I graduated in August of 1997 with my master’s degree in communication disorders and was on my way to becoming a Speech Language Pathologist. So, on this the 21st anniversary of my degree I realize my career is old enough to drink.
Helping Other People: Anniversaries are a great time to reflect, to go back and look at why. Why speech pathology? I think my reasons that brought me to speech pathology are similar to others in our profession, I wanted to help people. I love the medical side of our profession working clinically to help people communicate as well as eat, chew and swallow has always been incredibly rewarding to me.
Following Your Passion: You rarely find someone who just “ends up” a speech therapist. There is usually someone in a young clinician’s life that directs him or her in that direction. They may have been in speech as a child or had an older relative that need speech in the hospital or SNF to improve function. Not everyone knows what type of population (either early intervention, school age, adults or geriatric) they want to work with when they get to school. It is one of the reasons why we are required to complete clinical practicums and work with real live people. I think this initial catalyst is what separates great speech therapists, from other professions. There is (or at least should be) a drive, a passion, towards the profession and those to whom we have promised to serve. A force that pushes us to care for our patients, clients or students as best we can. It pushes us to not settle for good enough when we know in our clinical hearts that there is more that we can do and more that they can do for themselves.
Life-Long Learning: For myself, I fell in love with speech during my first class, psycholinguistics. Psycholinguistics is the development of language or the interrelation between linguistic factors and psychological aspects. It was one of the most fascinating and well taught courses of my adult life. The instructor, Mark Ylvisaker, PhD. became my mentor throughout college and beyond. We learned about the brain, communication, morphology and syntax. It felt like, for the first time, it was OK to embrace my inner nerd. I will always remember that class fondly and Mark will always be in my heart.
I realized that I wanted to work in the medical setting when I had the opportunity to view my very first modified barium swallow test (MBS). This is a video x-ray (fluoroscopy) of a person while they are swallowing. It was my first real life experience of witnessing an actual person’s inside. It was fantastic!
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