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Speech Pathologists in Long-Term Care
18 March 2013 (online)
Linking and interpreting the various demographic data sets reported by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, it seems reasonable to conclude that almost one-quarter of adult-focused speech-language pathologists in the United States work in long-term care/skilled nursing facilities (LTS/SNF). It is also relatively clear that in both the immediate and the more distant futures, this percentage will increase substantially.
Although coursework in neurogenic speech/language/hearing disorders and dysphagia are all appropriate and necessary, I sense that academic programs in communication sciences and disorders frequently do not adequately prepare master's students for the realities of their roles, responsibilities, and satisfactions of working in these settings. I believe that there is a rather larger gap, generally, between education and clinical practice in LTC/SNF settings than for most other aspects of medically centered speech-language pathology.
This issue of Seminars should play an important role in narrowing this gap. With the exception of Nidhi Mahendra (who wisely chose practicing collaborators), these authors and the astute Jennifer Brush who corralled them into contributing to this issue, are in various ways on the long-term care firing line. Before overseeing this issue, I thought I was knowledgeable and informed about the long-term care setting. Not. This was an eye-opening experience for me and I hope it will be for readers as well.