Are you some one who longs to make a difference in people’s lives? Are you good at communication skills? Do you enjoy working with people? Are you analytical and patient? Would you like to take the road less travelled? If your answer to most of these questions is yes, you might just make a very good Speech Pathologist and Audiologist.
But who is a Speech Pathologist and Audiologist (SLPA) and what does he/she do?
BSLPAs are Doctors who are trained to deal with all aspects of disordered communication. They diagnose and provide rehabilitation services to both adults and children with speech, language and hearing problems. A child who stutters or has a cleft palate, an elderly person who has lost speech after a stroke, people with voice problems, an infant whose parents suspect its hearing, people who have difficulty with their hearing are some of the people that a SLA routinely sees.
Bachelors in Audiology & Speech language pathology (BASLP), as per the official website is study of normal & disordered functioning of the auditory system, the speech mechanism, and language processing. It is designed to produce professionals who are proficient in treating persons with communication deficits such as fluency disorders, motor disorders, language related disorders.
Speech pathology and Audiology are allied health careers where the professionals are qualified by special training, education, skills and experience to provide health care service and treatment. Once you earn the qualification, as a practitioner you will not be known as a physician but rather known specifically as speech pathologists and audiologists.
There is likely to be an increasing demand for their services in the corporate world too where people are looking to improve their communication skills.
Once you are a graduate from India you will have to apply for the Medical Council of Sri Lanka / Maldives and get the Registration to practice. You do not have to sit for any examination. The Bangalore University and Mangalore University Degrees are highly recognised by the Medical Council.
The job prospects at home or abroad include diagnosing communication disorders and swallowing disorders. Planning and implementing treatment in language, speech, voice and swallowing disorders. Educating and counselling individuals, families, co-workers, educators, and other persons in the community regarding acceptance, adaptation, and decision making about communication, swallowing, or other upper aero digestive concerns.
BASLP professionals work closely with ENT, neurology, psychiatric, paediatrics, surgery and oncology departments in hospitals, where cases involving hearing and speech-language related problems crop up.
Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists are independent professionals and are amongst the most sought after professionals. There is a global shortage of these professionals.
Student, who graduate from this course are qualified to be appointed as Audiologists, Speech and Language Pathologists in various disciplines. They are uniquely placed to fulfil a growing demand from various walks of life. They are the authority in diagnosing and managing problems related to communication and Hearing Disorders. The field of Communication Sciences and Disorders is made up of Speech-Language Pathologists, Audiologists, and Speech, Language and Hearing scientists. With the advent of Cochlear Implants the role of the audiologists and speech and language pathologists has become even more important.
Speech-Language pathologists :
Speech-Language pathologists are professionals concerned with evaluation, treatment, prevention and research in human communication and its disorders. They treat, manage speech and language disorders and work with individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly. They diagnose and evaluate speech problems such as fluency (e.g., stuttering), articulation and voice disorders; language problems such as aphasia; and delayed language and related disorders such as dysphagia (e.g., swallowing difficulties).
They design and carry out comprehensive treatment plans to achieve the following:
Audiologists are autonomous professionals who identify, assess and manage disorders of the auditory, balance and other related neural systems. Audiologists provide audiological (aural) rehabilitation to children and adults. Audiologists select, fit and dispense amplification systems such as hearing aids and related devices. Audiologists help in prevention of hearing loss through the provision and fitting of hearing protective devices, consultation on the effects of noise on hearing, and consumer education. Audiologists are involved in auditory and related research pertinent to the prevention, identification and management of hearing loss; tinnitus; and balance system dysfunction. Audiologists serve as expert witnesses in litigation related to their areas of expertise.
Their services and activities are as follows:
Speech, Language and Hearing Scientists :
Speech, language and hearing scientists are professionals concerned with exploring trends in communication sciences and disorders, as well as developing strategies for improving or adding to the knowledge base within the fields of speech-language pathology and audiology. These scientists provide the foundation on which clinicians base their practice methodology.
Hospitals & Nursing Care Facilities: Most major hospitals SLPAs, usually in the E.N.T. or the Neurology department. Occasionally a separate department of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology may be established. Many private hospitals have the services of a visiting SLPA, who may visit several places.
Private practice: There is an increase in demand for people in private practice as here, the client usually has the advantages of a suitable time, shorter distance etc.
Schools: Schools for special children, (developmentally delayed, hearing impaired, children with autism etc) welcome the services of SLPAs. One can also work in regular schools where a sizeable chunk has different communication problems and also learning disabilities. Most public schools in the U.S employ SLPAs.
Academic institutions: Those inclined towards teaching can work in training institutes that offer programmes in speech language pathology and audiology, many of which are also engaged in research. Clinical jobs are also usually available at these places. Clinical service refers to evaluation and treatment of clients with communication disorders.
