October 7, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
University of North Texas
New York University
Our Lady of the Lake University
Northern Michigan University
California State University, Fullerton
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions
University of Nebraska Kearney
University of Wisconsin – Madison
University of North Texas
Department of Audiology and Speech Language Pathology
Stacy Nunnelee: For audiologists and speech-language pathologists, the first essential skill is the level of education. An employer is going to confirm the education and certification that our major students have first and foremost.
Stacy Nunnelee: As far as soft skills, our students need to enjoy working with people and need to enjoy being around people a lot. They will also need to have compassion and empathy for people with a variety of disorders and be comfortable if someone has trouble communicating.
Stacy Nunnelee: Starting salaries don't vary, except from state to state and from different types of facilities (education, medical, etc.). But demonstrating good patient outcomes, being a good leader, and/or having good research and/or community outreach can be an asset to move up.
New York University
Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders
María Rosa Brea Ph.D.: Examples of advocacy for self and/or others within their own heritage or out of school experiences, insider's perspective with regard equity or inequity within dis/ability, multilingualism, racial, gender and other intersections OR understanding of own positionalities with regard to ableism and linguistic justice.
María Rosa Brea Ph.D.: Most clinical supervisors would say that openness to feedback and critical thinking are desirable soft skills. In the context of classrooms, and depending on how the students are taught, metacognitive awareness, learning flexibility, reflexivity, and criticality are all general foundational skills.
María Rosa Brea Ph.D.: In the field of SLP, writing and speaking, specifically academic (and 'standardized') English, is what is most important. (and within this, the expectation is that writing is academic, vocabulary is diverse, and that there is a deep bridging of content -to-practice)
María Rosa Brea Ph.D.: It seems like the typical skills that people look for - productivity, fast turnaround and timeliness, academic language use (or 'professionalism') ... I feel like all of this is highly dependent on opportunities and the ability to have either sponsors or faculty who are culturally and linguistically responsive who know how to mentor.
Communication Sciences and Disorders, College of Education and Health Sciences
Jason Rosas: Speech-language pathologists should highlight the telecommunications platforms they know, i.e., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. If working with school-aged clients, they should also highlight familiarity with web services such as Google Classroom, Moodle, Canvas, etc.
Jason Rosas: All SLPs are competent communicators, and they will need this skill to negotiate remote scheduling and teaching parents/caregivers how to set up equipment for telepractice. It's important that SLPs practice patience and flexibility. Explaining procedures, training caregivers, and problem-solving difficulties that arise takes time. In addition, SLPs may need to deviate from routines and schedules, which requires significant flexibility.
Jason Rosas: SLPs must become competent in the components of their telecommunications equipment to ensure the most secure, stable, and fastest connections. Often SLPs are working with caregivers or parents who are not accustomed to problem-solving connections problems and why they may occur. Therefore, learning not only their own equipment but that of their clients becomes an additional technical skill. Lastly, therapy requires many trials to see optimal results. So planning engaging audio-visual activities for multiple clients with varied communication disabilities is very important.
Jason Rosas: Everyone expects the quality of service to be maintained regardless of the service delivery method used. SLPs who demonstrate that they are effective and engaging via telepractice, as demonstrated in client goal outcomes, will see their stock rise!
Michelle Veyvoda Ph.D.: I think it's possible we'll see people from other professions - professions that have been greatly impacted by the pandemic - consider a career change. I could see people in other human-centered, interactive careers, such as the arts, considering a switch to speech pathology because it allows for creativity and connection and offers a stable career. I would also imagine that there will be an increase in telepractices. Just like we've seen many telehealth businesses start in the medical field over the past year, the same will likely happen in speech. The idea of telepractice hasn't always been popular, but families and clinicians are seeing that it offers greater access to and convenience for therapy sessions.
Michelle Veyvoda Ph.D.: It is not advised that a graduate from a master's program take a gap year, since they need a year of clinical work (called the Clinical Fellowship Year or CFY) in order to become certified. It is more common for college graduates to take a gap year between graduation and beginning graduate study. The best thing a graduate could do in a gap year would be to work in a relevant field. This includes working as a teaching assistant or SLP-assistant in a school or hospital, interning at a clinic/school/hospital, getting some research experience, or even providing day care for children with disabilities. Anything you do to gain experience working with other people while learning about healthcare or education will enhance your resume and preparedness for graduate study.
