This is the story of when a journal article broke the SLP internet.
And it was kind of a good thing, and kind of a bad thing, and mostly just really confusing to everyone observing it.
So allow me to play out this series of events—trust me, it’s relevant to why someone would ask the question above!
There are lots of ways to stay up-to-date with research in our field (e.g. the Evidence You Can Use reviews, of course). However, you may also be looking for a comprehensive overview of a certain topic.
Answers to the questions: What are evidence-based assessment and treatment techniques for ________? What factors should be considered for ________? These are really the most basic questions we have on topics we're not super familiar with, right?
To be able to get a nice overview of EBP on a certain topic, with journal articles cited and the ability to look up more as needed sounds like a dream, right?
Well, this exists. You may not like where it exists but here goes...
This is the third of three consecutive blog posts on the research-to-practice gap,
and factors that are typically missed.
What’s the difference between respect and love?
Wait—back up. Before you go on a tangent of considering every relationship you have, and how they all differ in terms of respect and love, let’s look at just one relationship: your relationship with our field’s science. Our evidence. Do you respect it, or do you love it?
I think, for most people, the answer is actually “respect”, not “love”. And I see this as a problem. Here’s why:
Respecting our science, to me, means putting it on a pedestal. Knowing it’s highly valuable. Important. Something to be revered. Something to be referenced, whenever possible (Smith, 2017, #pretendcitation).
When a graduate student leaves his or her master’s program with a respect for our field’s science, that’s good. A good thing! But it’s also wholly inadequate. Because it can mean that they leave that science, sitting there on it’s pedestal, and wave a respectful little ‘goodbye,’ before proceeding on with clinical work. (Want a real citation for this blog post? Try this article on how quickly students lose touch with the evidence after grad school.)
So, to me, respect doesn’t cut it, because you can respect something but be completely uninvolved with it. Here's an example: I respect cardiovascular exercise. I am 100% confident it’s good for you, and smart people do it. But me? I don’t do it. I hate that crap, and have zero love for cardiovascular exercise. Cardiovascular exercise and I are entirely uninvolved with one another, but #respect.
So then, love. What does loving our science look like? Loving something means taking it down off the pedestal. Loving something means holding it, carrying it, using it, valuing it, turning it over, critiquing it, talking about it. Loving something means knowing the good and bad parts of it, but ultimately caring deeply about it nonetheless. When you love something, you think about it in your free time. When you love something, it’s part of you.
A graduate student who loves our science isn’t one who leaves school with the evidence sitting there on its pedestal. A student who loves our science packs it up with them, puts it in their messenger bag (except backpacks seem to be way more popular these days, so fine—backpack; or maybe fanny pack if they can fold it up small enough and pull off that hipster vibe). But, the point is: when you love something, you take it with you! You use it.
Respecting our science isn’t enough. We have to love it and carry it with us.
So how to we problem-solve this? Well, I think a hefty part of our clinicians’ relationship with science begins in grad school, and is supported (or not) by what happens in the first several years post-grad. So for those of us who interact with our field’s newest colleagues, we need to take a serious look at the role we play—are we doing this? Are we teaching our grad students, CFs, and first-five-years SLPs how to love our science? Or are we torturing them with it? (!) Are we making it harder and scarier than it needs to be, and perhaps forgetting that the relationship they have with our science may end up mattering far more than anything else? After all, that's what influences whether or not they even end up using it at all.
So what do you all think? How do we make sure our students leave grad school knowing and loving our science, making room for it in their little knapsacks? (Along with the 20,000 pens and highlighters every SLP seems to deem necessary... ;)
This is the second of three consecutive blog posts on the research-to-practice gap,
and factors that are typically missed.
aka: EBP flame wars and journal articles used as weapons of mass destruction
aka: How to convince people to frolic in the field of research with you by holding a flower to their nose instead of a gun to their head
aka: All great things are built upon a foundation of solid relationships
aka: Which matters more: facts or people’s feelings? … and I’m just going to answer that question for you and say “both”
People reading this post likely fall into one of two categories: 1) You know exactly why I’m writing this, and you already have your “preach hands” up, or 2) You have no idea what I’m talking about, or why I would even open this discussion. If you fit in the latter category, I hope I can coherently explain the issue. I’ll give it a whirl...
Let’s start with the backstory:
Once upon a time, the field of speech–language pathology realized that in order to act in our clients’ best interests, we need to be using evidence-based practice (of course this has been an interdisciplinary, international thing, but for now we’ll discuss it only as it applies within our field). Traditionally, SLPs have done well with the clinical expertise and clients’ needs portions of this. They’ve done less well with taking research evidence into consideration. Why would that be? Perhaps because the research is so far away from us. It’s hard to get, it’s hard to wade through, and it’s time-consuming to interpret. Simply put, there are high (and numerous) barriers between clinicians and the evidence, with two of the big ones being access and utility. And to-date, we haven’t been all that honest with each other about those barriers. Ultimately, this lack of communication, lack of frankness, and abysmal acknowledgment of clinical reality has impeded our ability to make the “research” corner of EBP realistic and achievable.