Jody O’Donnell – Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)

1. In 10 words or less… What exactly do you do?
Improve communication skills for all ages in various settings

2. Why did you choose this health profession?
I had a friend whose father had had a stroke and was receiving speech therapy to improve his ability to communicate/talk. I was intrigued and wanted to learn how to help others improve communication skills.

3. What do you find most rewarding about your health profession?
Being able to help individuals improve, learn and/or re-learn how to communicate which will improve their relationships with others.

4. Is there anything that you don’t like about being a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)?
Not being able to ‘cure’ all of my clients. This profession typically involves teaching clients to utilize strategies to succeed in school or at home. Therapy for speech sound mispronunciation is the one area where an SLP can actually ‘cure’ the problem.

5. Does it require a lot of college to become an SLP?
Two degrees: Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree.

6. What was the best part of your college experience?
The best part of my college experience was having the opportunity to do an externship the last trimester of my senior year in my undergraduate program with an SLP in a school setting. Typically this experience only occurs as the Graduate level.

7. What are your responsibilities on any given day/week?
University setting: I supervise graduate students conducting therapy in our clinic; review lesson plans, progress notes and treatment plans; meet with students to help plan therapy sessions and teach an undergraduate course.
School setting: conduct therapy primarily in a direct services model of 1 -2 students per 25 min. session. Set up or attend Individual Education Plan meetings, fill-out daily Medicaid activity forms, and consult with teachers regarding student skills.

8. What has been your best day as a SLP?
Watching a graduate student conduct a therapy session using behavioral supports that kept the client learning and involved.

9. What has been your most memorable case/patient as a SLP?
An interesting and challenging case for me was a child who had a severe physical and mental disability who required troubleshooting on whether she was a candidate for an alternative communication system.

10. What is the most unusual case/illness that you have seen as a SLP?
A child with selective mutism.

11. Is there any advice you would give someone thinking about becoming a SLP?
Study hard, be flexible and enjoy the variety this occupation provides. You need to be a people person.

12. What can students do now to start preparing to enter into the Health Profession world?
Take courses that deal not only with biological sciences but courses in psychology dept. as well, since knowledge of counseling is very beneficial when working with people.

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