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... ;)