Back to school / The reach and impact of Twitter and Blogging

First day at new school is comingAs a number of my regular readers and Twitter contacts already know I’ve started a new lecturing job at a University in Australia. Having taken the last 3 weeks or so to get familiar with new surroundings, work out how things are done in my new workplace, and prepare for my teaching responsibilities, tomorrow is the first day of the new teaching semester. For anyone back in the UK this is going to sound a bit weird as they are now firmly in the middle of summer vacation. But yes, in Australia the teaching semesters are ‘the wrong way around’ – so I’ve started in July ready to begin teaching for the second semester (i.e. in the middle of the calendar AND academic years). So this is all very exciting and of course a little nerve-racking given that this is my first full-time teaching position. In addition to the lecturing, I will also be picking up some clinical education responsibilities as the semester progresses, which at this moment in time is probably my stronger area simply because this is where the bulk of my teaching experience lies.

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Becoming competent

While studying for a PhD directly after completing a Masters qualification in speech and language therapy does offer many advantages, such as not having the opportunity to lose the habit of studying regularly and not having to adjust to a fairly hefty loss of income as would occur if moving into a PhD after a period of work, there are also disadvantages.

I has three years Excel and Powerpoint ..: that may be but it doesn't make you competent, or does it?I completed a Masters course in Language Pathology in September 2007. Rather than moving directly into a clinical speech and language therapy post within the NHS (the most usual route for newly qualified SLTs) I continued on to PhD study/research. Generally, newly qualified SLTs (i.e. freshly qualified from University) register as ‘newly qualified ‘ with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT; i.e. the professional body for SLT in the UK) and are expected to become ‘competent’ SLTs (i.e. fully qualified) within the first 12-24 months of clinical practice. Those paying attention to the dates would notice that it is now 4 years (48 months) since I qualified, hence well beyond the 12-24 months that most people will generally register. I recently got a firm wake up call on this by a recent survey of newly qaulified therapists issued by the RCSLT. I opened the link to the survey and saw I had to enter the year I qualified. Rather than being faced with an open text box, I was confronted with a list of check boxes my only options were the years 2011, 2010, and 2009. Needless to say this had two effects on me: 1) it made me feel old (I’m not quite sure why); and 2) it made me realise that in the eyes of my professional body, I should be a proper ‘grown-up’ SLT by now.

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If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

By this time I was hoping to have a post ready to go something along the lines of “woo I finally submitted my PhD and now I can have a life again” (although whether I had one before starting a PhD may be subject to debate). Sad to say that post is a bit premature but I will definitely be submitting my PhD (first submission before viva) within the next 7 days as I really have no choice unless I want to pay Newcastle University another bundle of tuition fees and plead with my funder (the wonderful Economic and Social Research Council; ESRC) for just a little more time. In reality though there will be no problem whatsoever in submitting before I absolutely need to as it only really needs a bit if tidying up and making sure all the dots and the crosses are present and correct.

If you allow it to, it will keep you running foreverHowever, if there was no such deadline in place it may be another matter; It has become evident that it is very difficult to ‘let go’ of my PhD. No doubt this is down to it being a big part of my life for the last four years and it’s more or less defined who I am: ‘Hi I’m Chris, I’m studying/researching for a PhD in speech and language sciences’ or something to that effect has become a fairly well worn introduction. Read more of this post