I'm Anna Krueger, a certified speech language pathologist in British Columbia, Canada.
That's me in the middle, surrounded by my family. There were 10 of us when we took the picture and the family is still growing! Can you see my left arm in the picture? I had broken that arm in a rollover accident with my pickup truck. My arm took almost a year to heal.
During that time I couldn't drive. I couldn't lift therapy supplies. I had to type with one hand. Guess what? Throughout those months my private practice income didn't drop. That's because I had an established telepractice.
By the time of my accident, my website was attracting ideal leads without any paid advertising. I only needed one webcam session to turn them into long term paying clients. Some clients were continuing in therapy for several years.
Has the pandemic forced you to convert your private practice into a telepractice? You need a whole new skill set in order to keep providing therapy. Now you have to learn how to be an online entrepreneur. This site is for you, my dear colleagues.
My Telepractice Company
Visit Neuroplan Treatment Services to see my telepractice in action. You will find lead magnets, free downloads, an online consent form, an online scheduler and much more! I get lots of organic leads from Google search results.
My National Association
You can verify that I am a qualified professional. You will find my listing on the Speech-Language and Audiology Canada website. In addition to my clinical degree, I have met the requirements for national certification.
My Childhood Dream of Becoming a Therapist
I grew up in a Mennonite family, with German as my first language. My brother and I were the two youngest children of elderly parents. I was number 12. We were treasured, a blessing given to them late in life. This early experience has shaped me. I approach challenges with confidence and optimism. Our home was filled with the the smells of homemade food and flowers from our garden.
All of that changed suddenly when my mother died from cancer. My dad had never expected to be raising teenagers by himself in his 70's. He went into a tailspin, dying from a stroke when I was 17. My teenage years were filled with unrelenting grief.
Reading was one of the pastimes that bolstered me. My favourite stories were about therapists who rescued children. Back then, these therapists all had one-way mirrors. This was my dream...to become a therapist with a one-way mirror who rescued children from trauma and disabilities.
During my twenties, I went to university, got married, had three babies, completed a master's degree and started a private practice. It was a busy time! My husband and I could not have done it on our own. Our family and church community provided so much love and practical support.
My private practice was part-time. I also worked part-time in public practice. One of the truly gratifying moments was when I walked into my first office as a speech language pathologist with the Vancouver Health Department. Can you believe it? The office had a little observation room... with a one-way mirror!
I totally enjoyed private practice. My first initiative was called Speech Language Services for Independent Schools.
Hot tip for you: Pick a short name that fits on a cheque.
I created marketing materials and learned to negotiate contracts with school principals. In order to get a yearly contract with me, I asked them to hire an assistant that I could train. I would only be at the school once a month for assessments, training and monitoring. The assistant was responsible for implementation. I created templates and wrote manuals for all my intervention programs. I kept this going for 15 years, serving schools from Vancouver to Chilliwack, BC.
During the years when we were raising our children, my husband was working on a PhD. Our kids needed orthodontics and acne medications. There were not many openings for steady full time employment as a speech language pathologist in the Vancouver area. In addition, I didn't want to give up my private practice, so I worked in locum positions. I was covering for people on maternity leave and short-term disability.
During one five year period, I was laid off seven times. Most of these endings were expected because the regular employee came back to work. The final blow came when I was working in a regular part-time job providing computer tech solutions for students with communication impairments. This was a really good fit for me and it was my position, not a locum. The school district had to slash its budget so SLPs with 15 years of experience were laid off. Only the people with lots of seniority stayed. As a result, very senior SLPs who didn't know how to use computers were assigned to that caseload, whereas I was out of work.
I was so disheartened by union employment. It was clear that my skills were inconsequential to my public employer.
As you get older, you get a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. In my volunteer work, I was always the administrator.
I abandoned clinical practice and pursued administrative opportunities. I won a contract from my national association to establish guidelines for including communication assistants in our membership. This launched me into web development, since I had to do the interviews using online forms.
Then I got an even larger contract as a writer funded by a grant for acquired brain injury. I created training materials for teams providing rehab for acquired brain injury.
When this concluded, I optimistically started my own caseload management company. That is where the name Neuroplan came from. The focus was on planning rehab services for people with brain injuries.
Another hot tip: Use a made-up word in your company name. Make sure it is 15 letters or less. It will always rank well in Google because no one else is using that word.
Even though I have kept the name, I did not keep the caseload management services going. A better offer emerged.
I became a full-time case manager for a brain injury program with a regional health authority. In this administrative job, I arranged rehab and housing contracts. It was an ideal job for my personality and skills. Unfortunately, commuting in heavy traffic took two hours a day. By the weekend I was exhausted. It was less than ideal for my family.
I clearly remember the August weekend when my oldest daughter got engaged. How would I find time to focus on her during this important time in her life? A few days later I got an unexpected call from the human resources department of a school district close to my home. They were offering me a part time job as a speech language pathologist. The pay for three days a week was essentially the same as what I was making in five days a week as a brain injury case manager.
I took the offer. I should have known better.
Going back to the lack of control in a school district job really frustrated me.
My second daughter was teaching piano lessons from our home on Saturdays. One of the parents discovered that I was a speech language pathologist. Her son Ben needed therapy but he was attending a private Catholic school with no SLP.
