More than words can say

More than words can say

Are you some one who longs to make a difference in people’s lives? Are you good at communication skills? Do you enjoy working with people? Are you analytical and patient?

If your answer to most of these questions is yes, you might just make a very good speech pathologist and audiologist.

But who is a Speech Pathologist and Audiologist (SLPA) and what does he/she do? SLPAs are persons who are trained to deal with all aspects of disordered communication. They diagnose and provide rehabilitation services to both adults and children with speech, language and hearing problems. A child who stutters or has a cleft lip/palate, an elderly person who has lost speech after a stroke, people with voice problems, or an infant whose parents suspect its hearing are some of the people that an SLA routinely sees.
There is also likely to be an increasing demand for their services in the corporate world  where people are looking to improve their communication skills.

A SLPA can work in hospitals, private practice schools, academic institutions, industries, NGOs, hearing aid/ cochlear implant companies or even have a private practice. But before you envisage yourself working in any of these settings, you must be aware of the required training.

Training

The training programmes consist of a three-year graduate course followed by a year of internship. Most institutes follow a semester system. The post graduate programme is of two-year duration and usually leads to a specialisation in either Audiology or Speech Language Pathology.

Although one can start working after BSc, career prospects are brighter for those with MSc. Entry into the course is after 12th standard or equivalent. It is necessary to have studied science subjects in the qualifying exam. Some institutes conduct an entrance exam for the bachelor’s programme itself.

Admission to MSc programmes is usually through a written exam and the eligibility for that is a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing. There are also facilities for pursuing PhD in the field. Students can also pursue master’s and doctoral programmes in universities abroad. The training is both theoretical and practical. It covers areas such as normal development of speech, language and hearing, diagnosis of their disorders and treatment procedures. Inputs are also given from diverse but related fields like linguistics, psychology, electronics, human anatomy, physiology, neurology and statistics. Recognition of the training institute by rehabilitation council of India is mandatory.

Scope

Estimates of communication disorders in the general population varies between 3 to 10%. Not only in the developing countries but even in advanced countries like US, Australia, England, etc, there is a growing demand for SLPAs.

Case studies

Dr Narasimhan, 26, works at department of SLPA in a prestigious neurological and psychiatric hospital where his team works in coordination with doctors, psychologists and other allied specialists to deliver services to those with neurological/ psychological communication disorders. His role model and the head of his department has been with the hospital for the past 30 years and has the satisfaction of helping thousands of patients from all walks of life.

Avinash, 22, passed out of a prestigious speech and hearing institute in Bangalore in 2006 with a masters degree and has secured placement in a school through a US-based employment agency.

Vineetha, 23, with a masters’ degree in speech pathology is employed by the Smile Train project and is responsible for implementing speech rehab services to those with cleft lip and palate in four districts of her state.

Aarthi, 25, teaches her favourite subjects of voice and neurogenic communication disorders at her alma mater. She is pursuing her doctoral degree and hopes to be elevated to an assistant professorship in the near future.
Ashutosh 35, is employed by a public sector company as an industrial audiologist and has under his care the hearing and communication health of nearly 2000 employees and their families.

There are many more such success stories but suffice to say this is one career that is fulfiling, financially rewarding and still unexplored. So welcome aboard and have a wonderful future.

Training institutes in Karnataka

* All India Institute of Speech and Hearing Manasagangotri, Mysore 6.    Ph 2514449.
* Dr. S.R.C. Institute of Speech and Hearing, Lingarajapuram, Bangalore 84. Ph 25470037.
* Samvad institute of Speech and Hearing. Bangalore. Ph 9845018302
* J.S.S. Mahavidyapeetha,  Ramanuja Road, Mysore - 570 044. Ph 0821-2563845/ 2520092.
* Dr. M.V. Shetty Institute of Speech and Hearing. Hampanakatta,
Mangalore 575001.
Ph 0824 – 2421953/ 2427654
* Department of Allied Sciences,
Kasturba Medical College,
Manipal 576119.
Ph 0820- 2571201, 2570061

www.rehabcouncil.nic.in/home.html

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