We all know that evidence-based practice (EBP) is important. To practice ethically, we combine current evidence with our professional experience and clients’ values to create the best treatment plan we can. In the past, my game plan was to do as many free CEUs as I could find. But the crazy thing is that the more time I spent “learning” this way, the less I felt like I knew. I learned some tips and tricks, but often I walked away wanting more.
When you consider our scope of practice, it can be intimidating to try to keep up on the most current clinical research. To help, here is a step-by-step process for how to make EBP a bit more manageable. Keep reading if you are ready to make the leap from frantic fact gathering to real, grown-up, research-based practice:
Step 1: The first thing you need to do is narrow your search. Go take a look at ASHA’s practice portal (I promise, it’s worth it!). What is one topic from that list of 50+ that sends you running for your chocolate stash? Is it fluency? AAC? Phonology?
Step 2: This next part may sound crazy, but it will change your practice forever. Give yourself permission to focus on that one topic for a whole year. Put the rest of the 50+ on the back burner for now. They will 100% still be there when you come back, but for now devote your energy to just one when you have time to set aside for learning.
Step 3: Free CEUs are a good place to start, but don’t stop there. Dust off your old textbook. Check out The Informed SLP to check out summaries of research articles on the topic. Even consider *gasp* paying for a high-quality course. Give yourself time to consider a variety of sources and think deeply.
Step 4: Notice what questions you have and then get them answered. To give you an idea of what this looks like, here is a list of questions that popped into my head when I started delving deeper into the different phonology treatments: - How many words should I be treating? - Wait, am I supposed to be treating stimulable or non-stimulable words? - Why doesn’t the protocol say anything about the client escaping my speech room and running the halls singing “Let it Gooooo,” during a superintendent walk-through? (*true story*).
Step 5: At last! Adding a fluency, AAC, or phono kid to your caseload no longer leaves you shaking in your boots. Take a moment to be proud of your newfound expertise and then head back to the list to find a new topic.
Bonus step: Give yourself some grace. No one knows it all, but everyone can know more. You got this!