Career in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology

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Speech Language Pathology and Audiology Career Courses

Oxford dictionary defines ‘Career’ as ‘a person’s course or progress through life ( or a distinct portion of life )’. It is usually considered to pertain to remunerative work (and sometimes also formal education). If we look into the field of Speech – Language Pathology or Audiology as a Career, we can easily say that it definitely fits into the parameter / explanation laid by the Oxford dictionary. It not only provides an opportunity to a person to progress academically, but, also fulfils the criteria of providing remunerative satisfaction to a larger extent.

If one likes working with people, putting his / her knowledge to use and seeking answers to his / her questions, one will find a career in speech language pathology or audiology to be stimulating, challenging and rewarding.

The professions of Speech – Language Pathology and Audiology have developed more recently than many human services professions. It is an interesting field that has grown rapidly in the past four decades in our country. It is an area of study, which has made its potential felt by every passing day on account of rehabilitating hundreds of thousands of Hearing / Speech impaired.

Speech – Language Pathology Fields

Speech – Language Pathology is the study of disorders of Speech and Language. The field was referred to as ‘Speech and Hearing’ in earlier literature. Speech – Language Pathologists, sometimes also called Speech Therapists, Assess, Diagnose, Treat and help to prevent speech, Language, Cognitive, Communication, Voice, Swallowing, Fluency, and other related disorders. They provide a range of services including Prevention, Identification, Evaluation, Diagnosis, Treatment, Teaching, Counselling and Consultation. They also engage themselves in basic and applied research activities related to human communication and its disorders. They help individuals to prevent and overcome communication problems in Language, Speech, Voice, and Fluency.

They work with people who cannot make Speech Sounds, or cannot make them clearly,  those with speech rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering, people with voice quality problems, such as inappropriate pitch or harsh voice; those with problems of understanding and producing language, those who wish to improve their communication skills by modifying an accent, those with cognitive communication impairments, such as attention, memory, and problem solving disorders and those with hearing loss who use hearing aids or cochlear implants in order to develop auditory skills and improve communication. They also work with people who have swallowing difficulties.

Audiology Fields

Audiology is the study of hearing and its problems. An Audiologist measures a person’s hearing, diagnoses hearing loss and prescribes a suitable hearing aid whenever necessary. He / She may also be involved in auditory rehabilitation of hearing impaired children and adults. Hearing Screening, Noise measurement may also be part of an Audiologist’s job requirement. Audiologists assess the extent of hearing loss, balance and related disorders and recommend appropriate treatment. These services are provided to people who are deaf or hard of hearing and persons at risk of hearing loss due to noise exposure, genetic causes or middle ear infections.

Audiologists also work with children and adults who need aural rehabilitation, such as auditory training and speech reading, and educate parents and professionals on the prevention of hearing loss. They provide information and training on all aspects of hearing and balance to other professions including Psychology, Counseling, Rehabilitation and Education.

The Speech Pathologist and Audiologist diagnoses and treats both adults and children. They may or may not work together, but their works remain interdependent. So, at the beginning level, these trainees are trained for both the skills. After getting the core training in their Bachelor’s course, they may specialize in either of the fields during their Master’s program.

Speech and language difficulties can result from a variety of causes including stroke, brain injury or deterioration, developmental delays, cerebral palsy, cleft palate, voice pathology, mental retardation, hearing impairment or emotional problems. Problems can be congenital, developmental or acquired. Speech – language pathologists use written and oral tests, as well as special instruments, to diagnose the nature and extent of impairment and to record and analyze speech, language, and swallowing irregularities. They develop an individualized plan of care, tailored to each patient’s needs. For individuals with little or no speech capability, these professionals may select augmentative or alternative communication methods, including automated devices and sign language and teach their use. They teach these individuals how to make sounds, improve their voices or increase their language skills to communicate more effectively.

Speech – Language pathologists help patients develop or recover, reliable communication skills so that the patients can fulfill their Educational, vocational and Social roles.

Speech Pathology Audiology Job Opportunities

There are ample opportunities of getting a good job for a speech – language pathologist or an audiologist. They can look for it in educational services, including pre – schools, elementary and secondary schools, and colleges and universities. Others can be absorbed in different hospitals, offices of other health practitioners, including speech – language pathologists, Nursing care facilities, Home healthcare services, individual and family services, outpatient care centers, child day care services, or other such facilities. They can also work with Hearing Aids manufacturing companies. They are highly paid. A few speech-language pathologists / audiologists can be self-employed in private practice. They can contract to provide services in schools, offices of physicians, hospitals, or nursing care facilities, or work as consultants to industry.