Michelle Veyvoda Ph.D.: A graduate might want to consider what specialty, if any, they are interested in pursuing. They should secure a CFY position based on that interest so they can begin getting experience in it as soon as possible. But it is equally important to keep your mind open to all the opportunities that exist in speech pathology. Many graduates enter their professional life planning to work with one population (children, for example) and end up falling in love with a different population, such as geriatrics. Graduate school is essential for developing the necessary knowledge and skills, but the true experiences that mold someone's clinical practice happen from direct contact with clients. So get as much experience as possible.
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Nicole Billak: Young graduates will need to have strong written and verbal communication skills. After all, communication is what we are teaching to others. To do that effectively, we need to be strong communicators ourselves. Graduates will also need to have strong problem-solving and critical thinking skills. When the pandemic hit, speech language pathologists were forced to rapidly develop various ways to provide services to clients, demanding problem-solving skills. Diagnostics in speech language pathology will require critical thinking to ensure all client needs are being appropriately met.
Nicole Billak: Pennsylvania provides a fantastic setting for speech language pathologists because of the variety of opportunities available in this field. As a state with a multitude of early intervention services and geriatric care, career opportunities are available working with clients in all stages of life.
Nicole Billak: Technology has been essential to the continuation of most professions since COVID-19, and I predict this trend will continue. Technology offers flexibility in our service delivery and allows our clients the opportunity to continue receiving the care they need while staying safe. I believe that we have only scratched the surface with how technology can expand our field and am excited to see where technology can take us.
Our Lady of the Lake University
Woolfolk School of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Patti Solomon-Rice Ph.D.: I suspect the primary impact of the coronavirus on current and future graduates will be increased use of telepractice as a service delivery method for a subset of appropriate clients and patients. Prior to the pandemic, telepractice was typically utilized to provide services for students/clients/patients who lived in remote areas where very few speech-language pathologists practiced, or who had communication disorders that benefitted from specialized expertise not commonly demonstrated by practicing speech-language pathologists.
It was also utilized in school settings where there was a shortage of SLPs. As a result of the pandemic, telepractice as a type of service delivery has now been used widely by speech-language pathologists and more widely accepted by clients and patients. I suspect telepractice will now become a more common practice when working with adults who have physical limitations that make it difficult to leave their house, such as adults who are recovering from strokes or demonstrating degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease.
I also suspect telepractice will also become more common for speech-language pathologists in private practice settings working with older children and teens demonstrating articulation, stuttering, voice and language challenges. Telepractice could also become a more common practice for private practitioners working with adult clients in the area of accent reduction.
Patti Solomon-Rice Ph.D.: The skills that young graduates need when entering the workforce in the coming years will not dramatically change from the skills that are currently important. Speech-language pathologists need to be empathetic, good listeners, positive, flexible and enthusiastic. We need to be analytic problem solvers and excellent observers. We need to understand information at a complex level but be able to explain that information and provide examples at the appropriate level for our students/clients/patients/family members, which will vary from person to person. We need to have excellent people skills, allowing us to interact comfortably with many different types of individuals and quickly put them at ease. Speech-language pathologists need to be both intelligent and have strong writing skills.
Young graduates will increasingly need to be adept and comfortable with technology in general and with assistive technology for augmentative and alternative communication more specifically. Both currently and in the coming years, speech-language pathologists need to continually develop their cultural humility and ability to demonstrate culturally responsive practices when working with students/clients/patients. Speech-language pathologists also need to be life-long learners and enjoy learning to use new assessment tools, new therapy approaches and new ways of implementing therapy, as our profession is constantly changing and growing.
Patti Solomon-Rice Ph.D.: To really stand out, students entering the workforce need to demonstrate experiences beyond completing required academic coursework and clinical practicum in pediatric and adult externships settings. To stand out, they should strive to complete externships at well-known and respected settings within their community. They should complete a Master's thesis and work closely with an academic faculty member to complete research as a graduate assistant and present that research at a state association convention. They should complete elective certificate programs offered through their graduate program. They should demonstrate a desire to go above and beyond the requirements of the program. Lastly, they should demonstrate professional volunteerism and volunteer at their local and state associations, as well as volunteer for ASHA's National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Speech-language pathologists who are changing employment settings will stand out through promotions at their current employment settings which provide opportunities for leadership growth. They should demonstrate increasing responsibilities at each of their subsequent employment settings. They should also demonstrate professional volunteerism, as well as increasing leadership positions within their local, state and national associations.
