On November 15, 2013, the Washington State Board of Hearing and Speech voted unanimously in support of a proposal to allow telehealth supervision of Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) during their Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY). Angie Quesnell, SLP and Regional SLP Mentor for Infinity Rehab, submitted and championed the proposal through the process.
Telehealth is the use of videoconferencing and telecommunications to support long-distance clinical care for patients or, in this case, other therapists. Once a SLP graduates from school, they spend about a year as a Clinical Fellow (CF) working to develop their skills under supervision of an experienced clinician. Angie currently supervises 4-5 CFs in a rural area of Washington and travels extensively to be onsite to meet with her supervisees. Angie saw an opportunity to improve the current methods being used and displayed the initiative necessary to make the change.
We sat down with Angie to learn more about her experience:
When did you first recognize the benefits telehealth could bring to SLPs?
“I first recognized the benefits telesupervision may hold after I began my current position as a Regional SLP Mentor with Infinity. Having multiple CFs and mentoring another SLP a few hours away, it is important for me to find time to provide each of them with adequate support so they feel satisfied with their fellowships while also having a lasting impact on their clinical performance, training, and future career decisions. Telesupervision is just another way to provide the support needed for SLPs.”
When did you start actively campaigning to make the change?
“I began working on this initiative in August and the change was effective mid-November.”
What were the steps in the process? What evidence did you use to support your recommendation?
“It started with researching telehealth and telesupervision: who else was using it and what were the rules surrounding it? I contacted the Washington Board of Hearing and Speech to get more information and then started working with Tim Esau (Infinity Rehab’s Director of Compliance) to submit a proposal to request the use of telesupervision to the board. Most of the evidence used to support my proposal came from The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) who already had a clear statement in support of using telesupervision for supervising SLPs. Tim and I then attended the board meeting on November 15th to support our proposal, as well as to answer any further questions and participate in discussion.”
What are some of the benefits of telehealth and telesupervision?
“Some benefits of telehealth include the quality and amount of the supervision – providing accessibility, flexibility, and immediate feedback. It helps broaden clinical and work opportunities in remote and rural settings, while also reducing transportation expenses, gaining access, and utilizing time of supervisors more effectively.”
Have you already started using telesupervision with your CFs?
“We are in the process of setting up our telesupervision and look forward to the new opportunities it will provide within our daily and weekly experiences.”
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience?
“This has been a very positive experience and outcome! It is very rewarding to be part of a process that will make stronger clinicians and allow us to provide the best therapy for our patients. We need to continue to be advocates for our patients and our disciplines so we can continue our journey of turning challenges into opportunities!”
Angie’s efforts have helped to improve our current care models as Infinity Rehab strives towards our mission to enhance the life of every person we serve. Congratulations to Angie Quesnell for her success and thank you to everyone involved in improving the care we provide our patients and therapists.