Are you a scientist?

Date: 19th November 2014

Posted on: 19-11-2014

This is the question we posed yesterday on Twitter to over 2000 followers: As a speech and language therapist do you consider yourself a scientist?

Science careers are particularly in the spotlight, with drives on many fronts to promote careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and in particular to attract more girls to careers in STEM. This often comes with the comments that there are few industries within STEM where women are equally represented.

Many SLTs would have a science degree – perhaps a degree in speech and language sciences or a speech science masters? Some of our overseas clinicians may have degrees in Human Communication Sciences too. I’m sure many clinicians remember their time in physiology or neurology classes…but do therapists consider themselves scientists, or indeed identify with the image of a scientist? Our colleagues in Australia and the US are labelled Speech Pathologists and Speech Language Pathologists respectively, does this perhaps suggest the scientist nature of the role, more than the term Therapist?

The comments on twitter that followed were interesting, and by far the majority did see themselves as scientists. The terms they used were “clinical scientists” and “scientific clinicians“. Caroline Bowen (@speech_woman) shared, “I identify as a clinical scientist with a prof qualification in speech & hearing science. EBP implies scientific work methodology”.  Almost all pointed to the evidence based practice that underpins our work. Some on twitter felt that although they indeed have a science degree or masters, they did not see themselves as scientists! As @speechrocket1 asked, “I am really science-y, but the therapist needs to be art-y as well. What would the combined name for that be?

Please share what you think!


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