Read about the different routes associate/assistant practitioners (APs) have taken to become fully qualified SLTs – apprenticeship, master’s and undergraduate degrees.

Master’s route – Alice’s story

I decided to train as an SLT because although I thoroughly enjoyed my assistant role, I wanted to gain further knowledge to understand more about the profession. I had learnt so much in my therapy role, but felt I was ready to take the next step to understand more about the reasons behind the assessments and interventions I was observing and contributing to.

I had enjoyed studying during my undergraduate degree, however I felt I lost motivation towards the end of the course as I did not have a clear job role in mind. Having now worked alongside SLTs, I felt motivated to begin studying again towards a career path I am enthusiastic to be following!

I am training through the MSc course at City, University of London. During this course, we have placements throughout the two years, with a mix of adults and paediatrics. This year, we have a hybrid structure of teaching where we learn both face-to-face and through online lectures. We also follow a flipped method of teaching, in which we watch pre-recorded lectures along with notes before our lecture and then have a consolidation live lecture to ask any questions from the given material.

In the training, we have covered a wide range of subjects! In terms of child development, there is an emphasis on understanding what is normal developmental in children in order to identify any possible issues.

We have covered anatomical structures around voicing and eating and drinking, which is important to identify any abnormalities and how these may be affecting either voice or eating and drinking.

We have also had modules around dementia, motor speech disorders, child speech disorders, psychology, research methods, phonetics, dysphagia, dysfluency, AAC and linguistics, which shows the wide range of knowledge SLTs need to know in various job settings.

There’s currently so many aspects of speech and language therapy that I enjoy, I find it difficult to decide what my dream job would be! I have previously worked with young adults with learning disabilities in a college setting and adults with learning disabilities living in the community, which I both really enjoyed.

I am currently working on a stroke unit for my first external placement and have been enjoying the fast paced and collaborative working in an acute setting.

There are further areas of SLT which I would like to experience, with my top choice being in a prison setting. I also have not yet worked with children, which I can also see myself enjoying.

I think my dream job would be one in which everyday is different, I get to make positive contributions to an individuals’ quality of life and there’s always room to progress and learn more, which being an SLT absolutely covers!

Apprenticeship route – Lorna’s story

I decided to start training due to my passion for helping others who suffer with communication and/or swallowing difficulties, establish through treatment, rehabilitation or care plans a better quality of life.

Currently I am on the speech and language therapy apprenticeship pathway, this started in October 2021 at the University of Essex. The first two years are to complete the foundation degree. Alongside this there are days where the basics of speech and language therapy are taught enabling an easy transition into a further two year top up degree to become qualified.

Following this qualification my dream job would be to continue in the field of speech and language therapy and establish more communication input within the acute hospital trust for patients who have difficulties communicating their needs.

Undergraduate route – Tamson’s story

I am currently in the first year of studying for a BSc in Speech and Language Therapy at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Prior to this, I worked as an Adult SLT Clinical Assistant for six years, working with a varied client group with communication and/or swallowing difficulties.

I first developed an interest in speech and language therapy when my youngest son was diagnosed with speech delay in 2013. He attended therapy sessions for three years and I saw first hand how speech and language therapy can transform lives.

The experience led to me changing my career after previously working in academic publishing. I decided to return to university as a mature student and retrain as a speech and language therapist so I can continue to empower my clients and support them to improve their quality of life.

The course has been varied so far with a mixture of linguistics, psychology, phonetics, and anatomy and physiology lectures. As well as laying the foundations for my future career as a speech and language therapist, I have so far learnt about disorders of fluency and speech and language development and disorders.

My first face-to-face placement is due to take place in June in a school, but I have had an ongoing virtual placement since November as part of the Virtual Conversation Partner scheme. I talk to my conversation partner each week via Zoom and have enjoyed learning new things from her, including how to knit which I was not able to do before the weekly sessions started.

At the moment, I would like to return to working with adults in the community once I graduate. My dream would be to eventually specialise in voice as this is the area that I enjoyed the most while working as an SLTA.

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