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The vast majority of speech pathology internships are designed for graduate students and most are specifically tailored to the students' particular research and career interests. Students interested in diagnosing disorders in newborns usually intern in neonatal intensive care units, for instance. Those hoping to work with accent reduction and speech impediments often work in schools and clinics, while students whose focus is facial reconstruction and speech rehabilitation after accident or illness often work in association with hospitals. Depending on the employer, some undergraduate internships may also be available, though this is rare.
Speech pathologists do not usually have medical degrees, but they are considered members of the medical profession. Much of their work involves medical screening and rehabilitation therapy that depends on an intricate understanding of human speech and language development processes. Students typically hone this expertise in master’s degree programs. Most of these programs have an internship requirement. It follows, then, that the majority of speech pathology internships are geared towards students pursuing these sorts of degrees.
Internships are usually broken up by patient type and research area. Students typically apply to internships based on their master’s thesis research interests. It is common to complete the internship either the summer before the final year or during the fall semester of that year. Most students use the internship experience as a way to collect research and data points for their theses.
The vast majority of speech pathology internships are unpaid internships. Students may receive credit hours for their work, but rarely money. Internships are usually hosted by hospitals, clinics, and non-profit organizations that do not often have discretionary budgets. Sponsoring organizations often have arrangements with nearby schools to supply a certain number of interns on a rotating basis, but paid internships are uncommon.
Most graduate schools have intern placement programs that help match students with appropriate work experience. All graduate students will usually be able to find speech pathology internships somewhere. Just the same, the internship application process is usually quite competitive. Many of the most prestigious institutions and hospitals accept only one or two interns per cycle, often from a nationwide applicant pool.
Studying speech and language pathology is increasingly popular at the undergraduate level, as well. Many of these students look for summer internships to help them develop their skills and get better ideas about their future career development. These sorts of internships are rare, however.
It is much more common for undergraduate students to do volunteer work with speech and pathology providers. Volunteering gives students some hands-on experience but does not strain the resources of the supporting organizations the way that structured speech pathology internships might. It is not usually possible for volunteers to actually work with patients, but they can gain a lot of practical knowledge and can see a side of the field not contained in the classroom.
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