Speaker You’re listening to Allied Health Podcast, talking all things Allied Health with your hosts, Danielle Weedon, physiotherapist, and Clare Jones, occupational therapist.
Clare Jones In episode 20 of Allied Health Podcast, Danielle chats with Nathan Cornish-Raley, speech pathologist and professional support adviser at Speech Pathology Australia. Nathan outlines his background as a speechie and working at SPA, as well as discussing all the benefits the student, graduate, early and late career therapists in joining Speech Pathology Australia.
Danielle Weedon Thank you for joining us today, Nathan.
Nathan Cornish-Raley My pleasure.
Danielle Weedon So you’re a speech pathologist and a professional support advisor at Speech Pathology Australia. Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Nathan Cornish-Raley Yeah. So like you said, I’m a professional supervisor in Speech Pathology Australia, where I support a couple of different areas. But primarily I help speech pathologists connect to supports like supervision and mentoring, with a specific focus on early career members. So I’ve been a speech pathologist for over 16 years and have practised in the United States and Australia. And on top of my role in SPA, I currently see clients at a private practice and [?]
Danielle Weedon This would be good advice because the first series of the podcast is dedicated to students and early career therapists, so you’ll be able to showcase hopefully a bit more about what SPA can offer. So can you tell us what is Speech Pathology Australia?
Nathan Cornish-Raley Yeah. Speech Pathology Australia, S.P.A , sometimes more familiarly as SPA, is the national peak body for the speech pathology profession in Australia. So we are a member organisation and there’s distinct benefits for speech pathologists who join SPA. But our role means we also provide benefits to non-members, and that includes speech pathologists and members of the public who access speech pathology services. So we do this by developing things like professional standards for speech pathology practice, the profession’s code of ethics. We manage the accreditation of university programmes and advocate for people with communication and swallowing disorders.
Danielle Weedon And I suppose with lots of changes with NDIS and aged care, you provide sort of advocacy services to your members around those changes as well, would you?
Nathan Cornish-Raley Absolutely, yes. So to our members and then directly with the NDAA and the Departments of Health, etc.
Danielle Weedon And so what, can you outline some of the benefits of joining as a student member?
Nathan Cornish-Raley Yeah, there’s a lot of great reasons to join SPA as a student member. So students get access to various member benefits like our journals and communications. We have various online communities where you can connect to experienced speech pathologists and other students and early career professionals. So this is a great source of professional support as you’re preparing to enter the workforce. You can also access SPA’s practice documents and seek support from the association’s advisors. One great area of support are our state and territory branches, and many of these have very active student communities. So you can get involved early and network with your future colleagues and even have opportunities to participate and develop leadership skills. We also have on our website a resource that’s called Ready For Work, and this is a collection of brief videos and podcasts on different topics related to getting started as a speech pathologist. So these are videos on things like, you know, applying for jobs or negotiating a contract, pay and award, supervision… And this is actually available to the public and can be found from the early career support section of our website. So you don’t have to be a student member to access this resource. But tools like this are possible because of SPA members. Um, a few weeks ago, we hosted a mini mentoring event where students got to rotate through various mentors or experienced speech pathologists to answer the questions about getting started in the profession. And the student participants found this really helpful. We got some great feedback on it, and we’re planning a few more of these events in 2022. And finally, I think that’s a pretty big financial benefit for joining as a student. And really, the longer you’re a student member, the more money you’re going to save. So SPA offers free membership to students who are in the first year of their speech pathology course. And then when the time comes that you graduate and apply to be a certified practising member of SPA, or what’s called CPSP status. If you’re a student member during the last membership period, then you receive a 50 percent discount on your first year of membership. Now, if you are a student member during the last two membership periods, before you apply, then you receive a 75 percent discount on your first year membership. So that’s literally hundreds of dollars of savings on top of the benefits that you receive while you’re [?].
Danielle Weedon That’s right, and it’s towards your professional development and it’s a tax deduction, too. So that’s good. I didn’t, I didn’t know of those financial incentives, but the concept that you said about students joining as well and being, you know, networking with other speech pathology students is really important because I think you can go through university with your own cohort and then you’re all sort of spat out and you go it your own way, but you’re sort of used to having that. So I think that’s a great benefit is being, you know, being a student and being a member.
Nathan Cornish-Raley Yeah.
Danielle Weedon And what about benefits for graduate members?
