Researching the Field
Mrs. Rhodes explained that students who are interested in a speech language pathology field should research the field to ensure it is a good fit for them. Students can begin this research through reading information about field and talking with speech pathologists.
In addition, Mrs. Rhodes explained it is not only important for students to be certain the field of speech language pathology is a good fit for them, but that they are also certain that they select a work setting within the field that is a good fit. A speech language pathologist may work in an educational setting or a medical facility. Some Speech Language Pathologists primarily work with children, while others work with adults. She explained there are different reasons that children and adults seek services. While childrenís speech therapy needs often stem from developmental disorders, adults often need speech therapy after experiencing a brain injury or stroke. The speech language pathologists who work in school settings rarely get to work one-on-one with the children. She explained that school speech language pathologists often provide therapy to groups of children who are working toward different goals. It is important to research the field carefully to understand what therapy in each setting involves.
Mrs. Rhodes said the best way for students to understand what speech language pathology field involves is to observe therapy sessions. She recommends that students observe both adult and child sessions. This will help them to develop a solid understanding of what a speech language pathologist does in each setting.
Preparing for a Graduate Program
Students entering speech language pathology programs have typically studied a communication-disorders field during their undergraduate education (bachelorís degree level). Undergraduate majors in communication disorders are designed to provide the appropriate educational background for masterís degree programs in speech language pathology and related professions, Actual titles of communications-disorders undergraduate majors vary among colleges. Some common titles of these majors include communication disorders, speech and hearing sciences, and speech language pathology and audiology.
The background education required for entry into a graduate speech language pathology program varies among graduate programs. If a studentís undergraduate program did not include any of the courses required by the masterís degree program they enter, the student will have to complete those courses either prior to enrollment or while taking courses in the graduate program.
Selecting a Program
Mrs. Rhodes explained that prospective speech language pathologists who plan to study and practice in the United States need to select a masterís degree program that is accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). ASHA is the governing board for speech language pathologists.
She also recommends that students select a program with clinical practice with both adults and children. For students interested in working as a school speech language pathologist, she recommends selecting a masterís degree program with a school-clinical requirement.
Mrs. Rhodesís Advice for Students:
- Make sure the field of speech language pathology is a good fit
- Select a work setting within speech language pathology that is a good fit
- Observe speech language pathologists working with clients
- Complete the necessary educational background during your undergraduate education
- Select a graduate program that is accredited through ASHA if studying and practicing in the United States
- Gain clinical practice in the type of work setting you to practice