What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
For my Leaving Cert I studied Biology, Chemistry, Economics and French along with the other core subjects. Biology and English had the most relevance to my future studies.
What is your education to date?
I studied for my Leaving Cert in my local secondary school. After this I began the Clinical Speech and Language Studies Course in TCD. This is a four year degree course.
There are now similar courses available in NUI Galway and University College Cork. There is also a postgraduate course in the University of Limerick and a degree course in University of Ulster Jordanstown.
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
My undergraduate degree course in TCD was definitely the most important education for my job. It was a challenging and intensive course. First year is spent studying a range of different subjects including linguistics, phonetics, language acquisition, psychology, physiology.
Second year is based around learning how to assess the speech and language skills of a wide range of client groups. Third year is based around learning the principles and techniques for providing therapy.
Throughout these years students have a wide variety of clinical placements. Some are once a week while attending lectures. Others are full time placements ranging from 4 to 6 weeks.
Several of these placements involved living away from home for the period of the placement. Fourth year is made up mostly with clinical placements, researching and producing a research project and other subjects such as neuropsychology and additional topics. Grades are based on written exams, assignments, essays, practical clinical exams and the research project. I found that the clinical placements were the most beneficial part of the course as I got the chance to put new skills and knowledge into practice.
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
Continuing professional development is an important part of my job. This includes attending courses that are organised to train new assessment and therapy skills. I have had the chance to attend several courses over the past year and a half since I began working. It also involves keeping up to date with new research and evidence for the therapy techniques that we use and also undertaking research.
On a day to day basis all the therapists share new ideas and information with each other and it is very useful to discuss clients with more experienced therapists to get extra ideas. It is also possible to further your formal education by undertaking a masters or a higher level diploma course. There are several of these available in the area of speech and language therapy.