I got the chance to shadow a speech-language pathologist in the Ohio Health Rehabilitation Hospital. Here is a brief overview of what speech-language pathologists do.
-Prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive communication, and swallowing disorders
-Work with both children and adults
-Can work at schools, hospitals, or private clinics
-Requires a license and a masters degree
About My Day
While I can't go into much detail, I can give a general overview along with my opinion on the job. I started at 7 a.m. looking over documentation about the patients with the pathologist. In a hospital setting, it's important for SLPs to know an abundance of medical terms, not just terms that apply to speech language pathology. From there, we travelled to different rooms and spent around an hour with each patient. Each patient was different, with different goals and different circumstances. With some patients, the SLP mainly utilized normal conversation along with questions that focus on memory retrieval. For more advanced patients, the SLP would bring an activity that would include both memory and math. As an SLP, an eight hour workday is pretty normal. So that was pretty much my day. We went from appointment to appointment without much time in between.
What I Wore
I wore dress pants along with a nice blouse and tennis shoes. SLPs are on their feet the whole day so tennis shoes are allowed. But it is also important to look professional. However, on the weekends, it is not uncommon to see SLPs in leggings and a nice shirt. It's important to be comfortable yet look professional and presentable at the same time. One article of clothing that is never allowed (at least in a hospital setting) is jeans.
What I Found Interesting
Working With Kids or Adults
At first, I was leaning more towards working with children rather than adults. While I spent the day working with adults, I was able to discuss with the SLP about what it is like to work with kids.
With children, an SLP has to make the activity fun and exciting. They usually play games with the children while simultaneously trying to incorporate exercises to correct any speech problems they may have. It's also important to discuss with the parents what is happening during the sessions with their children. If not, then the parents are very likely to think that they are paying money to have the child play games instead of correcting their child's speech. SLPs work at many different locations but I could not find myself working as an SLP in a school. I would much rather work in a hospital, nursing home, or in a private practice.
On the other hand, with adults, an SLP does not need to make the sessions fun. What I liked about working with adults was that an SLP can discuss the patient's goals with them and the patient will work hard to reach them. No exciting games needed. Especially in a hospital setting, adults want to get better and return home and if reaching their goals allows them to return home then they are eager to attain their goals. Further, adults have more problems with swallowing so by working with adults, SLPs work with a wider range of issues.
So while I haven't shadowed an SLP that works with children, I still think I would rather work with adults.
Could I See Myself As a SLP?
I could find myself in a career in speech language pathology. At first, being an SLP was just an option. I wasn't too sure about it considering I didn't know much about the job. While this job does require a Masters, I think it would be worth it in the end. It is a good job that can also be highly rewarding. It fits me, considering I'm good at working with data and people. I also like that there is a lot of flexibility when it comes to hours.