I knew I wanted to be a speech pathologist by my sophomore year in high school, after working in a daycare center over summer vacation. I became aware of the importance of effective communication through caring for a little four-year-old girl there with cerebral palsy. I have not wavered from that commitment even once since then, back in 1975.
Throughout my career, I worked in a variety of settings, including state institutions, group homes, rehab hospitals, home health, and skilled nursing facilities. After getting my kids raised and on their own, I decided to be a “traveling SLP.” I lived in Kansas at the time and had my Kansas state license, as well as a long-expired Nebraska state license. In the process of reinstating that one license, I decided to just dive in and get 16 more simultaneously (I’m a little obsessive that way!), which would allow me to travel and work wherever I wanted. Thereafter, I traveled from Oregon to Delaware and everywhere in between, experiencing as much of America as I could along the way. After two years of being on the road, I was ready to switch to working from home. So I signed on with Lingraphica, TalkPath Live’s parent company, as they were venturing into the exciting new field of telepractice. With Lingraphica’s encouragement, I got 32 additional state licenses, bringing my personal total to 49—all of the continental United States.
I don’t know how many other members of this group are out there, but I can’t imagine that there are many. If I’d known what I was biting off, I may not have done it—getting 49 licenses is a daunting task! Getting just one is a serious enough business, as any SLP can tell you, but applying for 32 at once is incredibly arduous. I have been fingerprinted at least a dozen times. I had to submit multiple requests for my transcripts from Wichita State University. I became good friends with the postmaster as I mailed towers of packets of application materials. I wrote many, many checks. And I’m sure that my first 17 states hate me for asking them to send verifications of my licensure to the other 32 states!
Now, looking back on it, it’s a blur … kind of like childbirth! The sheer labor of it all in the moment is overwhelming. But once it’s over? The end result was well worth the effort—invaluable, really.
The amazing thing to me about holding all these multiple licenses is that I can treat people all across the country, from all walks of life, whatever their age or condition. It’s like I’m continuing to travel, only I meet with my clients over a virtual connection instead of in various therapy rooms. I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to form the same type of relationships with them as I did when doing therapy in person. True, I can’t give them an actual hug when they do something awesome (which is often!), but that one drawback is more than made up for when you consider how far today’s online SLP can actually reach: to anyone, anywhere, anytime, wherever they made reside, so long as they have the will to do the work and to grow. And that works both ways!