The Bureau of Labor Statistics informs that speech-language pathology is one of the fastest-growing professions. Specifically, the employment outlook for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) is growing faster than the average for all occupations (21% over the next seven years), 63,100 job openings, 29,000 of these due to growth and 34,200 from replacement needs in all practice settings. Additionally, the employment outlook for all settings—hospital, outpatient rehab, schools, private practice, guidance centers, and home health—is positive. Telehealth SLP services is another fast-growing employment setting for speech-language pathologists. With telehealth, SLPs are using online technology to provide services to schools and healthcare facilities to meet the needs of patients many times across state lines. Rural areas benefit greatly from this service delivery as shortages of SLPs and services remain high.
Opportunities in Speech-Language Pathology
Speech-language pathologists may work in many different settings. Graduates may work full-time or part-time for healthcare agencies, school settings or in private practice. Students in an SLP program often focus on an initial area of interest in their academic programs, however many graduates find their areas and populations of interest may change overtime. For example, I have worked in almost all settings over my 20+ year career. I enjoyed each experience and learned a tremendous amount in every setting. I teach students that the field of SLP will be challenging and rewarding and their options of populations and settings will always allow them to be lifelong learners. There are also opportunities for leadership and management with an SLP degree. My background includes administration, supervision, education and training. Other SLPs may own private practices and learn additional business skills for their success.
Planning for USAHS Students
In planning the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) MS-SLP program a summit was held to determine the needs and design for an SLP program. With community and professional participation for needs identification, the decision to develop and offer an online speech-language pathology program was determined. Students in the USAHS MS-SLP program will complete their academic coursework online, experience residency weekends once per term on campus to learn clinical skills and participate in off campus externships for clinical experiences.
Online SLP programs, while offered are relatively new to the profession and offer students flexibility for learning. The USAHS planned Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology program is designed to provide academic and clinical experience with evidence-based practice for students. While the planned MS-SLP program, presents all academic coursework online, I stress that does not mean students teach themselves. Faculty with clinical experience and terminal degrees, will be there to help students gain the knowledge and skills they need. We are very aware of new graduates’ needs to be prepared to complete their Clinical Fellowship year and to seek licensure.
We have planned the MS-SLP program for students who have a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) or Speech-Language Pathology (SLP), however students with a bachelor’s degree in another field may also apply. Students who come to us with degrees other than CSD or SLP may take levelling (pre-requisite) courses in the sciences and discipline and apply. Leveling courses in the discipline provide foundational SLP learning that will be used in the master’s degree program.
Because of the persistent shortages of SLPs and the limited opportunities in graduate degree programs, I am excited that our program will offer prospective students not only an additional option for graduate school but also an online pathway for academics to a graduate SLP degree. With that, we can further address workplace shortages of SLPs and provide increased quantity and quality services to patients.
The planned clinical experiences component for the USAHS MS-SLP program is novel in design. The entire MS-SLP program is five trimesters, and each trimester will have a three-day clinical residency experience on campus. In the first trimester residency experience, students will learn and conduct speech-language, hearing screenings with participants and may complete assessment and treatment encounters. Clinical simulation opportunities are also planned for students during residency experience weekends. Beginning second trimester students will also experience externship placements for clinical experiences. For subsequent trimesters clinical residency and externship experiences will include working with pre-school and school-age children, specialty populations, and external placements in healthcare, private practice, or school settings. Knowledge learning in coursework will precede clinical experiences and students will apply what they have learned during online and residency experiences to externship assessment and treatment experiences.
Overall, we have planned a robust and rigorous MS-SLP program that will meet student’s academic and clinical training needs for employment in healthcare and school settings. We plan to prepare students to be highly marketable and extremely sought to staff healthcare and school settings. In essence, we are planning and preparing for MS-SLP students career success!
The Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences is pursuing candidacy status by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard, #310, Rockville, MD 20850, 800-498-2071 or 301-296-5700. USAHS is able to accept applications for this program but students will not be able to start classes until the school is in candidacy status.
The Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences is approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to offer on the Austin, Texas campus.
The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Please visit our Accreditation page for more information.