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Steps to become a Speech Language Pathologists or Audiologist

Canadian Schools offering audio

What is an Audiologist?

An audiologist is a medical professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of ear problems. These problems are found in the following areas.

  • Vestibular Nerves
  • Auditory Nerves

They are also trained to manage, diagnose and treat balance or hearing problems. Additionally, they recommend and dispense hearing aids and cochlear implants. They help teach compensation and coping skills to late-deafened individuals. Audiologists also counsel families after infants have experienced hearing loss. These professionals implement and design industrial and personal hearing safety programs. They also work as auditory researchers in a research capacity.

What is a Speech Pathologist?

A Speech pathologist is concerned with the assessment, treatment and study of language and speech. They also treat and assess communication disorders in adults and children. Speech pathology is a rapidly growing and young profession in Canada. It offers an excellent opportunity for individuals who enjoy studying human communication and related disorders.

Degree Requirements

Applicants must complete a four year baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher education.  This is an important requirement to be considered for admission in an audiology school. Additionally, an honours award is a strong asset.

Course Requirements

Applicants must either be working towards or have completed degrees in programs that are closely linked to audiology such as the following.

  • Health Sciences
  • Nursing
  • Natural Sciences
  • Linguistics
  • Kinesiology
  • Biology
  • Psychology

Students who have a strong academic background in these subjects are encouraged to apply. However, they must clearly emphasize their reasons for wanting to be an audiologist in a personal statement.

GPA Requirements

A minimum 3.3 GPA in the last two years of baccalaureate studies is required to be considered for admission.

Application Requirements

  • College Application
  • Official Transcripts
  • Two Confidential Reference Letters
  • Resume
  • Graduate Record Examination Test Scores
  • Volunteer Experience or Relevant Work or Special Qualifications

Additional Recommended Coursework

Some schools required students to do additional coursework that might include the following.

  • Adulthood and Aging
  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Counselling
  • Phonology
  • Language Acquisition
  • Statistics
  • Syntax
  • Acoustic Phonetics

Degree Programs

A master’s of science program in audiology usually lasts 21 to 36 months while a master’s of science program in speech audiology takes 22 to 32 months. However, it may take a much longer period of time. This depends on an individual’s undergraduate education and how quickly they complete courses.

Coursework

Students are required to take a minimum total of 30 credits. This focuses on areas such as audiological and hearing science practice. Other topics include the following.

  • Hearing Science
  • Speech Perception
  • Research Methods
  • Introduction to Communication Disorders
  • Language Across Lifespan
  • Fundamentals of Audiology
  • Aural Rehabilitation
  • Diagnostic Audiology
  • Amplification
  • Auditory Function Physiological Measurement
  • Professional Issues
  • Paediatric Audiology
  • Hearing Conservation
  • Hearing and Aging

The audiology programs also include classroom activities, lectures and laboratory activities. A lot of these learning activities are supported with field experiences that include the following.

  • Visiting a learning center for the deaf
  • Participating in different hearing screening programs for newborns
  • Taking sound measurements in the local community
  • Helping patients join in classroom activities

Additionally, students must finish five clinical externships. These externships last anywhere from six days to eleven weeks. This includes one minor externship and four major externships. The four major externships are focused on audiology. The remaining one minor externship emphasizes speech language pathology. Students will also alternate between clinical externships with basic academic clinical laboratories and clinical work.

During their externships, students work under a practicing audiologist. Students perform supervised clinical service for patients. As they progress, students will steadily assume responsibility for clients. However, they still remain under continued professional supervision. These externships also help students get certified by the CASPLA.

Students are also required to submit a thesis as part of their graduation requirements. Students who have completed all the requirements in the program are eligible to graduate.

Audiology and SLP Accreditation

Every audiology school in Canada is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Canadian University
Programs in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (www.cacup-aslp.ca/). Currently, there are nine schools in Canada that have accredited programs. Only five schools that offer both audiology and speech language pathology. Eight of these programs in speech pathology are offered in graduate level only. Only the University of Montreal offers an undergraduate speech pathologist program.

Audiology and SLP Specializations

Clinical Audiologists

The main job of audiologists is to find the causes of hearing loss and developing treatment plans for patients. They also conduct interviews and diagnostic exams with the patient. This enables them to determine the source of hearing loss. They may also do the following.

  • Prevent future deterioration of hearing
  • Teach people different ways of coping with hearing loss
  • Teach individuals how to properly use a hearing aid

Educational Audiologist

These professionals work in school environments. Their patients include adolescents and children with hearing loss. They monitor audiological evaluations for adolescents and kids with hearing issues. Educational audiologists also communicate their findings to a clinical audiologist. They help school personnel comprehend the impact of hearing loss on learning.

Additionally, they assist teachers in managing hearing loss in school. They also manage classroom acoustics that enables them to eliminate background noise.

Hearing Aid Audiologist

The main duties of these audiologists is to prescribe treatment for people who have the following disorders.

  • Balance disorders
  • Hearing Loss
  • Related Neurological Maladies
  • Related Sensory Malfunctions

Their treatment methods include the following.

  • Cleansing the ear
  • Programming cochlear implants
  • Prescribing hearing aids

They evaluate variables such as bone and air conduction as well as speech perception. They also assess the extent and type of hearing loss. A hearing aid audiologist also pinpoints the location of the damage. They assess speech abilities and language comprehension. They also interview teachers and family members of their patients. This enables them to obtain behavioural and social information that helps them to determine how hearing loss affects their patient’s lifestyle.

Dispensing Audiologists

These professionals specialize in the following.

  • Dispensing assistive listening devices or hearing aids to patients
  • Performing audiometric  procedures such as electroacoustic, rehabilitation, programming and different functional gain measures if needed
  • Coordinating and incorporating diagnostic data with audiometric results.

They also teach patients about the limitations and advantages of hearing aids. These professionals help patients choose the best hearing aid for them. They also administer specialized and routine electroacoustic and acoustic tests. This examination accurately determines patients’ hearing levels.

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