September 24, 2018
Issue 11 2018

The lesser-known workload for Speech and Language Therapy students

When discussing unpaid placements and hectic schedules, one does not normally think of Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) students.

A common misconception is that they deal exclusively with stutters and other speech impediments, however SLTs can cover stroke recovery, cancers, feeding, or anything to do with the throat area.

For this reason, the Speech and Language Therapists’ club(SALT) held a barbecue on September 12 to bring awareness to what they do and what their work looks like, not just for other students, but for any future clients as well.  

Massey’s SLT students are required to complete six to ten weeks of full time placement in the third and fourth year of their studies,equating to as much as 800 hours of unpaid work.

Third year SLT student Abbigail Gates understands why they are not paid.

“It costs them a heap of extra time if you think about it practically - you have to do all the notes and documentation for clients and they have to help you do it all the whole time and it takes you an hour to complete something they do in 10 minutes” she says.

“My SLT who mentored me would’ve been seeing heaps more clients in a day if she didn’t have me to look after.”

SLT students are faced with the same dilemma as training nurses and other medical students, where maintaining a part-time job becomes extremely difficult.

This is unfeasible for many students, and as Gates points out, some have to work on top of their placements regardless.

“There is one case I know where a student continued to work so she did the placement and then worked her job on weekends.

“Students do work part time anyway. Many worked around it and then took 6 weeks leave for placement.”

All of this is in addition to assignments and weekly placements during the rest of the year at Massey’s on-site clinic.

Gates says there are some perks however, including staff parking at their external placements and additional time off if students become overwhelmed by the placement and need mental health support.

Despite this workload, Gates remains grateful.

“I would say they give us heaps of support compared to others such as midwifery where they expect you to be on placement from day one and up at all hours in the night.”