Northern Michigan University
Speech, Language, Hearing Sciences Program
Lori Nelson SLP.D: Due to the pandemic, a major change for many speech-language pathologists is the need to conduct sessions via telepractice. A clinician will need to be flexible in terms of being able to coordinate and conduct sessions via distance methods based on pandemic factors. Telepractice will continue to be used in many settings once the pandemic is over. Employment opportunities should be plentiful in medical settings with our aging population, however, school districts in particular may be in special need of speech-language pathologists in the upcoming years.
Lori Nelson SLP.D: If a student takes time off between their bachelor's and graduate programs, a recommendation of mine would be to use that time to gain experiences interacting with a wide variety of people. Experience with varied ages, from very young children to the elderly, can be beneficial for their future career.
In addition, work and volunteer experience with all types of personalities can prepare a student for this career and help to determine if being in a helping profession is the right fit. Experience with those who have disabilities, of any kind, can be especially advantageous. A wide variety of job and service activities may provide these experiences. They can include helping in a foster care home, working as a nursing aide in long term care or assisted living, being a substitute teacher or paraprofessional in a school system, conducting child care, or serving as a camp counselor.
Lori Nelson SLP.D: Be open to all new opportunities for learning and growth because there is still so much to know after you've earned the degree. Utilize information learned in school but also enjoy sharing your knowledge with co-workers and learning from them. Rejoice in the paycheck! Give yourself and your family the gift of financial literacy by learning how to effectively handle your new budget and to make wise decisions about benefits (retirement plans, disability insurance, etc). Pat yourself on the back for all you've
achieved and take pleasure in using that information to build an interesting career and a productive life.
Pamela Smith Ph.D.: I think there will be a lot of variability in in-person employment - both regional and by setting - depending on the continued impact of the pandemic, effects of the vaccine, and return of economic factors that affect employment. MUCH of this is unpredictable. In our field we have seen some work settings be very overwhelmed - like acute care - but in other settings there has been less demand (such as SNF) simply due to fewer patients being admitted. That doesn't mean that the pandemic hasn't overwhelmed these settings - it has - but they have had fewer patients admitted overall and thus fewer who need speech/language/dysphagia services. I do believe that the post-COVID patient will have rehabilitation needs that we can't necessarily predict yet. We know that there are lasting cognitive-communication effects in many patients, even very mild COVID-19 cases.
In schools, we have had a large number of people retire who were perhaps planning to stay on a few years longer, and the pandemic was a good reason to take advantage of retirement. As those schools replace those personnel, there should be continued opportunities in educational settings. The models that schools have used to remain in operation are different across the board and so it's reasonable to assume their hiring patterns would differ.
As far as modalities - much will depend on what insurance can cover. Telepractice has been widely adopted in many settings, but until it is reimbursed in the same fashion as in-person treatment, across the board, there will be patients who may not receive services until the pandemic is fully "behind us," if it ever really is. We've seen benefits of telepractice in terms of access for patients not only distanced from the pandemic from geographic distance and weather issues. If there is a silver lining of the pandemic, it's realizing the potential that telepractice has to help many patients whose access to typical in-person care is blocked or disrupted for a host of reasons.
Pamela Smith Ph.D.: Flexibility, adaptability. The ability to get the job done despite the challenges that telepractice has brought to much of our work. Work ethic, positive attitude, eagerness to learn new skills and generalize them across settings. The ability to achieve good outcomes in health care and maintain enthusiasm despite the ongoing fallout from the pandemic. Professional involvement, knowledge of and interest in regulations and how they affect practice is a plus. Candidates can gain professional connections by maintaining good working relationships with supervisors, through involvement in their state associations, ongoing positive networking.
Pamela Smith Ph.D.: For some time now in our field there has been an ebb and flow, some regional and some by setting. Acute care has always been difficult for new graduates to obtain employment, and the pandemic has required the SLP to not only "hit the ground running," but to accomplish the job responsibilities in full PPE. So any candidate needs to be able to convey to an employer that they have the knowledge, skills and interpersonal ability to accomplish this. Schools are likely to prefer candidates who have experience with telepractice, with groups using telepractice and who can demonstrate flexibility as school scheduling and in-person attendance have fluctuated.
