Speech Pathology As A Career Essay, Research Paper
For the many people afflicted with a speech impediment, there often seems to be little hope. Many of these people are ridiculed as children, or cast out of society as a young adult. Many are sent to doctors and specialists who try to determine what is ?wrong? with them. On occasion, they will meet a person who can help them, and ultimately, change their life for the better. This person is a speech patholgist. As one woman, the mother of three, said: ?I think the one thing I would like to make sure this articles says is that speech therapy is well worth the time invested, that these services are definitely out there? (Greene). One of the most rewarding, enduring, and expanding professions is speech pathology.
Speech pathology is a new profession. It is also a somewhat controversial one. Many believe that it has its merits; however there are a few noisy people who believe that speech pathology is a useless ambition. They believe that children suffering from a speech disorder will eventually grow out of it. However, that goes along with the territory of being a relatively new medical profession. It first surfaced in the late 1940s, after World War II. Many soldiers returned from the frontlines with head wounds that limited speech. Teachers, neurologists, and other doctors wanted to help the injured men, and a profession was born (Enderby and Emerson 1). Speech pathologists work with people who cannot speak clearly or at all. They also work with people who have problems with swallowing and eating. Working with a speech pathologist may be an audiologist, who works with the hearing impaired (Price). The speech pathologist tries to find what the culprit of a patient?s speech problem might be. These problems include rhythm problems, harsh voices, and problems with comprehending the language. Speech pathologists evaluate the patient?s needs by using formal tests to discover his or her ability to make sound. Once they have identified a problem, the speech pathologist begins treatment. The speech pathologist will use ?oral stimulation, activities that develop language and speech skills, and the practice of articulation, instructions in breathing, and sound support? (Hirsch). Speech pathologists work with both children and adults. The patients often suffer from a wide variety of problems: late development, cleft palate, hearing loss, mental retardation, brain damage, stroke, or emotional problems (Reich 177). It is important that children with suspected speech disorders be screened early because research has shown that these disorders can lead to learning disabilities later in life (Kalb and Namuth). The elderly often need assistance as their hearing declines with age.
Speech pathologists, also called speech therapists, run many different tests on their patients. Once the tests have yielded a sufficient result (enough to make a diagnosis), the speech pathologist will create treatments for the patient. These may include verbal games. The speech pathologist may have the patient work with forming correct sounds, or they might work with breathing patterns. Sometimes the problem is psychological, and then the speech therapist will not only work with the patient and their verbal skills, but he or she might bring in another doctor. The speech pathologist is a member of a group working together for the good of the patient. This group might include: psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, otolarynologist, and social workers (Anderson and Snyder).
Speech pathologists cannot be impatient, random people. A speech pathologist must be a caring person. His or her heart must be filled with compassion and love, but also with determination and intense concentration. A speech pathologist is someone that truly wants to give to another person. The speech pathologist might even feel pity for the patient, but that is not what is needed. A sharp sense of direction and deep concentration on the progress of each and every individual is vital not only for the success of the patient but for the speech pathologist, too. He or she must possess a good sense of objectivity, and must not be frustrated by slow progress. A speech pathologist needs a keen eye for details. These details are often the keys to helping a person unlock his or her voice. A speech pathologist should be able to counsel his or her patient and the patient?s family. One must not only be a therapist, but a friend, a role model, and a confidante.
Being a speech pathologist is one of the most rewarding careers available. After spending one?s time, effort, and concentration on a person, a speech pathologist gets to see the end result. Watching a shy child become one of the most articulate students in class, or seeing a husband tell his wife that he still loves her is almost payment enough. ?Seeing firsthand the rehabilitation of children and adults with hearing and speech problems? is something that affects the soul (Kleman 227). Being able to have helped that person along the way warms the heart of even the cruelest man.
In order to reap the rewards of speech pathology, one must first finish high school, and then go to college. During high school, one should have a strong background in science. If it is at all possible, an aspiring speech pathologist should also take classes in psychology. Upon entrance of college most will obtain an undergraduate degree. Studies should include anatomy, biology, physiology, physics, and speech related areas: linguistics, semantics, and phonetics (Hopke 638). The speech pathology major should also take courses in psychology and acoustics. Graduate training is made up of five general topics: the development of languages, speech and hearing; evaluation of patients; the nature of speech problems; research techniques; and treatment (Gregory 773).
