Speech pathology students soaring through placement with Flying Doctors

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday
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Federation University Australia and the Royal Flying Doctor Service Victoria (RFDS) have partnered to deliver placement and volunteering opportunities to speech pathology students.

Federation University student, Laura Howard, is currently undertaking her Masters of Speech Pathology while working as a literacy interventionist. As an experienced primary school teacher, Ms Howard says she has a keen interest in working with the paediatric population.

“I have a special interest in early literacy intervention and speech-sound disorders,” she says.

During her time volunteering with the RFDS Victoria, she administered speech and language screeners to three and four-year-old kindergarten children.

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“I gained knowledge about a range of speech and language assessments suitable for kinder-aged children, including how to administer the assessment, score and analyse the results,” Ms Howard says.

“I also learned about the role of the RFDS in the area and developed my knowledge of age-appropriate language and speech developmental milestones.”

Placements lead to improved knowledge

Dr Melanie Trivett is the Primary Health Care General Manager for RFDS Victoria and says that, for students who grow up in rural areas, placements allow them to gain confidence to return to practice in a rural community. For those raised in metropolitan areas, it can open up possibilities of working in a different setting.

“We are pleased that our collaboration with Federation University and Inglewood District Health Service has helped support the placement of speech therapy students in the Buloke and Loddon shires,” says Dr Trivett.

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“Rural placements allow students to experience not only the clinical aspects of a rural health professional’s role but to also experience the benefits of a rural lifestyle. It is important that students are well supported during these placements – a great experience could be difference between bringing a future health professional to a rural community or not.”

Huge demand means a wealth of career potential

Ms Howard is excited about a career as a speech pathologist, as she says it gives her the opportunity to work with her preferred client population, as well as having a broad scope of practice. Plus, with what she says is a huge demand for skilled people in the area, sustainable employment prospects are positive.

“The placement provided an opportunity for me to expand my knowledge about the healthcare system and speech pathology service delivery in rural Victoria,” she says.

“It also gave me hands-on experience and an opportunity to work with an age group, that I had not yet had any experience with. The placement further provided direct access to an experienced speech pathologist, who offered advice and shared resources I will be able to use when I graduate.”

Ms Howard sees speech pathology as offering the opportunity to work with my preferred client population and within an area of passion and interest, with the added bonus of being a broad scope of practice – “and so does not necessarily pigeon-hole me into one area of work either”.

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“The huge demand for speech pathologists and therefore job security was an important factor when choosing to study, as was the opportunity to provide help and support to people seeking professional support.”

Quote attributable to Federation University Speech Pathologist and Audiologist Discipline Lead Speech Pathology, Institute of Health and Wellbeing, Professor Chyrisse Heine
“The strong collaboration between Federation University’s Speech Pathology discipline and RFDS not only provides opportunities for our organizations, but most importantly provides a valuable service to regional communities.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]brandx.live