I have always felt that in our field, personal connections were the most important. NEVER burn a bridge. Always do all you can to maintain good professional relationships because so often, and more so in these cases, having that personal connection helps you get the interview, wherever it is. Candidates need to be willing to relocate if necessary and that is not a new concept. A lot of networking and professional development is now occurring online, and there is a great social media presence in the profession. If social media is used, it should always be remembered that any potential person who reads anything posted could be someone who might interview you.
Dr. HyeKyeung Seung Ph.D.: Demand for utilizing technology in performing speech-language treatment and assessment.
I anticipate that some of the current experiences during the pandemic will continue to be used. For example, we may provide in-person therapy and teletherapy for some clients who have to drive a distance.
Dr. HyeKyeung Seung Ph.D.: Various types of clinical experiences in different clinical populations and different modalities of treatment and assessment (i.e., in-person and teletherapy).
If the graduates are bilingual speakers, it will put them stand out.
Dr. HyeKyeung Seung Ph.D.: We are in high demand nation-wide. Our graduates can get a job anywhere they would like to work in terms of location.
Dr. Phillip Sechtem Ph.D.: Because employers of a medical speech-language pathologist face ever-changing rules and regulations of practice and reimbursement, they must consider applicants' qualifications to ensure the highest quality of care that can be provided. With this, resumes must showcase a few key characteristics.
First, job-seeking clinicians' resumes must illustrate a solid foundation of knowledge and skills in the field with a propensity for life-long learning. The clinicians must have completed a well-rounded study that encapsulates disorders and conditions across the lifespan with some electives that fit personal and professional interests. For example, suppose a job-seeking clinician was interested in providing care in an ENT clinic. A graduate clinician may not be fully independent in serving patients with a voice prosthesis; however, they would continue cross-training early in employment.
Secondly, a resume should let employers know job-seeking clinicians can "hit the ground running." Thus, a job-seeking clinician applying for a career in a medical setting should be equipped with the abilities to conduct and interpret the necessary procedures and protocols. Suppose the ENT clinic specializes in voice and swallowing disorders. In that case, job-seeking clinicians' resumes should exemplify knowledge, skills, and experience in processes such as video stroboscopic examinations of the larynx and computerized acoustic voice analyses. As mentioned previously, job-seeking clinicians may not be independent in these types of procedures. Still, they would continue cross-training without the need to attend outside workshops, courses, or seminars. Thus, an entry-level clinician may be useful and productive from day one.
Thirdly, a resume of a job-seeking clinician should project a high degree of initiative and professionalism. While there are multiple methods to illustrate these attributes, one would be participation in interprofessional educational events. Another may be participation in university, programmatic, and student committees or organizations. A good example on a national level would be participation in the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NSSLHA). Additionally, professional references listed within or alongside the resume should reinforce all the critical characteristics mentioned and provide additional insights into initiative and professionalism characteristics that employers desire. It is essential to keep this in mind when completing placements and externships under various supervisors. Often these supervisors can speak about your professional capabilities.
Dr. Phillip Sechtem Ph.D.: Continued advances in equipment and instrumentation, coupled with increasing electronic networking capabilities, offer a wealth of clinical practice opportunities, patient care, and research. Instruments used to measure the functions of communication, voice and swallowing continues to evolve in terms of size, usability, and cost. As such, patient access will continue to grow with more frequent use across a more significant number of settings and situations. For example, instead of a patient going to a medical center or physician's office to complete a computerized acoustic voice analysis, a home health clinician may now use an app on a smartphone to capture and analyze pertinent data.
The same holds for imaging equipment needed to visualize the larynx and swallowing functions. In addition to miniaturizing the hardware to perform these evaluations, disposable endoscopes are coming online, enhancing accessibility. Telepractice will be occupying more of the clinical landscape in the future. Telepractice will increase the number of patients seen, including those in rural and underserved areas. Advances in technology will need to ensure that images and data captured virtually via Zoom or Google Meet are valid and reliable to ensure accuracy.
Dr. Phillip Sechtem Ph.D.: The coronavirus pandemic has required changes and adaptions to education and clinical services, primarily virtual classrooms and therapy sessions via Zoom or Google Meet. I believe a positive impact will be enhanced practice skills and service delivery of practitioners for persons in rural and underserved areas and where shortages of school SLPs exist. There will be other virtual reality and artificial intelligence technological advancements for education and clinical services. Lastly, the challenges of the pandemic will allow for more significant opportunities for continuing education and training. Programs of study may be enhanced, allowing for advanced degree opportunities.
