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What Is Your job Title?
Speech Language Pathologist
What Does a Speech Language Pathologist Do?
Speech language pathologists work with people of all ages that have communication or swallowing difficulties. These difficulties may be developmental in nature or result from illness or injury. The SLP assists individuals through assessment and therapy to develop, adapt or regain skill relevant to the problem. Most SLPs work in schools, all areas of health care and also in private practice or academic settings.
What Training Is Necessary to Do Your Work?
SLPs are educated professionals who have a minimum of a Master’s degree in their field. SLPs are required to study anatomy and physiology, but they also study neuroanatomy, genetics, language development, linguistics, psychology, acoustics and more, which is why they are qualified to evaluate, diagnose and treat a broad range of delays and disorders.
There is no training program in Saskatchewan. Students must travel to one of many universities in the United States or one of the 11 programs in Canada.
Where Do You Work?
SLPs working for the Health Regions work in hospitals, health care centres, long-term care facilities, and in the community.
Who Needs Your Services and Why?
SLPs work with individuals of all ages who have illness or injury that results in communication or swallowing problems – this might includes children with autism or developmental disabilities or adults with traumatic brain injuries or strokes and other neurological diseases.
Communication problems can affect a person’s ability to engage in normal personal or work related interactions, and if severe, can be life altering and isolating. Swallowing problems may be a serious health problem that can lead to life threatening issues relating to malnutrition, choking or respiratory problems occurring from food entry into the lungs. Swallowing difficulty can also isolate an individual from the many social activities that involve food and community.
What Is Your Favourite Part of Your Job?
I enjoy working with the wide variety of people I meet in my work.
What Challenges Do You Have in Your Job?
Many challenges relate to maintaining a cheerful and positive attitude while working with people in stress or suffering from illness or injury.
What Are the Consequences When There Are Not Enough People with Your Training to Provide Service?
Inadequate staffing levels result in additional stress because we are not able to provide the best services – we either must cut back on time with individual patients or have wait lists. People that need our services might have excessive wait times to see an SLP to help them with language problems that limit their ability to interact with family and friends or work at their jobs, or with swallowing difficulties that leave them at risk for choking or developing aspiration pneumonias. In some rural regions of the province, there are very few or no services at all – so people go without help or must travel to a major city.
People needing our services may be at risk for delayed or incomplete recovery because of inability to access our service. Others may be at risk for serious health problems like pneumonia related to swallowing disorders.