I will always be thankful for a young communication sciences and disorders (CSD) student who propelled me into my chosen career. Like many undergraduates, I spent part of my early college experience in a major that didn’t end up a “good fit.” At the moment I (finally) realized it wasn’t for me, I didn’t have a major to replace it. Fortunately, an acquaintance nudged me in the direction of speech-language pathology. Years later, there still hasn’t been a day I regretted my career choice.
May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. I enjoy seeing the creative things that our colleagues do to promote better communication. This month is also a great opportunity to promote the professions themselves! As ASHA’s membership grows, our ability to respond to communication disorders becomes stronger. This is particularly true as our professions grow in diversity and include a greater variety of perspectives. For this reason, one of the objectives listed in ASHA’s Strategic Pathway to Excellence is to increase the diversity of the association’s membership.
So what can we do to help people become interested in CSD? Many of us work right where these future professionals spend most of their day. Audiologists and speech-language pathologists working in schools enjoy prime opportunities to raise awareness. Those working in clinical or university settings also frequently encounter students, colleagues and even clients seeking advice about their future.
Here are a few ideas for making the most of opportunities for promoting our professions in our work settings:
- Incorporate a discussion into an intervention activity. “What I want to be when I grow up,” for example, contains a lot of language skills for school-age kids.
- Volunteer to give a guest presentation on acoustics in your school’s physics class, or on anatomy or physiology in your school’s biology class.
- Organize or participate in a school career day or university career fair.
- Relate your field to other activities! I’ve discussed language concepts needed for arithmetic at a school Math Night. AAC and audiometry are great topics for technology fairs.
- Share information with your school’s guidance counselor or university career center.
ASHA also provides resources for helping us develop a discussion or presentation. These include:
- “Careers that Grow with You” videos. These are brief vignettes highlighting the wide variety of CSD careers.
- “Reward Yourself” video. This video features the stories of seven different ASHA members who each shares a rewarding professional experiences.
- “Reward Yourself” brochures. Available for order from the ASHA website.
- Career guidance tools. These include posters in English and Spanish on speech-language pathology and audiology.
May is a great time to focus on the future of communication sciences and disorders. As we raise awareness of the professions themselves—particularly among individuals from underrepresented communities—we invest in a stronger, more diverse ASHA and many Better Hearing and Speech Months to come.
Nate Cornish, MS, CCC-SLP, is a bilingual (English/Spanish) clinician and clinical director for VocoVision and Bilingual Therapies. He is the professional development manager for ASHA Special Interest Group 18, Telepractice; a member of ASHA’s Multicultural Issues Board; and a past president of ASHA’s Hispanic Caucus. Cornish provides clinical support to monolingual and bilingual telepractitioners around the country. He also organizes and presents at various continuing education events, including an annual symposium on bilingualism. Nathan.Cornish@Bilingualtherapies.com