Speech language pathologists focus on evaluating and diagnosing patients that have issues relating to cognition, communication disorders, voice disorders, swallowing issues and much more. After the process of diagnosis has taken place, a care plan is developed. This plan lays out the steps for moving forward to assist with the issues that are present and help a person function better in their day to day life. Speech language pathology students may wonder what opportunities are available to gain additional experience outside of the classroom before you graduating and entering the working world. This is one field of work in which hands on experience is highly beneficial and there are many volunteer opportunities available to students. Here are a few of the options.
Students enrolled in a degree program at a university may be eligible to help as an office assistant in on-campus or near campus clinics. On-campus positions may even provide some tuition assistance while gaining daily experience in the field of speech language pathology. Office assistants may be tasked with mundane activities, like making copies or answering phones, but might also get the opportunity to job shadow a professional. Reachforthespeech.com provides some helpful tips for job shadowing a Speech Language Pathologist. Either way, the exposure to patients and the workings of the office will provide valuable experience towards a future career.
Unpaid internships are essentially volunteer opportunities because most of them do not pay a salary. Most colleges and universities have some type of assistance with securing internship positions, whether it be through an internship coordinator or the speech language pathology professors. Students can also venture out on their own to find internships in a number of different settings like a hospital, an elementary school, a college or a rehabilitation center. These settings allow students to work with all kinds of patients to see how they might want to specialize their education.
There are a number of third world countries that don't have the speech assistance that we have here in the United States. Because of that, they very much welcome volunteer organizations that can help the people in their country. For example, there are parts of the world where doctors do pro bono work to fix cleft palettes. Speech pathologists can then work with those patients to provide additional therapy after their surgery.
There are a number of different opportunities for volunteer work within the speech language pathology field. Volunteering as a student provides experience that will help define the direction of coursework and career selection. These opportunities will also provide invaluable connections within the field of speech language pathology. Students looking for experience should consider the many and varied volunteer opportunities available.