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Vital Links in Communication

Experts in communication, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are integral members of the therapy team. Communication is not merely forming words and pronouncing them, it’s essential to a productive life.

Experts in communication, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are integral members of the therapy team. Communication is not merely forming words and pronouncing them, it’s essential to a productive life. Communication involves speech and articulation, language and literacy, comprehension, problem solving, and social interaction. Swallowing impacts communication abilities as well, and this highly complex reflex needs retraining after a stroke. In my brother Frank’s case, it was more than 3 months before he could swallow food again. Frank suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke in January and is still in a long-term care facility. I’ve seen his highly dedicated SLP work on all of these communication issues with Frank, and because of her care, he is greatly improving.

SLPs work in schools, long-term care facilities, hospitals, home health agencies, outpatient clinics, private practices, and more. A bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders (CSD) is considered entry level training that can lead to careers in health care, public policy, education, and science. In order to practice as an SLP, a master’s degree is required. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the nation’s leading professional, scientific, and credentialing organization representing SLPs and audiologists. According to the ASHA website, more than 170,000 audiologists and SLPs hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) designation. This is a voluntary designation that demonstrates the commitment to achieve additional training beyond basic state licensure requirements.

Frank, the brother of Editor in Chief Jill Rethman, RDH, BA, with Amanda, his speech-language pathologist.

A CCC-SLP must:

  • Graduate from a recognized CSD program.
  • Possess a master’s, doctoral, or other recognized post-baccalaureate degree.
  • Pass the PRAXIS exam in speech-language pathology.
  • Complete clinical fellowship experience, which involves mentored clinical experience after the completion of academic course work.

Thanks to the excellent care he is receiving, my brother continues to make progress in his long recovery. It’s a difficult and sometimes frustrating journey that takes so many skilled professionals to impact positive results (see the April and June issues of Dimensions of Dental Hygiene for a description of the roles of respiratory and occupational therapists). But each time I visit with him, I see the results of his strong determination and hard work. All of his care providers have impacted his progress, and his SLP is no exception. I know many of you are experiencing similar challenges with loved ones, so I hope sharing my brother’s experience provides some optimism and comfort. More to come!

Jill Rethman, RDH, BA
Editor in Chief
jrethman@belmontpublications.com

P.S. I just heard that Frank ventured outside for the first time since January! Some friends picked him up in a wheelchair-compatible van and took him home for a brief visit. What a wonderful day for him—one he will never forget.

From Dimensions of Dental HygieneAugust 2018;16(8):10.

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