Career Profile: Speech-Language Pathologist
Christy Ludlow, Ph.D., Speech-Language Pathologist, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Education
I chose this career because…
I chose to become a speech and language pathologist, because of personal experiences and the career information I learned while in undergraduate school. My cousin and I were close friends before and during our teenage years. He stuttered badly, and I witnessed many of the challenges that he faced on a daily basis. During undergraduate school, I thought I wanted to go to medical school. During my interview for medical school, I was asked if I would devote 15 years of my life to medicine. At the time, that seemed like forever. I decided that I did not want to make that commitment.
One evening, there was a career night at McGill University, where I was working on my undergraduate degree. An invited guest presented career information about speech pathology and audiology. She talked about the clinical and research opportunities that existed in the field, both of which captured my interest. She invited the attendants to come and observe a therapy session. I watched a session of therapy with people who stuttered and thought it was very interesting. I entered the program and completed a dual tract program in speech pathology and audiology. After that, I did an internship in audiology. The science base in audiology was great. However, we did the same thing every day and I decided to focus my career on speech pathology. There was more variety and I liked the clinical and research opportunities that were available.
I worked for three years as a speech pathologist at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University Medical Center, in New York. While there, I worked with stroke patients who were undergoing rehabilitation and who had aphasia (a language disorder). I also worked as a research assistant and was more and more drawn to the research opportunities in the field. At the time, I felt I was only one step ahead of the patients in my knowledge and understanding. That is when I made the decision to go into research on a full-time basis. I returned to school to earn my Ph.D.
Education, Certification & Licensure
â€¢ Bachelor of Science, Physiological Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec Province, Canada
â€¢ Master of Science Applied, Speech Pathology and Audiology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec Province, Canada
â€¢ Doctor of Philosophy, Speech Pathology and Psycholinguistics, New York University, New York City, New York
â€¢ Certification of Clinical Competence in Speech – Language Pathology, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
â€¢ Licensed, Board of Examiners of Speech and Language Pathology and Audiology, Maryland
My typical workday involves…
I see patients in the clinic who are participating in research studies. We approach our clinical research studies for a particular disorder in on one of 3 ways:
â€¢ Developing diagnostic criteria
â€¢ Developing new treatments
â€¢ Trying to understand the cause of the disorder, or its pathophysiology