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Notes from a Speech Pathologist: Age, Confidence, and Doing What's Right

When I first set out to share other YoPro's stories in a different format than the original Q&A set-up, I looked to my friends and peers across a number of industries. In the healthcare field, Ella was one of the original friends I reached out to and I am so grateful for her honesty and vulnerability as she shares one of her first careers with this audience.


I am a 27-year old living in the body of what looks like a high school graduate, or at least that’s what I have been told. Hopefully, by the time I’m 30, I will be seen as a young professional and fewer people will question my ability to do the job I love.

I have my Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology. I would like to preface this article with this: I love my job. The hardest part of my job has nothing to do with the job itself, but the challenge of convincing the new patients I see or the new colleagues I work with, that yes, I know what I am doing despite my young appearance.

I used to work in a sub-acute with patients who had trachs (those are the tubes that help you breathe if you can’t do it on your own). Working with the population I had involved a lot of decision making. My job at this facility was to provide my patients with the least restrictive diet so I tried to get them to eat normally, or as normal as possible. Unfortunately, some of the services I wanted for my patients required decisions out of my control, so I had to turn to the decision-makers at our facility, the Director of Nursing (DON).

The DON was an older male that regrettably often disapproved my requests because he didn’t believe I knew what I was doing. At one point he claimed that everyone with trachs could never eat orally. However, that was literally the point of my job. It baffled me that my supervisor didn’t understand what I had been doing there every day. He often used a condescending tone when talking with me and never took me seriously. The worst part was that he was delaying the best care we could provide to the patients in need as a facility. I used to sit in on family care planning meetings and the DON would often cut me off or smirk at comments I made. He called me names like “teenybopper,” “high school graduate,” or “kid” in front of patients. Professionally, I knew I had to remain composed, but for me and my patients, I knew I had to speak up. So I did. Long story short, the patients obtained the services they needed, family care planning meetings were far more enjoyable, and I felt more like I was part of a team that wanted to work for the patients.

I feel that something most young professionals can relate to is that starting out in your career can be very intimidating. You have to convince not only others that you know what you’re doing, but you also have to convince yourself. It can be very hard to find confidence when there are others looking to assert their years of experience onto you. Having a healthy work environment can foster that confidence and the skills you need to do what you love. It won’t always be perfect but those imperfect moments are usually the best for learning. Challenges can show you what you’re capable of and teach you more about yourself.

My take away: You are only in control of yourself and how you react. People can tell you you’re young or not ready, but only you can either prove or disprove them. So I challenge you to disprove them. It can be scary, but if you landed the job, you are definitely ready. You were chosen. Don’t let others tell you otherwise.

– Ella

The YoPro Know's Takeaways:

– You are only in control of yourself and how you react

– Stand up for your ideas and position

– Don’t let age hurt you

Connect with the author here: Ella Besas

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