I had never heard of Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) before talking to individuals within the profession. I contacted my local paediatric speech therapy service, and this opened the opportunity to spend a few days shadowing different therapists in their roles. I was able to observe a stammering clinic, a language unit on a mainstream school, an early year’s clinic and SLTs in a special school. I fell in love with what I saw and the elements of challenge and reward that every day could bring. After researching and speaking to those qualified SLTs, suddenly SLT presented itself as a real option to me. It was exciting and scary all at the same time.
I always imagined myself working within a healthcare setting, in a career in which I could make a difference and specialise in a complex area.
SLTs often work with multidisciplinary teams and liaise with family, carers and teachers. They are in a fortunate position to work with both children and adults right through from birth to end of life care. We also interact with very diverse client groups which includes but is not exclusive to; learning disabilities, hearing loss/deafness, psychotic and neurological disorders and acquired brain injury (ABI). We help a range of conditions such as; language delay, cleft palate, stammering, voice disorders, aphasia and difficulties with swallowing, eating or drinking.
All of the above attracted me to the profession as every client has different needs and abilities and this requires you to adapt your approach to each person. Every day can be different and this is a job in which one can blend academic knowledge with creativity to meet new challenges.
Talking the talk
I completed a relevant access course and was invited to interview for the three year BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy course at Marjon. I was instantaneously met with smiling faces from both current students and teaching staff which put my mind at ease. I found myself in a room full of individuals who had similar outlooks and values as me and left with a real sense of belonging.
Marjon’s small, community feel inevitably appealed to me as an introvert. It felt like a home from home. Set in the heart of Plymouth and situated between Devon and Cornwall, it is adorned by fictitiously beautiful coastlines and greenspaces. Adventure truly is never far away. The university takes pride in having a student-centred support network which ranges from student union, employment opportunities within the university, societies, campaigns and student representatives. Putting students at the heart of everything really appealed to me because I think it is important to raise concerns in order to create a better space for all to enjoy.
I love the wide range of assessment types that Marjon offer for their SLT course. I have never been one to perform well in traditional exams so knowing that I will be assessed in other ways as well is reassuring to me. I also noticed that the teaching staff on the course were professionals who have impressive lists of publications, past and present. Knowing my lecturers are actively involved in research and was enticing to me as a student SLT.
Walking the walk
Before I knew it, September 2018 arrived. We all nervously shuffled behind one another as we wondered what we had signed ourselves up for! Days turned into weeks, weeks to months and months to semesters. A personal highlight thus far is being surrounded by like-minded, kind and empathic individuals. To be a part of a passionate and driven SLT group of peers and tutors is really is something that should be celebrated. There is always so much energy and a real sense of fun and excitement that follows us around.
Here at Marjon, I am lucky enough to be in my second placement and can already see my skills making a difference to my clients. To be told by a client that they look forward to seeing you is heart-warming but also reaffirmed to me that this career will be full of those moments when all you want to say back is “you are so welcome”.
Speech therapy brings together a wide range of disciplines, skills and knowledge such as; psychology, phonetics and phonology, linguistics, professional skills and biomedical science. After studying English Language at A Level, I have a particular interest in our linguistics module. Sometimes I wonder how I ever learned the English language even as a monolinguist. It is so diverse and intricate at every level it really is no wonder you get side-tracked when writing assignments!
Amber McGrathAmber McGrath
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