What Is A Medical SLP?

Juliet D'cruz

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The title “medical SLP” is short for Medical Speech-Language Pathologist. Also called a speech therapist, a medical SLP is a healthcare professional who works with people suffering from speech, language, or related difficulties.

What Is a Speech-Language Pathologist?

SLP’s are therapists who work with patients suffering from either cognitive or physical communication disorders. This can include problems with:

  • Vocalization
  • Articulation
  • Stuttering
  • Semantics
  • Syntax
  • Word-finding
  • Phonics
  • Swallowing

Speech-language pathologists may work in either a medical setting like a hospital or an educational setting, typically within schools. They are often part of a team of healthcare professionals acting together to manage a patient’s health and achieve certain outcomes.

What Does a Medical Speech-Language Pathologist Do?

The field of speech-language pathology covers a wide range of potential patients. SLP’s work with patients who have difficulties or disorders of speech; this includes issues with fluency, voice, and articulation.

They also assist those who struggle with language disorders such as aphasia, learning difficulties relating to language, and pragmatic hurdles like understanding social rules and cues during communication.

Patients may encounter difficulties due to either psychological, neurological, or physical deficiencies. Therefore, speech-language pathologists are also trained to give therapeutic assistance to patients for related functions such as swallowing and coping with hearing loss.

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Job Responsibilities

Speech-language pathology work involves a number of different duties. Among other tasks, SLP’s may be responsible for the following:

Conducting patient screenings: SLP’s conduct screenings to consistently detect speech disorders so that diagnosis and treatment can follow.

Diagnosis: Once someone has identified a patient as having a speech or language difficulty, it is up to a medical SLP to diagnose specifically what the nature of their impediment is.

Formulating treatment plans: SLP’s design treatment plans to suit the needs of each patient.

Treatment: Most significantly, SLP therapists follow through on the treatment that a patient requires insofar as it falls within their expertise.

Developing patient skills: Part of the treatment is aiding patients in developing the skills in whichever areas they are lacking.

Training family members and other caregivers, doctors, and professionals: Successful speech-language therapy often requires the cooperation and coordination of all involved in a patient’s treatment. Thus, SLP’s educate and train others working as the person’s health “team” to ensure therapy is effective and consistent.

How to Become a Medical Speech-Language Pathologist

Most speech-language pathologists begin with a bachelor’s degree and then go on to get a graduate degree from places like SpeechPathologyGraduatePrograms.org. After that, it is typical to complete a clinical fellowship year, followed by applying for a state license and completing a certification, finally.


To summarize, speech-language pathologists or speech therapists can treat a variety of patients and disorders relating to speech, language, or relevant physical challenges. They oversee the entire scope of care from detection to coordination of treatment, and they must be highly educated and well-trained.

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