People often ask, “What do you do?” It’s one of those leading questions, one of the opening lines to almost every conversational script.
Do you say, “I’m a speech-language pathologist” and watch them stand there guessing at follow ups? Or do you wait for the inevitable, “Okay…but what do you do?”
Personally, we like to go with Ol’ Faithful: “I help people better express themselves.” And if they lean in, tell them: “pathologists study the origin, nature and or course of disease. We track, chart and treat any disorder or condition in spoken language. My interests lie in the anatomy of language; how the brain and body (mostly the tongue and throat, the ears and lips of course but also the vocal cords, diaphragm) are uniquely built to accommodate and interpret the specific expressions, sounds, and intonations necessary to form and understand comprehensible language.”
Now, if their eyes haven’t glazed over, if instead they’re smiling at you, eyes dazzling with even more pointed questions, then congratulations, you’ve just made yourself a friend.
What does a Speech-Language Pathologist really do?
The primary mission of a speech-language pathologist is to assist in the expression and understanding of human language. SLPs are experts in the science of communication. They work with people of all ages to prevent, diagnose and treat disorders in speech, language, social, and cognitive communication – and swallowing – whether these challenges are due to illness, surgery or stroke.
At start, patients may speak with some difficulty, have rhythm and fluency issues (such as stuttering) or may be unable or unwilling to speak at all. Over time, after thorough examinations, assessments, exercises, and learned practices – all tailored to individual needs and personal goals – we may eventually reduce or eliminate some symptoms of these disorders and difficulties.
SLPs collaborate with the community of their patients, training family members, caregivers and other professionals – supporting them with the practical knowledge necessary to assist those who may have problems efficiently connecting or expressing themselves to those around them. The primary objective for SLPs is to be an aid in effective and easeful communication.
Certified professionals may also work with those who simply wish to learn how to use language more effectively with accent modification and pronunciation exercises.
What are some SLP services?
SLPs provide a multitude of services based on the needs of their clients and patients. The expertise of a qualified SLP is anchored in their ability to differentiate between various speech-language disorders and medical or developmental conditions. This process of diagnosis requires an acute attention to detail, and adherence of testing protocols, during examinations and treatment sessions.
This analysis allows experts to help their patients and clients develop necessary skills in comprehension, clarity, and sound production that will ultimately improve the ability to verbally connect with others.
Once a disorder or condition is diagnosed, a speech-language pathologist will be able to treat problems in articulation, fluency, voice resonance, language, cognition, hearing, swallowing, and social communication.
Qualified speech-language pathologists treat a variety of disorders and conditions, including (but not limited to):
- dysarthria (slurred or slowed speech)
- spasmodic dysphonia (spasming of the vocal cords)
- selective mutism
- aphasia (damage to the brain’s language center)
- speech delay
SLPs treat these and other ailments by assessing and addressing the root cause of condition or disorder, whether it be medical or developmental, then implementing exercises and practices to minimize or eliminate symptoms.
Depending on where they are stationed, whether it be a hospital, rehabilitation facility, school, or private practice, an SLP spends their work day studying and implementing the science of communication. This expertise is put to work for clients who would like to learn and practice techniques that would help them understand and better express themselves in the world around them.
Since people usually begin to exhibit symptoms of speech-language disorders after some manner of brain injury, stroke, or trauma, speech-language pathologists who work in hospitals or rehabilitation centers often collaborate with physicians, nurses, and even surgeons to establish specialized treatments for patients in recovery.
In these circumstances, a SLP may work directly with a patient in one on one sessions to assess and treat symptoms while physicians treat the trauma imposed.
School-based SLPs routinely collaborate with audiologists, therapists, classroom teachers, teacher assistants, and administrators to develop Individualized Education Plans for students that require special instruction in group or 1:1 settings for speech-language disorders.
What are some speech-language pathologist qualifications?
Professionals in the field typically have “CCC-SLP” listed after their name. They have earned a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology. Certification requires a:
- bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders
- master’s degree in speech pathology
- post-grad fellowship that includes supervised clinical experience
- state-mandated licensure and/or praxis exam
In order to maintain these credentials, one must accrue 30 additional hours of continuing education every three years through an ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) accredited resource. SLPs are expected to remain up to date on the latest research and constantly enhance their skill set and techniques in order to provide the highest quality care.
Apply for a Speech-Language Pathologist Position at Brooks Rehabilitation
Speech-language pathologists who work in one of Florida’s Brooks Rehabilitation centers become part of a world class medical team who proudly practice patient-centered care. Together with physicians, nurses, and other qualified professional staff, SLPs assist their patients along the road to optimal and long-lasting recovery.
Brooks is always welcoming compassionate, service oriented problem solvers into our experienced team. Ours is a group of nationally ranked therapists, physicians and nurses using innovative technology to go above and beyond patient expectation.
If you are a CCC-SLP who would like to work directly with patients in order to have a lasting impact on the lives of those in immediate need, Brooks Rehabilitation is the place for you.
If you are interested in joining our team, browse our current career opportunities and apply now.