the path to speech-path

18 May

Throughout my life I’ve wanted to be the following:

1. An archaeologist

2. A geneticist

3. A biology teacher

4. A hairdresser

5. A fashion designer

6. A pathologist (yeah the kind that does autopsies – don’t ask)

I never really went through the whole “I want to be a fireman” or “I want to be a ballerina” stage. I’ve always been a little too practical for that. And up until my senior year of high school I, for the most part, planned on majoring in Biology and teaching high school.

I took Anatomy and Physiology my senior year and in my class we had to write major papers on ANYTHING related to the body (really? anything? YEAH ANYTHING). Since my brother had a submucuous cleft, I thought it’d be interesting to research cleft palate and lip.

And I was hooked.

But I didn’t know you could MAJOR in something to do with cleft palate and lip. What on earth would that major be? Speech therapy couldn’t just be a major all on it’s own. So I stayed a biology major and thought maybe I’d have to get a doctorate or maybe I’d specialize somehow.

Then I got to college and as it turns out – biology is super hard. And I wasn’t having any fun.

My biology adviser, recognizing my flailing and floundering as needing some guidance, took me aside and asked me what exactly I wanted to do.

“Well be a speech-therapist”

“Why the heck are you a biology major?”

“…what else would I be?”

Turns out his wife was an SLP and he hooked me up with the Communication Disorders department so that I could transfer before second semester. As luck would have it – speech therapy IS a major all on it’s own.

And so began a love-affair that I predict will last longer than most of my actual relationships.

When I told my mom that I wanted to be an SLP, she said it sounded frustrating (she still thinks that).

But overall this field has so many redeeming qualities that any frustrations are basically canceled out. I love this field because I get my science-y, health-care kicks while also fostering a side of me that loves teaching and guiding. I don’t have to give people shots (healthcare), I don’t have to grade homework (teaching), I don’t have to do a lot of math (science) – but I’m still involved in a field that helps people and makes a difference in someone’s life.

And I get to wear a lab coat.

I feel so incredibly lucky  that I’ve found this bizarre little niche of speech-language pathology and, I’m good at it (how often does THAT happen?). I encourage anyone who is even mildly interested to look into it. It might just be the bizarre little niche for you!

The end.


5 Responses to “the path to speech-path”

  1. Nikki October 19, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    I feel like I’m totally lurking your blog, but I just found it and I love it so much! Unfortunately I didn’t know about speech until I was 2 semesters away from my bachelor’s degree, so I am a 3 year student currently working on finishing my prerequisites. I’m super thankful that I got into a program.

    I loved this post because I can totally identify with why you think speech is so awesome in every way– it’s basically perfect for me! I’m glad your blog exists so that I can read up on all of your experiences 🙂


    • weathersby October 20, 2012 at 8:39 am #

      Ha! You’re allowed to lurk!

      Soooo many people end up doing leveling because they either didn’t know about SLP or their university didn’t have it, so you are not alone.

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying reading about my SLP adventures. Next week I’m going to try to post a list of all the student blogs so I’ll be sure to include you 🙂 Speech path is definitely perfect (though its funny, sometimes people at work will say “Oh God I’m so glad I’m a PT and not SLP” (or whatever) – who’dve thought others wouldn’t think we have the best job?!

  2. Nichole January 21, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    Hi! I’m in high school, getting ready to determine my career and apply to colleges. I’m very interested in Speech-Language Pathology. I’m quite squeamish so I cannot be a doctor, but I’m really interested in making a difference in people’s lives. Do you have any advice regarding Speech-Language Pathology? What types of patients do you work with? Pros and cons? What degree(s) would be most applicable to this career? Sorry to bombard you with questions, but I’m very interested in this career path and I don’t know any SLPs 🙂 My first choice university has an excellent speech pathology program with a clinic so I would be able to work with actual patients!

    • weathersby February 19, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

      Hi Nicole, I’m so sorry it took awhile for me to respond! I obviously LOVE Speech Path. I work mostly with children, though I do see some adults as well. There are some yucky parts, but most days I come out unscathed (I’m pretty squeamish myself – lots of quiet dry heaving. Don’t feel bad.)

      If you feel more “medical” then you could work as an SLP in a hospital setting – acute care, inpatient rehab – where you would likely see some gross stuff fairly regularly. You could also do outpatient rehab where you MAY see some gross stuff but probably not every day. In these settings you’d probably be doing lots of cognitive work with people who have brain injuries, stroke etc. You’d also likely be working on swallowing.

      If you feel more “school” you can work in a school – elementary, middle, high school – wherever! If you like tiny children you can work with 3-5 year olds, or be like me and work with 0-3. I work in a center where I also get to do outpatient rehab with adults with acquired and developmental disabilities so I’m kind of a jack of all trades in that regard. You could also do private practice, telepractice, become a professor – who knows! There’s tons of options

      If you’re not sure, then it’s a good thing your university of course has a clinic! You’ll really discover your passions during interning more so than in observation.

      Since your university has a clinic then I suspect they have a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders. You could also go linguistics but you’d likely have to “level” – I wrote a post about picking an undergrad:

      Feel free to shoot me an email. The scope of SLP is HUMUNGOUS you could do anything with a Masters in speech path so don’t feel bad about having questions. I’m still confused!

      • Nichole October 7, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

        Thank you so much for the information! It really helped a lot. Career week at my high school is coming up so it was perfect timing. I am very positive that speech-language pathology is what I want to do with my life, and your post just made me even more sure. I’m leaning towards going to the University of Akron because it’s close enough to home that I can visit my friends and family on the weekend and my dad owns a few rental properties there. I will be taking a look at your undergrad list though! Thanks again so much for all the help 🙂

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