Career Development March 31, 2021

By Sam MacKay

Clinical Fellow Spotlight: Madison Hilley

While approaching graduation as an SLP and beginning to explore options for your Clinical Fellowship year, gaining different perspectives on the CF experience can help you find the right program fit for your career goals. So, why not hear about it from a current traveler who is working toward her CF right now? We had the opportunity to speak with Madison Hilley, a Med Travelers CF stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, who shared a little bit about her experience so far.  

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you graduate from and where are you from originally? 

My name is Maddy, and I love the field I chose because it's so diverse in terms of areas of specialty, so there's always something new and interesting to learn! I also love nature, yoga, mindfulness practices, and art, and I do my best to incorporate those things into my therapy with students. I graduated from the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Alabama and I'm originally from Albertville, AL which is about two hours north of my university. Before moving to Jacksonville, Florida, Montevallo was the farthest from home that I've ever lived!

How did you hear about the Med Travelers CF Program?

I met my recruiter, Rob Nivala, at my university's job fair. At the time, I wasn't planning on traveling for my CF, but Rob and I really clicked. Med Travelers and all of the amazing benefits of the CF program that he told me about stood out above the other employers and I eventually looked more deeply into the program and decided it was a great fit for me.

What enticed you about working as a travel CF with Med Travelers?

One of the most appealing aspects to me was the level of support Med Travelers provides for CFs. Having a dedicated CF mentor in the same school district has been so helpful. The Med Travelers Clinical Team has also been a great resource.

Another compelling benefit offered by Med Travelers is their medical certificate reimbursement program. Working in a medical setting has been my goal since I was a sophomore in high school so it's exciting to work for a company that provides so much support in transitioning between settings. I’ve also always wanted to travel, so it’s certainly a plus that Med Travelers has a wide variety of locations to choose from.

If I had to sum up my decision to work for Med Travelers with one word, it would be “support.” I have felt supported in every step of the CF process and that’s something that not many CFs can say, unfortunately.

Why did you choose to do your CF year in a school? 

Completing my CF in a school just seemed like an ideal situation, given that the school calendar matches up with the timeframe that the clinical fellowship requires. I also knew from my clinical placements in graduate school that it would be a setting I would enjoy working in. Getting to know my students and working to help them increase their speech and language skills has been extremely rewarding.

Being part of an interdisciplinary team has also been a great opportunity. I have learned so much from other therapists, teachers, counselors, and administrators. There is an abundance of support within a school, and I would recommend completing your CF in this environment, even if your goal is to work in a medical setting. 

What is your current work situation like? How have you dealt with the challenges this year has presented? 

I am primarily in-person at both my elementary school and junior high school. I have a few virtual students, but luckily, my district's ESE Program Specialist wanted to avoid giving CFs virtual students as much as possible. Although working in-person during a pandemic comes with its own set of hardships, I am thankful to be having a more traditional clinical fellowship experience. This year has undoubtedly been challenging for everyone, especially those who work in schools. We are all trying our best to meet each student’s needs, following the aftermath of the schools shutting down last spring.

All things considered, this has been a strange and difficult year to enter into the workforce. So, I deal with the challenges by keeping everything in perspective and allowing myself and everyone around me tons of grace and compassion. I acknowledge when things are hard and remind myself that, not only am I a CF but a CF during a pandemic. I look for the positive in every situation and spread positivity every chance I get. Each morning, I write something I’m grateful for on the whiteboard in my therapy room that I share with two other SLPs and invite them to do the same. I ask lots of questions to anyone who has a moment to spare so that I can learn as much as possible and make the most of this experience. 

What exciting things have you done or experienced at your current assignment or location?

It has been a lot of fun living in Jacksonville and being near the beach. I haven't explored as much as I'd like to because of COVID, but I'm hoping that will change very soon. I recently went to St. Augustine with my partner and his family, and we went to the Fountain of Youth and climbed to the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse, which was an amazing experience.

At work, I'm genuinely enjoying the positive environment that the administrators and teachers work so hard to create. One of my favorite things about working in a school is creating engaging and enriching lessons for students of all ages and skill levels.

Is there anything else you think prospective CFs should know in general or specifically about working with Med Travelers?

I would advise prospective CFs to prioritize self-care and use this new and exciting opportunity to learn about themselves and the career they are just entering into. As a CF, you still have so much to learn and that can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. That’s why keeping things in perspective is so important, as I described previously.

In therapy and IEP meetings, reframe any mistakes or perceived failures by noting what worked or went well and how they can make improvements in following sessions or meetings. I learned very quickly that it’s not worth the mental or emotional energy to be hard on myself. As for working with Med Travelers, know that you are supported and have access to so many people and resources that can help you make the best of your experience.

We want to extend a hearty “thank you” to Maddie, for taking the time to share her experience with us—and we hope this spotlight provided a thorough, behind-the-scenes look at life as a CF.

Are you interested in pursuing your CF with Med Travelers? Visit our website to learn more about the Med Travelers’ SLP Clinical Fellowship Program!

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