Industries: Large industries sometimes employ a SLA to measure noise levels in the industries, test the hearing of employees and also to provide them with rehabilitative services.
N.G.Os: Some N.G.Os work with disabled children and a SLA can help in the children’s rehabilitation and also help train the workers at the grassroot level. These organizations also provide the SLA an opportunity to work in the villages where there is an acute dearth of speech and hearing facilities.
Hearing aid/Cochlear implant companies: Big players in the field who manufacture hearing aids and cochlear implants (cochlear implants are electronic devices that are surgically implanted in hearing impaired people who don’t derive significant benefit from hearing aids) employ audiologists to not only test clients and prescribe appropriate aids but also to run rehabilitation programmes)
Ha, but before you envisage yourself working in any of these settings, you must be aware of the required
Home Health Agencies:
Long-term Care Facilities:
Centers for Persons with Developmental Disabilities:
Health Department, State or Government Agencies:
Adult Day Care Facilities and Business:
The BASLP & MASLP has one of the best career prospects now. Majority of the students who joined the course last few years are children of successful Doctors, who, despite having hospitals and nursing homes of their own, elected to send their children for this course, taking into consideration the enormous career opportunities.
Students who complete the BASLP & MASLP course are eminently employable, within India and overseas. A fresh under graduate starts with a basic salary of Rs.35,000, and post graduate Rs.45,000/- in most centers and this is only likely to increase in the near future.
In many western countries the pay scale for the Speech language Pathologist starts from US $75,000 and may go upto US$15000 . Pay scale for audiologist are even more attractive may vary from US$ 100000 to US$ 25000.Our students who are in the internship are already receiving attractive offers from many centers overseas.
Training: he training programmes consist of a three-year graduate course followed by a year of internship. Most institutes follow a semester system. The post graduate programme is of two-year duration and usually leads to a specialization in either Audiology or Speech Language Pathology. Although one can start working after B.Sc., career prospects are brighter for those with M.Sc. Entry into the course is after 12th standard or equivalent. It is necessary to have studied science subjects in the qualifying exam. Some institutes conduct an entrance exam for the bachelor’s programme itself.
Admission to M.Sc. programmes is usually through a written exam and the eligibility for that is a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing. There are also facilities for pursuing Ph.D. in the field. For those, so desirous, Master’s and doctoral programmes can be undertaken in many foreign universities. The training is both theoretical and practical. It covers areas such as normal development of speech, language and hearing, diagnosis of their disorders and treatment procedures. Inputs are also given from fields as diverse as Linguistics, Psychology, Electronics, Human Anatomy, physiology, Neurology and Statistics.
Scope - Consider these statistics, estimates of communication disorders in the general population varies between 3 to 10%. In most populous countries these translate to huge numbers of people in need of the services of a SLPA. Not only in the developing countries but even in advanced countries like U.S, Australia, England etc, there is a growing demand for SLPAs.
A good number of locations abroad offer a Masters program in relevance to the academic background you have had. Australia, Malaysia, United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand, Canada etc. are few names that you can consider. However, US leads when it comes to the options offered in terms of the number of universities one can consider.
We can suffice with the specific details provided you narrow down your list on the interested locations for higher education.
However, as of now you may go through the following to gain an insight of the curriculum you can expect :
Our first Sri Lankan student Dakshika Bandaranayake from Mahamaya Girl’s College Kandy, passed out from Bangalore University in 2000 and has now secured a placement in U.S.A, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and she is now earning a 6 figure salary.
Savithra Panagoda from Colombo passed out from Bangalore University & now lives & works in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Avinash, 22, passed out of a prestigious Speech and Hearing institute in Bangalore in 2004 with a masters degree and has secured placement With a U.S based employment agency which has placed him in the school services.
Vijitha, 23, with a masters’ degree in speech pathology is employed by the smile Train project that treats children with cleft palate and other facial deformities and is responsible for implementing speech rehab services to 4 districts of her state.
Nitin, 25, was employed by a hearing aid company soon after his bachelor’s course and after 3 years of work is now drawing a 5 figure salary.
Aarthi, 25, teaches her favourite subjects of voice and neurogenic communication disorders at her alma mater. She is pursuing her doctoral degree and hopes to be elevated to an assistant professorship in the near future.
Rama, 23, works in a pre school for children with autism and finds great satisfaction that her dissertation work with autistic children is now being put to use.
Ashutosh 35, is employed by a public sector company as an industrial audiologist and has under his care the hearing and communication health of nearly 2000 employees and their families.
There are many more such success stories. This is one career that is financially rewarding and highly reputed, and still unexplored. So welcome aboard and have a wonderful future.
The burning question is ….. Are you ready? Similar initiatives are cropping up all over the globe.
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