After attending college and graduating with a degree, the new speech pathologist must pass a written exam to be licensed. This exam, given by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), is known as the Certificate of Competence. ASHA is an organization, similar to a labor union, made up by speech pathologists and audiologists. It is approaching the 90,000 mark in members (Danser). The Certificate of Competence is vital and mandatory in most cases. All of these members have not only passed the test, but also have had a yearlong internship. Speech pathologists must have 300-375 hours of clinical experience before licensing, which is mandatory in thirty-six states (Hopke 638). ?With such a strong emphasis on education, practical experience, and licensure, entrants to this field must work long and hard? (Princeton). A speech pathologist must be able to concentrate on all of his or her studies, because each and every fact he or she learns will be put to later use.
Speech pathologists are in high demand. Jobs opportunities for speech pathologists are on the rise. Enrollment has doubled at schools offering speech pathology as a major. Fontbonne College, in Missouri, says that one hundred percent of their graduates are employed (Tucci). This trend is expected to continue. In fact, due to the aging of America, particularly of its Baby Boomers, many more speech pathologists will be needed by the year 2000. Approximately the demand will be for more than 15,000 new speech pathologists (Kleman 226). ?Nearly half of the new jobs arising through the end of the decade are expected to be in speech and hearing clinics??(Hopke 639). This is very good for the people in this line of work.
Almost half of all speech pathologists work within the school setting. The other pathologists work in hospitals, clinics, or with home health care services. The fastest growing area of speech pathology is that of the private practice. The speech pathologists in schools work with children, from elementary through high school levels. Speech pathologists that work in more of a medical backdrop spend their time with children also, but they do a lot of work with older persons. Speech pathologists working in medical facilities deal with head traumas and more severe forms of speech disorders than the speech pathologist located at the local elementary school. Speech pathologists work approximately forty hours a week. While researching, a speech pathologist might be on the job for a much longer period of time. Most available jobs offer typical benefit fringes. These include sick leave, paid vacations, and retirement programs (Hopke).
Speech pathologists that work in schools earn about $30,000.00 a year upon exiting college. After some experience, the average wage is about $38,000.00. Speech pathologists that work in hospitals or clinics make around $38,000.00 starting out, but after a few years of work, they earn about $42,000.00. In home health care services, a speech pathologist earns about $50,000.00 annually (Bacon). As the increase for speech pathologists grows, the salary will likely go with it.
Diane Crow, a speech pathologist that works for the Lumpkin County School System, does not regret her decision on career choice at all. After obtaining a Bachelor?s degree in psychology, Ms. Crow went into the Speech-Language Pathology program at the University of Southern Florida. She knew the director of Speech-Language Pathology studies. The director was always trying to get Ms. Crow to join in his classes. When she finally did, she decided to get her Master?s in speech pathology. Ms. Crow studied most of the previously listed courses required to receive a speech pathology degree at present. Ms. Crow believes that a speech pathologist must be able to form good IEP?s; which are ?special programs made to meet each individual child?s needs? (Crow). A speech pathologist must be creative, and be able to handle lots of paperwork. Ms. Crow prefers working with younger people. They are often times more willing to work than a more aged individual. The paper work and tough scheduling are the stressful aspects of her job. Although this does put stress on her, it is rewarding to ?see dismissed children correcting all of their sounds? (Crow). Her advice towards an aspiring speech pathologist is very informative and helpful. She says that while one is earning his or her clinical hours, to do the work in a variety of setting with a variety of people and ages.
Speech pathology is a career that has its ups and downs. Although it is stressful, it is also one that makes not only the patient smile, but the teacher, as well. The hours spent working with individuals are often very rewarding. The classes are tough and will continue to be so, probably more difficult due to the growing interest of speech pathology as a profession. One must have willpower and a sincere interest in speech pathology in order to pass and learn all that he or she needs to know. Jobs are also going to be readily available for speech pathologists. There will definitely be openings in this future, which is good due to the recent increase in competitiveness in the job market. Speech pathology is a field that will always be interesting. As time goes on, more and more will be known about speech and its disorders. Perhaps there will be much simpler treatments in the future. Speech pathologists must be constantly learning, not only from periodicals and texts, but also for the people around them and their patients.
The ultimate job of the speech pathologist is to help people with speech problems. The pathologist can do this through a number of ways. He or she must assess and address a vast array of problems. By doing this the speech pathologist will have a career that is giving of his or herself to another person. In a tiny way speech pathologists help humanity.