SPEECH/LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST & AUDIOLOGIST

Speech/language pathology and audiology are the health disciplines devoted to improving communication skills. A speech/language pathologist works with health disorders affecting the voice, speech and language. An audiologist specializes in hearing problems in children and adults. Speech and hearing processes are so inextricably intertwined, however, that audiologists must understand speech/language pathology, and speech/language pathologists must be familiar with audiology.

Speech/language pathologists evaluate and treat problems including difficulties with articulation, fluency, vocal nodules caused by improper voice use, as well as problems with organizing heard or spoken language that result from brain disorders or strokes. These professionals also work with patients who have conditions such as cleft palate, mental retardation and hearing loss.

Audiologists use special instruments to measure hearing ability and determine the presence and type of hearing loss. Also, audiologists recommend hearing aids or other devices to help those with hearing loss to hear as well as possible. They conduct rehabilitation programs to help the hearing-impaired communicate better.

HOW DO I BECOME A SPEECH/LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST OR AUDIOLOGIST?

A master’s degree is the minimum entry-level requirement. Undergraduate programs in speech/hearing are available as preparation for the professional degree. However, undergraduate degrees in education, psychology or other related fields are also acceptable.

WHAT WILL I LEARN IN SCHOOL?

High school students should concentrate on general college preparatory courses such as math, science, English, and foreign languages.

The master’s degree program in speech/language pathology covers anatomy, speech and language pathologies, therapeutic approaches and other related topics.  Studies in audiology cover the anatomy of speech and hearing mechanisms, speech and hearing science, audiometry (measurement of hearing acuity), hearing rehabilitation and other related topics.

LIFE AFTER GRADUATION

Graduates of accredited programs are eligible for state licensure after passing an exam given by the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association (ASLHA).

Understanding, patience and compassion are combined with scientific skills in the field of speech-language pathology and audiology. The clinician is counselor, teacher and friend to the patient, while serving as special consultant to the patient’s physician, nurse and other therapists. He or she helps patients to understand and overcome their disabilities and teaches them how to use sophisticated equipment, such as hearing aids and electronic communication-assistance devices. The therapy process can be long, tedious and emotionally draining.

HOW DO I BEGIN A CAREER AS A SPEECH/LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST OR AUDIOLOGIST?

Speech/language pathologists work in schools, hospitals, colleges, rehabilitation centers, research institutions, public health agencies, and in private practice.  Audiologists also work in a variety of settings including hospitals, industry, state agencies, and private practice.

PROFESSIONAL INFORMATION SOURCES:

American Speech, Language, Hearing Association
(800) 498- 2071
www.asha.org