Speech-language pathology is a rewarding career for the right type of person. Often working in varying conditions with a variety of clients, a speech-language pathology career is not for the faint of heart. If you’re currently in the field or considering this career path, here are 10 traits that every speech-language pathologist (SLP) should possess or work on building.
1. Be compassionate.
A sincere desire to help their patients should be the first trait a prospective speech-language pathologist possesses. Without a compassionate and caring nature, success in treating and bonding with patients will be limited.
2. Be sensitive.
The ability to be sensitive to others’ needs, desires, and possible problems or emotional triggers is another trait a pathologist should have. Without a marked sensitive nature, the SLP may find it hard to truly connect with their patients.
3. Have good verbal communication skills.
You must be able to clearly communicate verbally with a variety of individuals. This trait is not only essential to aiding others with speech difficulties, but in communicating with caretakers, hospitals, PCPs, and other providers.
4. Be a good listener.
Listening will also serve you well. If you’re able to listen to the needs and wants of your clients and their caretakers, issues should be kept to a minimum. Being able to listen means that more communication gets done in less time, so you’re not asking people to repeat themselves if you weren’t listening the first time they spoke.
5. Be a good teacher.
You should have at least a medium grasp on how to teach someone to perform a task correctly. Guiding them through steps, whether verbal or physical (such as swallowing) is essential.
6. Be persistent.
You need to be able to see something through to the end. Sometimes your caseload or clients may be difficult, but having the grit to stick it out and progress to the other side is a highly desired trait. Giving up halfway through a task is never a good start.
7. Be resourceful.
Being close at hand with the correct solution or item will never go amiss. Always have things on hand that you might not think of – office supplies, spare pens, pads of paper – you never know when certain tools or tricks will come in handy.
8. Be adaptable.
You need to think on your feet. Improvisation and the ability to adjust plans or care at a moment’s notice are wonderful skills to have. Adapt to the situation, rather than assuming a situation will adapt to you and your needs.
9. Have good scientific aptitude.
You need an affinity for sciences (both biological and social), anatomy, and languages. Understanding your patients and your caseload is crucial to success as a speech-language pathologist.
10. Work well with others.
Being able to communicate and work well with either a team of professionals or your client is key. Being able to get along with a variety of people, even if some may be difficult and inflexible, is an important trait for a speech-language pathologist to have.
There are a variety of traits that you should possess before considering a career in speech-language pathology. Empathy, compassion, excellent communication skills, and the ability to care for others are just the tip of the iceberg. Overall, it can be a very rewarding career for the right person.
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