Nathan Cornish-Raley So also a lot of benefits. You know, earlier I mentioned the publications, but this includes access to SPA journals, the International Journal of Speech and Pathology and the Journal of Clinical Practice and Speech-Language Pathology in the last few weeks. And we’re really excited about this, but we’ve introduced access to the, if I can remember the entire name, the cumulative index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, which is a database of journal articles from more than 40 journals relevant to Allied Health and speech pathology. And so this includes access to the full suite of journals produced by the American Speech Language Hearing Association and a variety of others. We also have a bi monthly magazine called Speak Out and regular enews updates. Like student members, CPSP members are able to access SPA’s practice documents, which include position statements on various practice issues and clinical guidelines on a number of areas of practice. We have some important resources on Evidence-Based Practice and optimising your professional development. We have various advisers on staff for areas like disability, aged care, education and you can contact them for guidance. As I mentioned, my area is professional support, and I manage our mentoring programme and online supervision register where you can search for support in a variety of practice areas. Another of the initiatives that we have and one that I support, is called the Early Career Reference Group. So this is a committee of early career professionals who advise us on issues that are relevant to being in this stage of your career. So they spend significant time developing resources to support colleagues. For example, we currently have a group that’s focussing on rural and remote practice, and they’ve been developing some brief informational videos with groups who are providing support in this space. Another group, or another subgroup within this early career reference group is interested in transdisciplinary practice, so they’ve worked with Occupational Therapy Australia to create an infographic on how OTs and speechies can collaborate in service delivery, and mutual red flags to look for, and to know when to refer clients or other professionals. So it’s, it’s a busy group. A couple of other benefits: of course, your skills are needed here in Australia and you can have a wonderful career here. But if your sights are ever set overseas, SPA has what’s called a mutual recognition agreement with peak body associations in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and the US, which really facilitates your being able to work in those countries. I think another benefit that’s important to mention are the partnerships that we have. So we partner with a group called Workplace Plus, which offers support for workplace HR issues, pay and awards and contracts, and SPA members receive a free initial consultation with them. We also partner with Guild Insurance, which provides us and our members advice on risk and insurance. And finally, SPA members are automatically part of what’s called Member Advantage, which gives discounts on a range of different lifestyle and financial services.
Danielle Weedon Excellent and in terms of their CPD and courses and training. You’ve already touched on that a little bit, but have you got any other info that you like to impart on those?
Nathan Cornish-Raley Yeah, absolutely. SPA has a wide range of professional development activities that are available to the public on what’s called the Learning Hub, which is on our website. But members get a large discount on these activities, and actually many of these activities are free to members. We also host an annual conference in May and members get a significant discount to this as well.
Danielle Weedon I think speaking to early career therapy graduates and early career therapists all the time, I think the main thing in your early, you know, the first five years, or always really, but your early career is to make sure you’ve got those right supports and supervision and sort of professional development opportunities. So it’s good for speech therapists to know, speech pathologists to know, if they’re not necessarily getting it with their employer, that they’ve got SPA as a body that they can reach out to and utilise as well.
Nathan Cornish-Raley Yeah, absolutely. And you know, I didn’t mention supervision and mentoring specifically with with CPD, but that is an important part of that. We do have an online supervision register where, yeah, if your employer is not providing supervision, you can find somebody to offer that externally.
Danielle Weedon Yeah, great. And you touched on already the insurance affiliations, didn’t you?
Nathan Cornish-Raley I did. So we do partner with Guild Insurance. I think it’s also important to note, like in a slightly different note, is that in order to obtain a Medicare provider number, speech pathologists do need to be current members of SPA. So this isn’t just for you to see Medicare clients, but most private health funds require providers to have a Medicare provider number.
Danielle Weedon Yeah, right. And any information on, I mean, you’ve sort of talked about networks and specialist groups, but any extra information on networking?
Nathan Cornish-Raley Yeah, I think a lot of our members network on our online communities, and so this is a great place to connect with others just to share some general information, sometimes to commiserate on the things that go on in speech pathology life. The branches that I discussed earlier, are also a great place to get to know of speech pathologists in your area and throughout the pandemic, they’ve been very active online. And I know that very many are meeting in person where they can or are looking forward to meeting in person very soon. So, you know, there’s obviously business conducted at the branch meetings, but there’s also a big social aspect to them, which is really helpful.
Danielle Weedon Yeah, I think it’s probably been highlighted the last 18 months absolutely as well, how important networking is within your profession. If you if you’re working remotely or if you’re working out in the community in an autonomous role or if you’re in a private practice, small private practice, people really, people really need to network and health professionals aren’t traditionally that good at networking, I would say. So I do think it’s important. It’s really important in your profession. So what about how can SPA help members with their career growth?
Nathan Cornish-Raley Yeah. The Ready For Work resource that I mentioned earlier, I think is super helpful as you’re getting started in the profession. Also, the many mentoring activity which we are hoping to replicate and do more of in the future. The mentoring programme, which I also referenced earlier, can pair you with a speech pathologist who has experience in a different clinical area, and help you to get ready for the next stage of your career. But mentors honestly do more than just focus on clinical practice areas. We have mentors who can support you as you are looking to master technology, or wanting to start or grow your business, or getting ready to offer supervision and even just to be a more effective leader. So there’s a variety of supports that are available for a mentoring programme.
Danielle Weedon Yeah, great. I don’t have any other questions for you unless you’ve got anything else you’d like to add.
Nathan Cornish-Raley Just that we invite student members to join and that you’ve joined a really exciting profession and one with just a great cohort of colleagues who are willing to offer support and guidance. And I hope that you enjoy your speech pathology journey as much as I am.
Danielle Weedon Great. Thank you again for your time today. It’s definitely great for our speech pathology network to get a much better understanding of the benefits of joining you guys at SPA, I really appreciate your time.
Nathan Cornish-Raley Yeah. Well, thank you for inviting me, and I also invite any of your listeners to contact us at SPA with any questions you have.
Danielle Weedon Excellent. Thanks again, Nathan.
Nathan Cornish-Raley Thank you.
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