Question: What can I do to get ready to specialize in pediatrics?
A broad foundation in pediatric feeding and swallowing (normal development, atypical presentation, sensory-motor underpinnings, assessment components critical for a differential, the range of interventions from neonates to school age and their evidence-base, and problem-solving strategies) is essential for pediatric practice in outpatient or acute care. I find it most helpful for clinicians new to the specialty of pediatrics to gain knowledge, skill and experience in an outpatient setting, which provides exposure to variations of normal as well as pathology, typically with a wide range of etiologies. It allows one also to gain experience in supporting families in crisis, but on a less intense scale than acute care. Acute care by its nature requires a higher level of expertise and ability to complete a differential, and presents patients that are more high-risk; the foundation gained through outpatient practice is invaluable. Knowledge gained from seminars, observations, mentors and the literature can together set the stage for effective pediatric practice. What I know for sure is that learning goes on, no matter how long you have practiced in pediatrics. After almost 35 years in Speech-Language Pathology (I got my Masters in 1977 :-), not a day goes by without my learning something, from another SLP, an RN or MD or an article I read, and that is both the joy and the responsibility of our profession.