FROM THE PFD ALLIANCE: A FOCUS ON EDUCATION
Published by Amy Delaney, PhD, CCC-SLP on Mar 22, 2023
As we approach our 10th Annual International PFD Conference, I look forward to learning from expert colleagues about new ideas and strategies that we can use in the care of children with PFD. It comforts me knowing that Feeding Matters has worked diligently to offer content that has been both reviewed for bias and is rooted in evidence. This makes me reflect on the current educational landscape and how it has changed over time.
Thinking back to when I first entered the field (and yes, I’m aging myself), sources for educational content were textbooks and hard copies of journal articles, either arriving in my mailbox or checked out by me at the library. Unfortunately, these old-school sources were nearly outdated by the time they entered my hands. In-person conferences were the only method for me to learn what things were at the cutting edge from my peers and scientists in the field.
Learning today has never been easier! Today’s technology affords endless formats and venues from which we receive information. We have access to first-hand information directly from researchers, clinical experts, and parents. We see examples of different disorders and impairments and clinically validated intervention strategies while standing in line for coffee, or even while on a walk.
Unfortunately, access to everything all the time can be overwhelming, and it may be difficult for a learner to navigate material without a good understanding of its strengths and potential weaknesses. It may seem that everyone is an expert and it’s hard to discern that the information being shared may not be objective, evidence-based, and/or appropriately interpreted. It may be difficult to know which sources to prioritize for one’s learning.
What are my best options? Who am I listening to and what is the underlying evidence? For social media, if one source has more followers than another, is it more likely to be correct or validated? Who is vetting the information? Here are a few pitfalls to keep in mind:
- Saying something with confidence and fancy graphics does not make it sound evidence.
- A greater number of followers does not guarantee information is superior to that from a source with fewer followers.
- Be mindful of individuals who discount or contradict what you have learned to be reliable and clinically validated information.
- Conversely, be mindful of individuals who purport that information is accurate because it’s how it has always been done.
- Is the information based on published studies or other peer-reviewed content?
- Is the source only promoting a product?
- Is the source acting in a professional manner that is ethical and considerate of other opinions?
As we continue to navigate our educational options, consider some of the following suggestions:
- Use multiple sources for learning. Maintain a broad diet of information that includes social media, webinars, and in-person meetings. A broad educational repertoire is always best.
- Dig a little deeper into a new source of information. Learn about your favorite vloggers and what their experience may be. What is their profession and their training? What population of children do they see? Know who you are listening to and trusting to contribute to your clinical journey.
- Think critically about what you’re learning. Does it make sense? Does it continue to enhance your knowledge and practice? Does it contradict well-known evidence?
- Rely on your professional organizations to review the current state of information and evidence and provide experienced perspective on how new ideas may fit into established paradigms.
- Advocate that we need pediatric feeding and swallowing taught at the university level to give everyone a foundation.
We, as a community of PFD providers and families, must lift each other and support each other in our learning to advance the field and the lives of children and families with PFD.
Amy L. Delaney, PhD, CCC-SLP
PFD Alliance Education Chair