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Andrea Novak MA, CCC-SLP: Speech-language pathologists are in high demand, and so I do not see this changing with the pandemic. Right now, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates, "The employment of speech-language pathologists is projected to grow 25% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations." Also, speech-language pathologists in medical-based settings may find their caseloads increased with patients diagnosed with Covid-19. The resulting therapy areas would focus on swallowing, cognitive, and communication deficits, especially related to hospital-based intubations and mechanical ventilation.
Andrea Novak MA, CCC-SLP: Graduates need to have enhanced professional and personal skills when they enter the workforce. Having the knowledge base and skills to work professionally are only one area of the profession. There is so much more than providing speech-language evaluations and treatment services. Graduates need to develop relationships with co-workers, patients/clients, and patient/client families. They need to multitask, stay organized, be adaptable, and confident when making clinical-based decisions.
Andrea Novak MA, CCC-SLP: What will stand out on one person's resume will be different based on the facility where one is interviewing. Graduates should highlight unique classes and experiences they have had in training programs. They should focus on training opportunities that will enhance their success at a place of employment. Finally, graduates should not be afraid to share their accomplishments. Let employers know what you have to offer to them and how hiring you can make a positive difference at their facility/company/school/etc.
University of Nebraska Kearney
Department of Communication Disorders
Whitney Schneider-Cline Ph.D.: Our graduates' experiences during the pandemic have taught them valuable lessons in flexibility and preparedness. They were required to adapt quickly to unforeseen circumstances - a common occurrence in the field of speech-language pathology. Graduates of our program, during the pandemic, learned that the most well-intentioned plans could fall apart. It is essential to shift to Plan B, C, and D; again, it is necessary for practicing clinicians. So, I hope that the enduring impact of the pandemic is better prepared, adaptable professionals.
Whitney Schneider-Cline Ph.D.: Graduate students completing our program will continue to need skills in providing quality clinical services across diverse populations in various modalities. Graduates from the University of Nebraska Kearney speech-language pathology program have training and experience in telepractice (and have for several years - before the pandemic) and across various settings to give them the breadth of clinical skills to be successful professionals. We strive to develop our graduate students, so they are equipped with the skills necessary to provide appropriate evidence-based services, document these services professionally, advocate for their clients and profession, and instill life-long learning habits, so they stay informed well beyond our program.
Whitney Schneider-Cline Ph.D.: Sometimes our graduate students don't see their clinical experiences as resume-worthy content; however, I think it is essential to include specific information about your training to make an individual stand out. For students who do not have previous employment as a clinician, they have to work with them, and they should make the most of it. If you were trained in telepractice, have experience with specific assessment tools or treatment approaches, this should be included and tailored to how you are using your resume/where you are applying for employment. For our pandemic graduates, a stand out experience was completing their internships during the onset of this challenging time. Some of our students ended up training their supervising speech-language pathologists in the area of telepractice because our students had training and experience in this area, while the professional did not.
Dr. Ruth Litovsky Ph.D.: A big trend will be greater flexibility in the workplace about hours and work mode. There are likely to be more jobs that allow working from home with decreased office space need. By being more nimble, employees may not need to relocate or may be able to delay their relocation. Also, recruitment and interviewing will likely transition to on-line formats, facilitating greater access and ease of participating in interviews.
Dr. Ruth Litovsky Ph.D.: -Ability to work closely with others
-Teamwork and strong communication skills
Dr. Ruth Litovsky Ph.D.: If students with a CSD major do not pursue graduate school, they can apply for:
-Internships in healthcare and human services
-Teach for America
-Newborn hearing screenings
-Hearing aid dispenser
-Research assistant in a lab
-American Sign Language Interpreter (with the appropriate amount of ASL)
Monica Sampson Ph.D.: The demand for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and their services was already extremely high in healthcare and education settings, and COVID-19 is only intensifying this demand. SLPs working in healthcare settings have played a key role on the frontlines of the pandemic, directly treating patients recovering from COVID-19. There will be a need for more SLPs working in healthcare settings. COVID-19 patients who have spent time on a ventilator may have trouble speaking-and may need help communicating in other ways. Sometimes, alternative forms of communication must be implemented to enable communication (this is called augmentative and alternative communication, or AAC). This may include anything from simple picture boards that a patient can point to, to more advanced technologies such as speech-generating devices (SGDs). It is critical for patients to be able to express their needs and wants as they recover-whether they are in pain, whether they are hungry, whether they need to use the restroom . . . this is something that is taken for granted, until it is taken away. Restoring a person's communication is always important, but it's especially so now because many patients have not been able to have loved ones in the hospital with them, and those people normally understand and translate a patient's needs. This is the crux of SLPs' work!
