Where Are They Now: Sultana Abdur-Raheem
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Where Are They Now: Sultana Abdur-Raheem

In only seven months since graduating from Salus University’s Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program, Sultana Abdur-Raheem, MS ‘23, has begun to form a budding career as a speech-language pathologist. 

Sultana Abdur-Raheem at her capstone posterPost-graduation led her to fill out applications for positions in the profession and landed her at The Stepping Stones Group, an agency that provides a variety of therapeutic services to school districts. Now, Abdur-Raheem helps provide speech-language therapy and autistic support to a caseload of 68 students at two different elementary schools. “The population is very diverse, I work with nonverbal, kids, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) users, kids that have developmental delays, expressive/receptive language deficits, fluency issues, you name it, but I enjoy it all because I love challenges, learning new therapy interventions, meeting new kiddos and being creative with therapy ideas. Oh, and playing games!” 

The job is part of Abdur-Raheem’s clinical fellowship year, a mentored professional experience that will earn her a certificate of clinical competence in SLP and prepare her for independent practice. While an external supervisor is only a phone call away, she has space to work on her own in the position in a way that is very hands-on. 

Abdur-Raheem reflected fondly on her time at the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania-based campus, and how it prepared her to be where she is now. “I love that we had access to being in the clinic (Speech-Language Institute). We had access to working with clients. We had that hands-on experience of what it feels like to be working in the real world,” she said. “Some days we had class and some days we had to get up first thing in the morning at eight o'clock to see a client. We had to make schedules, we had to write up reports, and we had to figure out treatment plans.”

Sultana Abdur-Raheem outside on campusIf she has any advice for incoming SLP students it would be to communicate when trying to find the balance between your life and your career. “I feel like when you're in a program initially, you may feel like it's a lot, that you can't juggle the clinical life and the student life, but you can,” she said. 

Being such a recent graduate, this is only the beginning for Abdur-Raheem’s clinical career and she has already learned so much. She commented that self-doubt is a real issue for new healthcare professionals, but that it’s important to keep working hard and pushing through. “When you get in the field, at times you're going to feel like you don't know if you're doing enough. You don't know if some of your therapy methods are working, but I'm going to tell you that it is,” she said. Abdur-Raheem talked about a moment when she felt she was having some challenges with some of her autistic clients. “I didn't know if a few kids that I had been working with were progressing or not. I didn't feel like I was doing enough, but one day the special education teacher contacted me and showed me a video of the child that I had been working with saying his first word (e.g., bubbles), using a gesture (e.g., he pointed to the fish), and imitating the action (e.g., used his mouth to blow).”

She knew then she was making a difference and helping those in need. “I just love this profession,” she said. “I love communicating with parents in ways to help their kids to express themselves. It is gratifying to witness improvements in someone’s communication abilities.”