Case study

Paediatric speech and language therapist — Laura

Laura enjoys making a difference to the lives of children and their families. Find out how her career and caseload have developed along with her skills and knowledge

How did you get your job as a speech and language therapist?

After graduating with a BSc Speech and Language Therapy from Cardiff Metropolitan University, I attended an interview for a community paediatrics post within the NHS and was offered the job the same day.

What does a speech and language therapist do?

A typical day revolves around the assessment and treatment of children with varying speech, language and communication needs.

I'm based in different community clinics within the local area and see around seven children a day. I have paperwork to complete after each child I see and may need to phone teachers or other professionals.

I also do nursery and school visits in order to observe children in their natural communication environments and liaise with teachers and teaching assistants.

What do you enjoy about your job?

My job is extremely rewarding as I'm able to support children and their families in achieving their communication goals.

I have the opportunity to witness, and be part of, some life-changing moments and this makes me feel very proud.

I also enjoy being part of a big team of therapists, which allows me to constantly develop my knowledge and clinical skills.

What are the challenges?

The main challenge is time and trying to fit everything in. I work for the NHS and therefore we're constantly facing pressures such as reducing waiting list times, while at the same time managing a significant caseload.

It's also been challenging being a newly qualified therapist as it is very different from being a student on placement. It's a steep learning curve.

How relevant is your degree?

The degree is essential for becoming a qualified speech and language therapist and gaining the appropriate professional accreditation.

How has your role developed?

My caseload and responsibilities have increased significantly over the past 14 months. I now see a broader range of children with more complex issues and I am involved in improving the quality of the service at a higher level.

I'm also about to train as a placement educator, which will allow me to supervise students on placements.

The next step in my career development is to become a specialist speech and language therapist. I'm still unsure where my career will take me but there are a range of opportunities on offer.

What advice can you give to others?

Before applying for a degree course:

  • become a volunteer and increase your awareness of working with adults and children with communication needs (for example, with the Stroke Association or National Autistic Association);
  • try and volunteer with a speech and language therapist in order to see whether it's really for you;
  • gain as much experience as you can by working with a range of people in any role - this is definitely a 'people-person' job.

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