SLP CFY advice: Therapy company or not?
February 15, 2007 10:51 AM   Subscribe

I am a master's student in speech-language pathology looking for a clinical fellow position starting this summer. I'm doing all the regular sending out resumes to hospitals and whatnot, but I'd like to know if anybody here has any experience with the big US based therapy agencies...

I'm thinking in particular of places like EBS Healthcare, Progressus Therapy, etc. Are there any PTs, OTs, or SLPs who have worked for similar companies during their CFY? Are there ones to avoid, ones that are okay? Do you have any pros/cons to share? How was the supervision and the compensation? Any and all comments and links to additional sources would be much appreciated!
posted by absquatulate to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'll try letting christinetheslp know about this thread.
posted by drezdn at 11:06 AM on February 15, 2007

I did my CFY with Staffing Options & Solutions (SOS), which is a nationwide staffing agency. It was pretty good. Other people at my workplace who work with other agencies, including EBS and Bilingual Therapies, have had no complaints about their CFYs either. Just try to get someone who is on-site with you...I've heard some horror stories with off-site CFY supervisors. That can happen anywhere though, not just with agencies.

Good luck!
posted by christinetheslp at 2:38 PM on February 15, 2007

Good to know, thanks Christinetheslp! :)
posted by absquatulate at 3:45 PM on February 15, 2007

Oh boy, do I have a lot to say about this. SLP here (my CFY was just last year). I have not worked for one of these agencies -- my supervisors in grad school strongly recommended against it.

I personally think their business models are shady. These agencies are middlemen that take away a percentage of your salary (without you knowing it) as well as some of your freedom regarding where you end up working. Some of my colleagues have told me that the agency sets up conference-call interviews between you and the employer, and they make sure the employer does not know your name and you do not know any specifics about the employer other than what kind of setting it is. The agency doesn't want to be cut out of the deal, because they get a large sum of money in the transaction. (I've heard it's thousands of dollars, up to $30,000!, but I really have no idea.) The employers are typically desperate school districts and not-high-quality nursing homes* that have trouble hiring SLPs for a reason. (Poor facilities, poor support, etc., or maybe good places with a lack of SLPs in the region.)

The agency provides a qualified CFY supervisor that the employer cannot, and it is highly unlikely that the supervisor will be on-site with you full-time or even much time beyond the required supervision hours. These supervisors I'm sure in many cases are spectacular SLPs, and might give you terrific support to the extent that they can, but it's not the same as being in a setting where you have an on-site SLP (or even better, a team of SLPs and other therapists) around to bounce ideas and problems off of every day, as they come up.

Christinetheslp, what was the place like were you worked? What was your supervision situation? I will be happy to eat my words on this since all my info is second-hand.

But look at it this way: you are in high demand just about anywhere you go in the U.S. You will NOT have trouble finding a job on your own. You can be picky about where you work from day one -- that's one of the best parts about this job. I'm not saying this is you, but I went to school with a lot of young people who had never been on the job market and maybe were a little scared of the whole process. I sat in on one of these agency's pitches, and they had a very comforting and convincing presentation about how they take care of all that scary stuff for you. I even bought it for a while, but wisely decided I would go it alone and only go with them if I had a hard time finding a job.

*As an added note, there are many reasons to work for places that need you the most (low-performing public schools, medicare-patient-laden nursing homes) but ABSOLUTELY NOT as a CFY, especially without on-site supervision. When you do decide to go that route, you will find you deserve every last cent of what the employer is paying -- there is no reason for any agency to be getting a cut!

I could go on and on -- my email is in my profile if you want me to!
posted by kmel at 5:37 PM on February 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

These agencies are middlemen that take away a percentage of your salary (without you knowing it)

That's pretty much how any staffing agency works though.
posted by drezdn at 7:47 PM on February 15, 2007

That's pretty much how any staffing agency works though.

Very true. I'm just saying that they're more than unnecessary for SLPs seeking a job.
posted by kmel at 4:55 AM on February 16, 2007

My wife is an SLP and coincidentally named Christine, so seeing christinetheslp certainly made me do a double take.

Onto business, would one of your internship supervisors be willing to take you on for a CFY?
posted by dr_dank at 7:42 AM on February 16, 2007

kmel, my agency wasn't like this at all. No conference calls, no shadiness. I do know they make money off of me, but I also know that I get paid as much as or more than my district colleagues. Like so many things, you just have to be choosy and look carefully. A bad school district or a bad nursing home can screw you over just as readily as a bad staffing agency.

I actually am glad I joined a staffing agency right out of school because they made it extremely easy to relocate, and they really helped me get my licensure stuff in order...I was better organized than many of my classmates in that regard.

So yeah, don't paint all agencies with the same brush. My experience has been a very positive one.
posted by christinetheslp at 1:48 PM on February 16, 2007

Good to know -- thanks! This is the first positive experience I've heard.
posted by kmel at 3:53 PM on February 16, 2007

Dr_Dank: Unfortunately probably not; one is a private practicioner and her insurance won't ler bill for CF work, one is on the verge of retirement and the school system she works for pays low (I have sky high student loans, so salary is a bit of a concern right now). The other is in a hospital 60+ miles away (there is a shortage of placements for slp students in my immediate area in a hospital setting) so unless I'm willing to move to a highly undesirable cityn or commute 120 miles a day, that's pretty much out too. I'd like very much to stay in the Western MA area, but Massachusetts is a tougher market than other areas of the country because of the high number of SLP programs in the state (I think there's at least five!)

I'm banking on sending my resume to hospitals in the immediate area and possibly other areas around New England (as I think a hospital setting is where I want to be at first, then move to a school should circumstances warrant [kids, travel]) and see what happens. Staffing agencies were in high gear at ASHA (of course) and so I just thought I would investigate them while I have the chance.
posted by absquatulate at 8:38 AM on February 17, 2007

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