Graduates of the class of 2015: you look famished! Come. Join us at the table. The rich aroma of your accomplishments is wafting from academia’s kitchen, and the first course of your career is about to be served.

Your clinical fellowship, the preparatory phase of your career, is now upon you. Sit up. Feast your eyes, grab that fork, and purse your lips.

Expect a mix of textured opinions from those who’ll surround you. From the doctors. The nurses. Your CF supervisor. Certainly, your patients and their families. However off-putting this mix may be, however bitter it may taste, please know this is part of starting out. Of being new. Don’t become orally-hypervigilant to the feedback of others. You can chew it all, lubricate the mix with a bit of your own ideas, and manipulate the bolus of their view points until you form something cohesive (so long as you are careful not to bite off more than you can chew).

In graduate school, your focus has been on acquiring knowledge. With textbooks in hand and instructors nearby, you felt safe throughout that process. In the professional setting, however, safety will not be enough. You will also need to be timely. Safe and timely. There will be so much on your plate every morning. So many orders to fill. So many consults to complete. You must move each of those orders from the anterior portion of the work day to the posteriorly portion, in a safe, timely manner and propel them through the pillars of your expertise with efficiently. That is the only way you’ll ever clean your plate (and guess what: nobody gets to clock out and go home without a clean plate).

The first few years in the field will be hectic. Lightning fast. Apneic at times. Easy to miss. Know that it gets easier. The tight, round UES of your professionalism will relax and open up when the time is right. Clinician peristalsis will kick in, will move through you like a wave with each morsel of experience, and once that happens, you will be nourished. Hydrated. You will start to feel satisfied and full with the person you’ve become.

Today is the day, graduates: you are discharged to the profession of speech-language pathology. No modifications or restrictions. Yes, it’s a lot to swallow, but truly, your prognosis is excellent.

Eat up!