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Choosing the Right Employer: 6 Things to Consider in Your Clinical Fellowship Year

Written by Invo Companies

Posted July 03, 2024

Ready to take the next big step in your healthcare career? Your clinical fellowship year (CFY) is that exciting transition from student to professional. However, choosing the right employer for this crucial first year out of school can feel daunting. The decision you make now can significantly affect your professional growth, development of clinical expertise, and overall experience starting out.

Without the proper guidance, mentorship, workplace culture fit, and growth opportunities, you risk an unsatisfying year that leaves you ill-prepared for long-term career success. On the other hand, aligning with an employer that provides the right support system allows you to thrive during this formative period and establish a strong foundation and fulfilling career.

The Next Chapter: Choosing the Best CFY Employer

According to ASHA guidelines, your CFY must span at least 36 weeks and include 1,260 hours of clinical experience. You'll need to work a minimum of 5 hours per week for it to count towards your CFY.¹ Keep these requirements in mind as you evaluate potential employers and positions.

Moreover, during your fellowship, focus on honing clinical skills and seek the right employer. Here are some aspects to remember as you evaluate potential employers for your CFY.

1. Support and guidance during clinical training.

During your CFY, you'll work closely with seasoned professionals who'll guide you, support you, and give you valuable feedback.

This process is important as research shows over 90 percent of workers with a mentor report higher job satisfaction, increased opportunities for career advancement, and higher compensation. Without a mentor, over 40 percent of employees have considered quitting within the last 3 months.²

In busy places like schools or healthcare, getting immediate supervisor help isn't always easy. That's why regular supervision sessions in speech-language pathology are crucial. They're your chance to tackle tough cases, ask about treatments, and learn evidence-based practices. To make sure you're getting the support you need, ASHA has set specific supervision requirements.

Look for employers who offer 6 hours of direct on-site, in-person supervision and 6 hours of indirect supervision per CFY segment, totaling at least 36 hours throughout your fellowship.

Your progress throughout the CFY will be tracked using ASHA's Clinical Fellowship Skills Inventory (CFSI), which evaluates various clinical skills. To successfully complete your fellowship, aim for a minimum rating of 2 on all skills in the final segment.

When looking for CFY mentor, ensure they meet ASHA's qualifications:

  • A current CCC-SLP certification

  • At least 9 months of full-time experience (or its part-time equivalent) post-certification

  • Completed 2 hours of professional development in supervision

These requirements help ensure your mentor has the experience and training to guide you effectively through your CFY.

2. Opportunities for learning and growth.

Love learning? Great! As a clinical fellow in healthcare, you'll need that passion. The field is always changing, and so are your patients' needs. More importantly, there is a significant increase in the knowledge, skills, and performance of healthcare professionals due to online continuing education.3

So, it's important to find an employer who supports your professional development. You need ongoing training to stay updated in your field, and continuous learning helps you stay knowledgeable about the clinical area you work in.

When starting out, look for an employer that allows you time to explore their resources and complete any available training. This may include access to continuing education workshops, conferences, and in-house training programs.

For example, some companies provide paid professional development leave and offer opportunities to shadow CF mentors and members in different roles or clinical areas. This helps you learn more about your current field or decide whether to expand your expertise. Don't forget to ask about opportunities for professional development, like:

  • Will you have time for ongoing professional development?

  • Will you have access to workshops, seminars, or other training opportunities?

  • Is there support for attending conferences or further educational programs?

  • Are there chances to learn about other clinical areas and expand your skills over time?

3. Company environment and values.

Finding the right fit is crucial. Does the company's culture match your values? Are their priorities in line with yours? These are key questions to ask as you explore potential employers.

For instance, when considering potential positions as a Special Education (SPED) teacher, look for schools or educational institutions that prioritize collaboration among staff, inclusivity in their approach to education, and ethical practices in treating students.

Think about things like work-life balance, support programs for teachers, and opportunities for staff to share their ideas and feedback. A positive work environment, where you feel appreciated and supported, can greatly improve your job satisfaction and overall happiness.

