Life after uni as a speech pathologist

December 2012 was a momentous occasion for me. I graduated from The University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Speech Pathology and first class honours. My passion was working with children, and I had a keen interest in childhood communication difficulties, so after graduating I jumped at the opportunity to work as a speech pathologist in schools in the Brisbane area. Commencing work full-time was a steep learning curve. Not only did I have to say goodbye to treasured sleep-ins, but I also had to learn to identify as a professional rather than a student,’ and to work as a clinician alongside teachers and other professionals in a school environment.

As a speech pathologist working in schools, a large part of my caseload was helping children with oral language difficulties. In a short amount of time I witnessed firsthand the tremendous impact that these difficulties can have on a child in the classroom. It meant they often had trouble understanding instructions, they found it hard to communicate effectively with their peers and develop friendships, they had difficulty learning other vital skills in the classroom such as literacy and numeracy, and sadly the list goes on…

I loved my clinical work and it was very rewarding to help these children find their voice in the classroom, but I found myself asking questions about what I was seeing. I wanted the skills to be able to resolve these problems. When I started my bachelor degree, I never anticipated a career path in research, but my inquisitive side got the best of me.  I was soon embracing the student lifestyle once again. This time, I was embarking on a whole new adventure - the PhD - and I haven’t looked back!

I am currently in the final year of my doctoral studies, and throughout the PhD journey I have found it important to embrace any opportunities that come my way. This year that meant I was quick to sign up for the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. I found my 3MT experience to be very rewarding and beneficial in many ways. It gave me a push in overcoming my public speaking nerves and standing up in front of an audience without notes. If you have fears about giving a presentation, make sure you check out this post. In my planning for the 3MT presentation I found it very beneficial to look at my research from the perspective of a lay person and figure out how to effectively communicate my research aims and findings in every-day language. This was by no means an easy feat after three years of trying to perfect an academic writing style. I knew this was an important skill for me to master, and I know I will continue reaping the benefits of my newfound knowledge and confidence for years to come. I highly recommend participating in the 3MT competition to any other research higher degree students reading this post. Check out my presentation below.

I love being a speech pathologist because of the important role that my profession has for giving people from all walks of life, from infants to the elderly, the most basic human right - that of communication. After my PhD, I hope to continue research and clinical work in the area of childhood language difficulties. I will continue to advocate and raise awareness for children with language difficulties in the hope that fewer children wind up lost (or stuck) in the language maze.

Meet the author…

My name is Rebecca Armstrong and I am a current PhD student within the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. My area of research and clinical expertise is school age children. My research focuses on identifying early life predictors of language difficulties and profiling the long-term outcomes following formal education for adolescents with a history of language problems.


Last updated:
22 September 2016