The state of Texas is in short supply of speech-language pathologists. The profession, which assists people with swallowing, communicating or with cognitive issues, also has a great need for speech-language pathology assistants.
“These professionals will assist speech-language pathologists with growing caseloads in public schools, early childhood intervention programs, hospitals, clinics and in private practice,” said Kay James, director of the University of Houston Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA) certificate program. “The shortages experienced in Texas often results in large caseloads and means many of those who need the services may have less access to speech and language services or have to wait longer for services. Assistants help busy speech-language pathologists better manage their caseloads.”
Applications are being accepted for the UH Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA) certificate program. The two-year program, housed at the University of Houston Sugar Land, is seating a new cohort. The deadline to apply is January 15.
The SLPA program prepares students to provide services under the supervision of a certified speech-language pathologist in a variety of work settings. Graduates of the SLPA certificate program will be eligible for licensure in Texas as a speech-language pathology assistant. The program is designed for individuals who have already achieved a bachelor’s degree in another discipline.
“In our program, there are individuals who are changing careers,” said James. “We’ve had nurse practitioners, accountants, engineers, teachers and marketing professionals who range in age from 23 to 58. Even at age 58 you can start a whole new career.”
The program is part of the UH Communication Sciences and Disorders (ComD) Department. The SLPA certificate program is the only one of its kind in Texas.
All of the classes are held at the UH Sugar Land Campus. Four cohorts of students have completed the program since it began in 2011. In addition to the rigorous coursework, students must complete more than 100 hours of clinical training and observation as part of required externships in area agencies. At the end of the program, students are prepared to apply for licensure and begin working as an SLP assistant.
The national professional organization for speech and language pathologists, American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), has made a commitment to support the training and professional growth of assistants and is working with states to create more consistent expectations and requirements.
“The field of speech language pathology is always in the top ten of lists in employment opportunities,” said James. “Communities and employers love our students. They are informed, trained and bilingual in many cases, making them ideal candidates to hit the ground running and make a real difference.”