When considering an employer's organizational culture, ask the following questions to understand if the environment aligns with your values and needs:

  • How do they promote collaboration among staff and encourage a team-oriented environment?

  • What programs or initiatives do they have to support diversity and inclusion?

  • How do they make sure they operate ethically?

  • How do they recognize and appreciate the hard work and achievements of their employees?

4. A range of different diagnoses.

Your CFY is a prime opportunity to build your skills across a wide range of diagnoses and patient needs. While you may be in one setting, you'll want an employer who can expose you to diverse cases and challenges.

Look for opportunities to work with patients across different age groups with various speech and language goals. For example, you might gain experience with:

  • Language development in children

  • Speech sound production

  • Fluency enhancement

  • Voice and resonance

  • Cognitive-linguistic skills in adults

Ask potential employers about the types of cases you'll encounter. Will you have the chance to work with both pediatric and adult populations? How diverse are the speech and language needs you'll be supporting?

ASHA requires that 80 percent of your CFY experience be spent in direct clinical contact. When discussing potential positions, ask employers how they structure the workday to ensure you'll meet this requirement. This high percentage of direct clinical work ensures you'll gain the hands-on experience you need to grow as a clinician.

Remember, the broader your experience during your CFY, the more versatile and skilled you'll be as you move forward in your career.

5.Compensation and benefits.

While passion for helping others is likely what drew you to speech-language pathology, it's important to consider the practical aspects of your CFY position. A well-rounded compensation package can provide the stability and support you need to focus on your professional growth.

When evaluating potential CFY opportunities, consider the following:

  • Salary: Is the salary offered competitive for your area and experience level?

  • Health Benefits: What kind of health insurance plans are available? Do they include dental and vision coverage?

  • Professional Development: Does the employer offer support for continuing education or conference attendance?

  • Work-Life Balance: Are there provisions for paid time off, sick leave, or flexible scheduling?

  • Retirement Plans: Is there a 401(k) or other retirement savings option?

  • Additional Perks: Look for other benefits that might be valuable to you, such as student loan repayment assistance, mentorship programs, or opportunities for career advancement.

Remember, compensation is more than just a paycheck. A comprehensive benefits package can significantly enhance your overall job satisfaction and financial well-being. Don't hesitate to ask potential employers for a detailed breakdown of their compensation and benefits offerings. This lets you make an informed decision that supports both your immediate needs and long-term career goals.

6. Company reputation and track record.

Investigate potential fellowship employers' reputation and track record within the professional community. Contact current or former fellows, CF mentors, and professionals familiar with the organizations you're considering.

Choose employers known for delivering exceptional support to children with autism and other developmental delays. Look for organizations with a solid reputation for providing high-quality care, achieving positive outcomes for their students, and opportunities for professional development.

This way, you ensure that you have the resources and support needed to make a meaningful difference in the lives of children with special needs.


Ready to find your perfect CFY match? Let's put our expertise to work for you!

As a leader in therapy services for children with autism and other developmental delays, INVO Health offers invaluable resources and expertise to enrich your fellowship experience. Joining our team means access to top-notch training, mentorship, and opportunities for professional growth.

Our dedication to helping children thrive aligns perfectly with your goals for this phase of your career. Reach out to us today so we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of students and advance the mission of our organization.


  1. "A Guide to the ASHA Clinical Fellowship Experience." American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, www.asha.org/certification/clinical-fellowship/.
  2. "Exploring the Mutual Benefits of Mentoring in the Workplace." UMass Global, www.umassglobal.edu/news-and-events/blog/benefits-of-mentoring-in-the-workplace.
  3. Chaker, Rawad, Mira Hajj-Hassan, and Sacha Ozanne. "The Effects of Online Continuing Education for Healthcare Professionals: A Systematic Scoping Review." Open Education Studies, doi:10.1515/edu-2022-0226, https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/edu-2022-0226/html

Written by Invo Companies | Posted July 03, 2024