Speech Language Pathologist

Anna, 28, is a speech-language pathologist currently working for a large community hospital in Mississauga. She works in the Neuro-rehab Unit as well as in acute care. She has her BA in linguistics from Glendon College, York University (1997), a master's degree in linguistics from the University of Ottawa (1999) and an MHSc in speech-language pathology from University of Toronto (2001).

Stephanie: What made you decide to become a speech-language pathologist? How did you become a speech-language pathologist?
I have a passion for language. I found grammar and all its rules simply fascinating. I did my undergraduate degree in linguistics, then I did a master's in linguistics. I realized a few months into my graduate degree that a master's in linguistics was only leading me into the research world. I wanted to find something where I could use my skills but at the same time remain passionate about what I did and where I would have some professional freedom. I finished my master's in linguistics, at the same time taking several prerequisite courses for a master's in speech-language pathology. It was the right choice for me!

Stephanie: What do you like about your job?
I enjoy the human contact that this job provides. I work in a hospital setting where I am often faced with families in grief over a family member who has had a stroke or brain injury. I love showing the patients and their families what the patients can -- as opposed to can't - do. I take great joy in seeing how they are progressing; I like feeling like I am making a difference in their lives.

Stephanie: What is your least favourite part of the job?
I feel powerless when administration and protocols dictate patient treatment. This often means discharging a patient before his needs are met. I feel that this reflects poorly on our healthcare and the individual therapists. A patient may leave our facility thinking that the speech pathologist did not help him or wrote him off, when the reality is quite different.

Stephanie: What advice do you have for someone considering becoming a speech-language pathologist?
Research university programs early on. There are many pre-requisites that not all undergraduate facilities offer. Get lots of volunteer hours from a speech-language pathologist and do everything in your power to keep an "A" average at the undergraduate level, especially in the pre-requisite courses. It's tough to get in, but once you're in, it's well worth it!

Stephanie: What kind of an education do you need to be a speech-language pathologist? What kind of education did you get?
You need a bachelor degree in a related field, usually linguistics, psychology or physiology, although people come to the field from various backgrounds. Everyone will need to have completed prerequisites for the program which generally come from the above areas. Then you need to complete a master's degree in speech-language pathology (two to three years).
I have a BA in linguistics (four years), an MA in linguistics (two years) and a master of health science in speech-language pathology (two years).

Stephanie: What is your favourite word or phrase?
'Quite frankly.'

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