May Healthcare Professionals Celebration - Celebrate Speech-Language Pathologists!

Kim Maryniak, PhD, RNC-NIC, NEA-BC

Speech-Language Pathologists

May 18th is National Speech Pathologist Day!

The field of speech pathology began to grown in interest in the early 1920’s, as soldiers with traumatic brain injuries returned from the war (SpeechEasy, 2019). By 1926, the American Academy of Speech Correction was created (SpeechEasy, 2019). Almost 100 years later, in 2016, there were 145,100 SLPs employed in the United States. This is projected to grow to 171,000 by the year 2026 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, n.d.). The top three practice settings of SLPs are schools, offices, and hospitals (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2018; Bureau of Labor Statistics, n.d.).

The minimum entry level degree into the profession is a masters degree. However, some states require postgraduate experience as well. Certifications for SLPs are also available, with similar requirements to state licensures (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019; Speech Pathology Graduate Programs, 2019).

SLPs study both aspects of speech, which includes verbal means of communication, and language, which includes the social aspects and understanding of communication. SLPs assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, communication, and swallowing disorders.

SLPs work with all patient populations; from neonates through to geriatrics. Speech and language disorders can be primary problems, or can be the result of other medical conditions. SLPs assist in the rehabilitation and care of patients experiencing a variety of disorders and disabilities, such as those associated with multiple sclerosis, stroke, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, autism, premature birth, and genetic disorders (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019; Speech Pathology Graduate Programs, 2019). Common duties and responsibilities of SLPs include:
  •   Evaluate levels of speech, language, or swallowing difficulty
  •   Identify treatment options
  •   Create and carry out an individualized treatment plan that addresses specific functional needs
  •   Teach children and adults how to make sounds and improve their voices and maintain fluency
  •   Help individuals improve vocabulary and sentence structure used in oral and written language
  •   Work with children and adults to develop and strengthen the muscles used to swallow
  •   Counsel individuals and families on how to cope with communication and swallowing disorders
(Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019)

Beginning in the 1920s, the role of the speech language pathologist emerged in response to soldiers with brain injuries returning from the war. Over the next 100 years speech language pathology has grown and developed into a profession that offers a wide range of services for patients of all ages. Be sure to acknowledge Speech Language Pathologist for the role they play in healthcare!

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2018). Supply and demand resource list for speech-language pathologists. Retrieved from https://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/Supply-Demand-SLP.pdf

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). Employment projections: Speech-language pathologists. Retrieved from https://data.bls.gov/projections/nationalMatrix?queryParams=29-1127-739&ioType=o

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019). Occupational outlook handbook: Speech-language pathologists. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/speech-language-pathologists.htm

Speech Pathology Graduate Programs. (2019). What is speech-language pathology? Retrieved from https://www.speechpathologygraduateprograms.org/what-is-speech-language-pathology/ © 2019 AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.