An Inside Look Into the Life of a Speech Pathologist

An Inside Look Into the Life of a Speech Pathologist

Luke Hornsby, Reporter

My sister Madeline is what is known as a speech pathologist. So, what is a speech pathologist? Here is a breakdown of what a degree in speech pathology and what the path to get there looks like. 

First off, what exactly is a speech pathologist and what do they do? Simply, a speech pathologist is someone who specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of speech disorders. These disorders consist of communication disorders, voice disorders, and things more physical like swallowing disorders. So, let’s start from the beginning. What types of subjects and skills must you practice becoming a speech pathologist? Well first is the scientific side of things, my sister Madeline took classes on Anatomy and Physiology to learn how exactly the human body’s system works. This allowed her to be able to understand the different types of problems people may have with their speech and what may be the cause of it. Madeline also took some Communicative disorders courses. She says, “Graduate school required more communicative disorder courses at a more advanced level in addition to field work which allowed me to start practicing my clinical skills within and outside of the university.” Speech pathology requires both a knowledge of the body and its vocal system, and an ability to recognize where a specific problem may be coming from. 

One major part of choosing this degree is time management. Like all college journeys, Madeline’s path towards her speech pathology degree required lots of studies, which brought lots of sacrifices. She spent six years in both school and clinical settings to get experience in the field. This took both lots of time, and lots of dedication. She says, “In addition to classes I took, both degrees required large amounts of studying, a part time job to pay for the graduate program, and field work. It was difficult to juggle school life as well as a social life and other personal responsibilities.” Once one is in the field and helping clients, there are specific traits one must have in order to do the job well. For example, Madeline specifically helps young children who have speech disorders and says that traits one must have to help the young clients consist of self-awareness, passion, empathy, lots of energy, responsibility, enthusiasm, and sometimes, even silliness. 

Like most jobs, having a full-time job as a speech pathologist is a large shift from being a college student. Just like her path throughout school, Madeline’s work life requires time management and a good work ethic. She says that sometimes she has to bring things such as paperwork home, but it is still much less work to bring home than in school. She says that as a speech pathologist, there are some areas that often need problem solving on a daily basis. These areas consist of adjusting treatment plans to be appropriate for the client’s needs as they progress, and since she is dealing with children, she must ensure that their treatment is in line with the parents’ desires for their child. 

Why exactly did Madeline choose to become a speech pathologist? She says that during her time in high school her Spanish teacher mentioned that she was going back to school for speech pathology. She says, “At that time I was still discerning what kind of career I wanted to go into. I was leaning towards something similar to teaching or nursing, but it didn’t quite fit my interests. I had a conversation with my Spanish teacher and the scope of speech pathology seemed to be something I could really love.” Now that she has accomplished her goal and is now a speech pathologist, she says that the biggest accomplishments in the field of speech language pathology is her clients meeting their goals. She says, “I work day-to-day providing therapy in order to help a child to use his/her voice in a more functional, efficient, and natural way in order to support them in meeting their goals. The biggest accomplishment is to see that client be able to eventually communicate independently.” I then went on to ask her what her favorite thing about being a speech pathologist was. Here is what she said: “My favorite thing about being a speech pathologist is all the different ways I am able to help a child. Not only am I able to help children to be well understood or express their ideas more efficiently, but through that I am also able to improve their ability to have friendships, be more confident in school, and help them to be more understood. The Scope of speech language pathology is very wide and rewarding.

In conclusion, becoming a speech pathologist is not only a neat career choice, but also one that is in the business of helping others. I honestly think that with a good work ethic and good time management, anyone can pursue their dream of whatever degree they choose, and I am very proud of my sister Madeline for having done so, setting a good example of what hard work truly looks like.