Karen Copeland Interview

Karen Copeland ANCDS Interview

Tell us a little bit about your background as a speech-language pathologist. How long have you been in the profession and what kind of clinical settings have your worked in? I’ve been an SLP for over 30 years. Most of that time has been spent within a medical SLP setting across acute care, inpatient rehab, outpatient and home health. I’ve also had the wonderful privilege of being part of the adjunct faculty at two local universities. Most recently, I’ve worked to organize Cowboy Aphasia Camp in the summers at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, where we pair graduate clinicians with people who have aphasia for a week of mutual learning. During the week of camp, I have to pinch myself just so I know it is real, because we are having so much fun that it doesn’t seem like work at all!

Why did you decide to apply for board certification? It became a personal goal of mine after attending a course several years ago presented by Dr. Edythe Strand. She spoke highly of ANCDS as an organization, and discussed the certification process as a way for a practicing clinician to expand their horizons. I was hooked, but it took me some time to get my act together to apply, and then write my case studies.

What was the experience like? Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I was scared when I filled the application for certification and dropped it in the mail. I was scared when I mailed each of my case studies, and I was scared when I walked to my oral defense in November. On the other side of the process, I can say that I learned quite a bit about myself as a clinician, and emphasized the fact that the knowledge base in our field is so dynamic. I am deeply grateful to the people who reviewed my case studies and shared their expertise through that feedback process.

You've only been board certified for a short amount of time but have you experienced any benefits of being board certified, either personal or professional? Definitely some personal pride in the accomplishment. I’m pretty quiet, so I’m not sure many of my co-workers know about my certification at this point. I did give myself permission to buy the serotonin molecule necklace I had been coveting as a reward for completing my certification. LOL!

Any recommendations for other SLPs considering going through the process? Be confident in your ability to succeed. I did find it helpful to allow myself the freedom to take some time off from “real work” to focus on the writing of the case studies when I reached that stage of the process. I was also blessed to have several local colleagues who were willing to read the drafts of my case studies and offer suggestions before I submitted them, so I encourage people to take advantage of their professional networks in this way. Finally, there’s a great ANCDS podcast that discusses the certification process. I found that resource very helpful even after my cases were submitted, so listening before writing is highly recommended.

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