We all know that ethical treatment of our clients results from using evidence-based practice (EBP). So how do we make that happen?
First, recall that evidence-based practice isn’t just about using the research, but considers client values and clinical expertise as well (which results from accumulated experience collecting client data and objectively analyzing it). How much weight you put on each EBP component varies case-by-case, but we’ll focus on research evidence for the moment.
In grad school, you simply follow your professors’ recommendations. And that’ll last you for a bit. But what about when you’re 3, 5, 10 years out of grad school?
Some SLPs think that by participating in Continuing Education (CE) courses to maintain our ASHA CCCs and state licenses, that’s enough. Sometimes it's enough. And it certainly helps. But not all CE courses are based on research evidence. <Yikes!> There are many CE courses out there that have little to no research backing. So if you’re choosing mediocre CE, year after year, there’s a good chance you’re not implementing EBP.
So, what then? Try this:
Now, (1) and (2) above are the bare minimum you should be doing in order to ethically practice as a Speech–Language Pathologist. If you’re not doing these two things (or an equivalent substitute), you're probably not using EBP.
So, start there. THEN, I would suggest that all good SLPs are additionally doing some of the following. Perhaps more in some years, less in others, but they're regularly trying to:
So, to reiterate:
It’s not enough to just show up for your clients. You must also be aware of good science in our field and beware pseudoscience. The best evidence will make your job easier— so you may treat clients more efficiently, and with better outcomes.
And, on a final note, evidence-based practice is only part of the solution. Yes, clinicians must access and use research evidence. But our scientists also must provide us with practice-based evidence. SLPs need relevant studies that are real-world applicable. And communication between clinicians and scholars about each other's work is essential to the health of our field. ASHA is working on EBP and Implementation Science initiatives for us, and communication between clinicians and scientists seems to get better and better all the time. Let's contribute to that!