Leading with Science: Bilingual Speech-Language Pathologists Meet Shifting Demographics Head On
Throughout her undergraduate and graduate career, Brenda K. Gorman, PhD, did not anticipate becoming a bilingual speech-language pathologist:
“I think I was one of a handful of us that didn’t know about the profession before we got into it.”
Studying engineering and Spanish for her bachelor’s degree, and later Latin American Studies for her master’s, all that she knew was that she wanted to combine her interests in science, language, and helping people. After coincidentally picking up an informational flier and shadowing a bilingual speech-language pathologist, Dr. Gorman knew that she had found the right career path for her and began studying to become a pathologist herself. After years in the field, Dr. Gorman now works in an advisory role as the director of clinical services at Grupo Lingua, a speech-language pathology staffing company for U.S. school districts.
Bilingual speech-language pathology is a field facing exponential growth. This growth is partially due to a growing interest in the profession, which focuses on diagnosing and treating communication disorders. However, it is also due to the shifting demographics across the United States. Besides states such as New Mexico, California, New York, and Illinois that have faced increasing bilingual populations for decades, states such as Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Minnesota have had their demographics begin to rapidly shift since 2000 as well.
As it stands, there are currently very few speech-language pathologists to meet the growing demand in any language other than English, and children who are English language learners are one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population.
According to Dr. Gorman “a lot of people may be interested in speech-language pathology because they’ve seen the consistent ratings that it’s an excellent, very promising field with a good salary.” She added that working with bilingual populations “is just icing on the cake.”
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