COVID-19 can also cause vocal cord damage due to ventilator use; short and long-term cognitive issues (again, most often for those who spend a significant amount of time on a ventilator); and difficulties with swallowing and feeding (without nourishment, it is impossible to recover from any illness-so this is critical). These issues are all within an SLP's scope of practice and expertise. Also, as a result of critical illness, some patients have experienced strokes-which can lead to a host of communication, social, and swallowing problems. The goal is always to return patients to pre-pandemic functioning so they can lead full lives.
Beyond hospitals and ICUs, an increasing number of SLPs will be needed in long-term care and residential facilities to work with COVID "long haulers" who may have significant problems functioning for a longer period of time due to lasting cognitive and communication problems. We also have seen a greater demand for collaboration with other healthcare providers with the increasing complexity of the medical needs of patients.
The pandemic has also seen skyrocketing usage of telehealth services as people limit their in-person medical visits when possible. While many were reluctant to use telehealth before, and insurance coverage was highly disparate, we may see more demand for SLP services delivered in this way-even after the pandemic is under control. This will depend, in part, on whether emergency provisions to allow telehealth are adopted permanently by state and local regulations, as well as policies around insurance reimbursement. This may improve access in rural and underserved areas.
Within schools, services delivered virtually were rare; while most of these services will likely return to in-person, once children are back in school buildings, it likely will be a more viable option where staffing shortages occur. This is true for early intervention services as well, working with the birth to three population of children. Unfortunately, young children with communication needs and hearing loss may have missed out on referrals to early intervention services during the pandemic. For example, children who did not pass newborn hearing screenings may be lost to follow up and may experience more language delays. Pediatricians may make fewer referrals for communication services when COVID-19 is the most pressing concern. Missed opportunities for early identification and early intervention services may mean an increasing number of children with more severe communication challenges in kindergarten and elementary school grades and a greater need for SLPs and special education services. SLPs also may also be playing catch up in schools with children who didn't have access to online schooling during the pandemic, didn't get necessarily socialization skills, and/or didn't have access to SLP services via telehealth. All of these service and education delays foresee increased demands for SLP services in the future.
Monica Sampson Ph.D.: The biggest technology trends in the coming years related to speech-language pathology will include the following:
- Telehealth platforms to enable access to patients who otherwise have limited access to timely and reliable SLP services
- Electronic documentation systems, especially ones that seamlessly integrate across providers in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health, and outpatient clinics. This minimizes gaps in communication among clinicians with easy transfer of records.
- Assistive technology to enhance to either provide or augment access to communication for children and adults who cannot communicate or have difficulty communicating verbally, including SGDs.
- Apps and digital material as assessment and treatment tools: With an increased focus on digital access to SLP services, the profession has a critical need for digital material for assessment and treatment of communication, cognition, and swallowing impairments across the lifespan.
- Use of artificial intelligence to bolster learning and enhance creativity in pedagogy.
The lack of access to technology by underrepresented populations will continue to be a pressing need post-COVID-19.
Monica Sampson Ph.D.: Most definitely, the demand for SLPs will increase. Even before the pandemic, excellent job opportunities in speech-language pathology were projected to grow by 25 percent (from 2019 to 2029), faster than the average for all occupations. There are a host of trends that contribute to this growth in the profession, as identified by ASHA:
Older Populations-The expanding population in older age groups is prone to medical conditions that result in speech, language, cognition, social-communication, and swallowing problems.
Retirees-An expected increase in retirements throughout the coming years should create excellent job opportunities for speech-language pathologists.
Increased Survival Rates-Medical advances are improving the survival rate of preterm infants and trauma and stroke survivors, who then need assessment and possible treatment.
Early Identification and Diagnosis-Greater awareness of the importance of early identification and diagnosis of speech, language, cognitive, social-communication, and swallowing disorders in young children will increase employment.
Increased School Enrollments-Employment in educational services will increase along with growth in elementary and secondary school enrollments, including the enrollment of special education students. Federal law guarantees special education and related services to all eligible students with disabilities.
Need for Contract Services-The number of SLPs in private practice will rise due to the increasing use of contract services by hospitals, schools, and nursing care facilities.
Bilingualism-Many opportunities exist for those with the ability to speak more than one language.