Thinking About Group Think
Published in the January 2024 issue of the ISHA Voice
By Michelle Zemsky Dineen
Michelle is the Ethics Education Committee Chair.
I doubt we could imagine the many uses of the internet back when we made our first searches. If you ever need a good story about learning search terms, I am your person. Many professional and leisure avenues to pursue including research, restaurant reviews, driving directions, sharing family and pet photos, staying current on professional topics, trendy dance moves, the ISHA Ethics in Action Student Video contest (see what I did there), more pet photos, the list goes on. Sometimes questions are directed to our colleagues through these forums looking for specific information while other times it is more of a What Would YOU Do. We get the benefits of group think without having to make a dozen calls, after 9 PM when minutes are free.
I am not entirely sure how I began receiving notifications from this particular forum, but I read a post that gave me pause to reflect on the ASHA Code of Ethics (2023). The writer had miscalculated their continuing education hours when completing licensure renewal-- What should I do? Let the group think begin! The post was anonymous and failed to indicate the state; no suggestion that this SLP is from Illinois is made or implied.
Our fields represent a wise and creative group of individuals, I was curious what others might share. To my surprise, most posters suggested doing nothing other than completing the hours ASAP. They further wrote that the prospect of being audited was unlikely. I was stunned with both the responses and that the overall tone was that of majority rules based on the writer seeming to follow the most frequently suggested advice. I brought up the Code of Ethics (ASHA, 2023); it was not a popular response. The original poster subsequently indicated it was an honest mistake, and I wondered if that mattered it the world of ethics. Intent may matter philosophically or morally, but would the state and/or ASHA consider intent? It is difficult to tell without knowing which state and doing some research.
Each state may have different procedures and penalties in such matters. Surely this person is not the first, or last, to err and self-disclosure likely plays a role versus being identified through an audit. The goal of asking the question may have been genuine, what do I do!? Simultaneously, it may have been to get support for doing nothing. Various motivators may be present.
My response was not popular in this limited sample. Perhaps it was unsupportive without greater context. How would you advise the writer? How do you ensure you have not miscalculated your hours? What would YOU do (and would it depend on what others said)? Oh, and if you want more pet pictures, #followme!
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2023). Code of Ethics [Ethics]. Available from www.asha.org/policy/.
Michelle is the Chair of ISHA's Ethics Education Committee and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Elmhurst University. She is passionate about teaching and learning with her students and colleagues through collaboration, and honoring what we all bring to the table to serve patients/clients and their families.