First Cohort of Speech Therapy students enters final-year of studies

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More than 80% of the first cohort of students from the Department of Rehabilitative Sciences within the Faculty of Health Sciences are set to finish their studies this year and graduate in 2022. 

 The students enrolled in 2018. The Department of Rehabilitative Sciences officially opened its doors in 2016. It offers a BSc Speech Language Pathology programme that was accredited in 2017.
 
According to the Head of Department, Ms Unati StemelaZali, the BSc Audiology programme is also fully accredited but awaiting the South African Qualifications Authority registration. 
 
Stemela-Zali shared some of the latest developments, highlights, challenges, job opportunities that await the graduates and her aspirations for the department. 
 
The Bureau of Labour Statistics states that the demand for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) is on the rise, with projected job growth at 21% through 2024. Yet a shortage of SLPs has put the squeeze on schools and healthcare organisations. Employment Opportunities The scope for job opportunities is quite wide.
UFH graduates can pursue careers in the following sectors:
 
• Department of Health - as Therapists in Healthcare Centres
• Department of Education - as Curriculum Support Therapists for learners with barriers in education
• Academia - as Researchers and Academics • Private practice - as self-employed Therapists in independent practice
• Private sector - like insurance companies and medical aid companies as communication disability specialists, etc.
 
“Employment opportunities are still plentiful as this programme offers a scarce skill nationally. In this current cohort about 80% of students are studying through the Eastern Cape Department of Health Bursary. They will be placed in the Department’s facilities as soon as they get their results confirming their degree completion in December 2021,” she elaborated.
 
Despite some challenges such as staff shortage and under-equipped labs, Stemela-Zali has great aspirations for this department and is optimistic these can be realised.
These include:
• Becoming one of the leading producers of rehabilitation professionals nationally and internationally
• To produce rehabilitation professionals who are contextually relevant in terms of their skills.
• To become a contextually relevant knowledge producer through research, and
• To offer more programmes in the near future, such as Audiology, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy.”