A speech therapist is a specialist who works to diagnose and treat many different speech, language, and voice disorders. The therapist will evaluate speech and language test results, hearing ability, and medical background to diagnose the issue and then plan, develop, implement, and monitor the appropriate treatment for problems like stuttering, delayed speech skills in children, swallowing disorders and voice problems. A speech therapist keeps records of the initial tests and evaluations, treatment, patient progress, and eventual discharge upon completion of the planned treatment. Quite often, treatment involves teaching patients communication techniques and speech, muscle, and breathing exercises to practice at home during and after treatment. The job is not physically demanding but can be mentally and emotionally taxing, as progress can be slow and the therapy is not an easy process. A speech therapist needs to be attentive to detail and must have the ability to focus in order to properly diagnose the issue and assess the need for any other medical intervention. Speech disorders are usually related to other conditions, so speech therapists must be able to work as a team that includes other healthcare professionals. The therapist must be able to comprehend and empathize with patients and their families. A master's degree in speech pathology is required for the job, as well as supervised clinical experience and an acceptable passing grade on a national examination. At least nine months of post-degree professional experience is needed, as well. The ability to properly diagnose patients and plan out the correct treatments only come with the years of experience end education required for the job.
Speech Therapist Tasks
- Administer hearing, speech and language evaluations, tests and examinations to patients.
- Evaluate hearing, speech and language test results, medical background to diagnose and plan treatment for speech, language, fluency, voice and swallowing disorders.
- Develop, implement and monitor treatment plans for problems such as stuttering, delayed language, swallowing disorders and or voice problems, adjust treatments accordingly.
- Document the initial evaluation, treatment, progress and discharge of patients.
- Instruct patients in communication techniques and teach speech, muscle and breathing exercises.