA appreciate it.