I promised Jonathan that I would write a guest blog about dysphagia service provision in a Speech-Language Pathology private practice (BizSLP) for his Dysphagia Café. How and when I am writing it are pretty telling.

Picture me:

  • Totally relaxed.
  • Sitting comfortably in my cozy, pretty new office space during traditional work hours.
  • Sipping a cup of dark roast coffee courtesy of the cute little Keurig that was a must have machine for my kitchen!

This scene is very different from other settings I have experienced! Blogging in itself is typically considered non-productive time by employers of dysphagia therapists. Other mandatory but unproductive activities may include documentation; collaboration with colleagues or other healthcare professionals; fielding spontaneous questions from families or visitors to our workplace; bathroom breaks … It’s really a billable time issue, but that’s a whole different blog topic!

I think that the greatest advantage of the BizSLP is the power to define productivity for the practice. This benefit reduces stress immensely! My own definition of a productive activity is one that

  • benefits a client directly or indirectly and is related to his/her Plan of Care;
  • enhances treatment of a client; or
  • builds recognition of my company and our commitment to quality, creative, collaborative treatment of communication and related disorders, including dysphagia.

Aside from the autonomy to define productivity in terms of benefit to the client/patient vs returns for stockholders, the basics of BizSLP dysphagia therapy are pretty much the same as other settings.

Like all other SLPs, I am governed by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and must:

  • Abide by our Scope of Practice and Code of Ethics;
  • Treat within my level of competence; and
  • Strive to provide evidence-based services to my patients/clients.

In closing, I will say that although I love my life as a BizSLP, it isn’t for everyone. The work stays with you 24/7, income can be erratic, and dysphagia therapists employed by large companies can earn quite a bit more than I. My dysphagia caseload is also a bit too low at this time for me to consider pursuing a Board Recognized Specialty in Swallowing, and I do regret that just a bit.

Still, as I sit back and sip my coffee while researching and brainstorming the best treatment to help improve patient quality of life in a particularly challenging case, I know I would not choose to go back to a situation where this time I am spending would be undervalued.  I define this as productive time that significantly benefits my patients/clients, and that is the beauty of dysphagia therapy in private practice!