What to Expect
As a student in a speech-language pathologist assistant program, you'll
gain the scientific knowledge and the people skills to help others speak more
Janice Dawes began her day with an hour-long commute to her 8 a.m. classes.
She says the time factor was the single most difficult aspect of the entire
program. She spent four hours each day driving to school, work and clinicals.
"This is not a program for anyone who is not dedicated to the profession,"
Dawes warns. "There is absolutely no free time."
Dawes' program was five semesters long. This is necessary in order to complete
all the required coursework plus the mandatory 450 clinical hours.
The summer between the first and second year is spent gaining hands-on experience
"We [were] required to do 150 hours in each of three different clinical
sites," she says.
Dawes was surprised at the scope of practice of a SLPA. "This is not just
helping a child correct his production of 'r' or 's' -- an SLPA treats voice,
swallowing, speech and language disorders," she says.
Dawes usually spent her weekends studying for exams and catching up on
papers that were due. "I also [tried] to find time to surf through some of
the speech-language websites to see if there [was] anything new or interesting."
The first semester of Bryan Ashby's SLPA program was filled with tests
and assignments. "If you are not prepared, you will be in for a big surprise,"
How to Prepare
If you don't have a linguistics background, you might be in for
some difficulty, according to Ashby. "As well, you should have a great deal
of experience working with different populations."
People hoping to succeed in this field need a scientific background and
a strong desire to work with physically challenged people. Dawes advises prospective
students learn to take notes quickly, and "study, study, study!"