This lioness would call me every few weeks to ask, "Anna, what are you going to do for Ben?"
Eventually I relented and started working with Ben in his home. You can guess what happened next. No...I wasn't swamped with referrals. I realized that being an entrepreneur made me happy.
One of my colleagues at the school district was having enormous success with Fast ForWord computerized intervention. The neuroscientist behind this software was Dr Mike Merzenick, the person who invented the cochlear implant. He understood the connection between auditory processing deficits, language and learning.
I became a clinical provider for the Scientific Learning Company and turned my home office into a computer lab. Ben became my first client. Six months later I was running brain training and literacy programs after school.
Shortly afterwards I resigned from the school district job. No regrets about that.
Eventually the Scientific Learning Company moved all their software online. It was no longer necessary to run a computer lab. My clients could use the software from home. I discovered telepractice! Since I was already capable of web design, I starting writing blog posts for my website. I spent many hours learning about digital marketing.
Doing Telepractice as a Subcontractor
Unfortunately, my income was much lower than it had been when I had a public job. I was eager to fill the middle of the day with clients. I thought that the fastest way to do this would be to work as a subcontractor for a large telepractice company. This was in 2013.
At first it was exciting because I was learning so many new skills. I discovered that 20 minute sessions every week produced outcomes quickly. I could do three sessions in an hour without driving anywhere or hauling materials up a flight of stairs. My caseload was school children who lived in remote parts of British Columbia. It was so enjoyable filling my days with children who needed my clinical skills!
Unfortunately, the telepractice company had a bloated platform. They expected me to do interactive games, score correct productions and write progress notes during the session. That's right, not afterwards but during. This meant having three to four functions open at the same time. Their platform crashed relentlessly when I was trying to work with clients who had poor bandwidth. If the session didn't take place, I didn't get paid. Supervisors would try to join a session in order to do a clandestine observation. At first, I didn't know that this was possible. Eventually, I discovered that this was one more thing the platform could not handle.
This experience exposed me to the disadvantages of being a subcontractor. In order to plan my therapy sessions, write progress notes and write assessment reports, I was spending way more hours than the company was willing to pay me for. They imposed a limit of 5 minutes for a progress note and 30 minutes for an assessment report. When I added up all my time, paid and unpaid, I was making $12 per hour. I already had my own company. Why was I letting another company take advantage of me and profit from my conscientiousness?
I felt disrespected at a deeper level as well. This large telepractice company was misrepresenting the scope of practice of speech language pathology. Their service model was aimed at providing direct therapy for articulation delays.
One of the children I was working with had just recieved a voice output device because she was non-speaking. This area of speech language pathology is called Augmentative and Alternative Commuication (AAC). Teaching the family and school team to implement such a device takes specialized skills and many hours. I had the AAC skills but not the support. The company expected me to do the same 20 minute session as an articulation case, without any funding to connect with her family, the teacher or the IEP team.
I stuck it out until June and then transitioned to offering telepractice services in my own private practice. By 2014, I was doing 100% telepractice.
My Own Specialized Telepractice
Now I specialize in online intervention for speech, language and learning. You are welcome to visit Neuroplan Treatment Services and explore my services. I design customized therapy programs using about 30 different software programs and apps. My clients log into their online programs daily. I am able to offer intensive therapy at a fraction of the cost of 1:1 sessions.
I provide unlimited support to my clients and their treatment teams. I do this using webcam sessions and email.
Asynchronous telepractice has opened up possibilities that are delighting me. I wish this had been possible when I was younger. It will be the next generation of clinicians who will really benefit.
Here is what I know for sure: For many years, I regretted becoming a speech language pathologist because of the lack of control over my career in public jobs and as a subcontractor. As an online entrepreneur, I’m in charge.
I embrace technology as a way to help my clients and as a way to automate my business processes.
The work I do is grounded in providing hope. I create the treatment plan and set up the curriculum. They faithfully do the work. I’m still astonished by what my clients can accomplish with intensive therapy.
My professional colleagues urgently need hope right now. After all their university training, it is just plain wrong that they have been thwarted by the pandemic. Now they must become online entrepreneurs in order to keep providing therapy. Some of them deeply resent this. Some are unemployed and desperate. Some are afraid of massive financial losses because their clinic can no longer function like it did in the past.
The work I want to do for professionals is grounded in compassion and intelligence. I gained the skills to succeed as an online entrepreneur because I had the time and freedom to learn. My professional colleagues need to become online entrepreneurs more quickly, with less struggle and less cost because their clinical skills are urgently needed.
Work done well feels like getting to the top of a mountain quickly. I like helping my therapy clients make rapid progress in a short amount of time.
For my professional colleagues, the same rings true. I want to help them make rapid progress in a short amount of time.
It is my intention that professionals who take my training will show the world that therapists help people improve brain skills, overcome problems and pursue dreams. Without access to rehab and therapy, people can't live their best life. The need is clear.
I founded The Telepractice Way in order to guide therapists toward success in building a telepractice business.
You don't need to be a speech language pathologist in order to benefit from the training and resources that I am offering. Welcome! You are whole-heartedly invited to participate in The Telepractice Way.