Most speech – language pathologists provide direct clinical services to individuals with communication or swallowing disorders. In speech and language clinics, they may independently develop and carry out treatment programs. In medical facilities, they may work with physicians, social workers, psychologists, and other therapists. In schools, they can develop individual or group programs, counsel parents, and may assist teachers with classroom activities. They also work with family members to recognize and change behaviour patterns that impede communication and treatment and show them communication – enhancing techniques to use at home. Some speech – language pathologists conduct research on how people communicate. Others design and develop equipment or techniques for diagnosing and treating speech problems.

Employment in educational services is increasing along with growth in elementary and secondary school enrollments, including enrollment of special education students. Greater awareness of the importance of early identification and diagnosis of speech, language and hearing disorders is increasing employment opportunities for these professionals.

The number of speech – language pathologists and audiologists in private practice is rising due to the increasing use of contract services by hospitals, schools, and nursing care facilities. In addition to job openings stemming from employment growth, a number of openings for speech – language pathologists and audiologists are arising from the need to replace those who leave the occupation.

Employment of speech – language pathologists and audiologists is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through coming years. Members of the baby boom generation are now entering middle age; hence the possibilities of neurological disorders and associated speech, language, swallowing and hearing impairments are increasing day by day. Medical advances are also improving the survival rate of pre – mature infants and trauma and stroke victims, who then need assessment and possible treatment. Many hospitals now require that all newborns be screened for hearing loss and receive appropriate early intervention services.

Pathology Audiology Jobs in following Sectors :

  • Hospitals
  • Public and private schools
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Community clinics
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Private practice offices
  • State and local health departments
  • Home health agencies ( home care )
  • Long – term care facilities
  • Adult day care centers
  • Centers for persons with developmental disabilities
  • Research laboratories such as Forensic laboratory

Speech – language Pathologists and Audiologists :

Many colleges and universities offer graduate and post graduate program in speech – language pathology not only in India, but also in other parts of the globe. Courses cover ENT, Anatomy and Physiology of the areas of the body involved in Speech, Language, Swallowing and Hearing, the development of normal Speech, Language, Swallowing and Hearing, the nature of Disorders, Acoustics and Electronics, Linguistics, and Psychological aspects of communication. The course also includes subjects like Community oriented professional practices in Speech – Language Pathology and Audiology and Basic statistics and research methods. Graduate students learn to evaluate and treat Speech, Language, Swallowing, and Hearing disorders and at the same time, they also receive supervised clinical training in communication disorders.

Science combination at the Intermediate / PUC level is an essential qualification to enter into the graduation course. Most institutes require a minimum of 50 per cent marks in aggregate. The duration of the course is four years for Bachelor’s Degree ( Three years for course work and one year for internship ). It comprises both theoretical and practical ( clinical ) orientation. After completion, they can pursue a Master’s Degree program in the same field or other associated field such as Linguistics or Clinical Psychology, from where they can give direction to their career to the field of Academics and Research. Others can open up their own clinics or join different Hospitals / Clinics and other rehabilitation units. They also become eligible to apply for various job / education in all over the world.

Institutions for Speech Pathology & Audiology Courses :

Some of the Indian institutes that offer this course ( recognized by the Rehabilitation Council of India ) :

  1. All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Manasagangothri, Mysore.
  2. Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Hearing Handicapped ( AYJNIHH ), Bandra Reclamation, Bandra West, Mumbai.
  3. AYJNIHH, NRC, Kasturba Niketan, Lajpat Nagar – II, New Delhi.
  4. AYJNIHH, SRC, Manovikas Nagar, Secunderabad.
  5. AYJNIHH, ERC, Kolkata.
  6. Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Sector – 12, Chandigarh.
  7. Department of Allied Sciences, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal and Mangalore.
  8. Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, Sri Ramachandra Medical College & Research Institute, 1, Ramachandra Nagar, Porur, Chennai.
  9. Nair Charitable Hospital, Dr. A.L. Nair Road, Mumbai.
  10. Dr SRC Institute of Speech and Hearing, Kariyana Palya, Lingarajapuram, Bangalore.
  11. JSS Medical College, Mysore.
  12. Dr MV Shetty Institute of Speech and Hearing, AB Shetty Circle, Hampana-katta, Mangalore. SWEEKAR, Hyderabad.
  13. NISH, Trivandrum.