The term jack-of-all-trades refers to persons “who can do many different jobs” (Cambridge Dictionary, n.d.). It perfectly fits speech-language pathologists (SLPs) who are capable of working in different fields. They can offer their services in research, health care, and education (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, n.d.). In the Philippines, SLPs can also practice within or outside the National Capital Region (NCR). While there are options on where to work, there is an unequal distribution of SLPs especially in our country. How so? This article will present two underserved settings of the profession.
There are few SLPs working in the provinces. In the 2019 Survey of Filipino Speech-Language Pathologists, almost 60% of speech therapists in the Philippines practice in the NCR while the remaining 40% are scattered across 16 regions (Philippine Association of Speech Pathologists [PASP], 2020). The SLP to client ratio in the provinces (i.e., one SLP for every 8,108 clients) further emphasizes the difficulty of meeting the needs of Filipinos with communication impairments in remote areas (Ponciano-Villafana, 2018). Evelyn de Vera (Pangasinan), Davilyn Avelina Quilantang (Davao), Mallari Aquino (Pampanga), Viannery Dy Mabag (Cebu), and Genevive Roble-Quinto (Cebu) are five SLPs who share the same passion for working in the province. Listen as they talk about the need for more SLP practitioners, their stories of profound love and commitment to their line of practice, and the positive impact of teletherapy on clients in the province. Viannery Mabag also urges speech pathology students and professionals from Visayas and Mindanao to come back home, provide service, and make a difference in the lives of their kababayan. Watch the video below to find out more.
Few SLPs likewise practice in the hospital setting. Most therapists work in private clinics and only 8.3% reported the hospital as their primary work setting (PASP, 2020). Pamela Ching (Philippine General Hospital) believes that speech pathology students should realize the need for hospital-based therapists. She encourages pediatric SLPs who are considering geriatric practice to “go for it.” She shares how satisfying it is to be a part of the hospital setting and to see the effects of her service to clients and their families. As for Carla Cuadro (St. Luke’s Medical Center), her work enables her to emphasize the personhood of individuals. She states how being a medical SLP allows her clients to be seen as more than just their diagnoses. To hear more about their experiences, watch the video below.
As Viannery Mabag puts it, “Daghan kay nanginahanglan ngari karon” [Maraming pasyente ang may kailangan ng ating serbisyo]. Similar to how other countries experience a lack of practitioners in hospitals and rural areas, there is a pressing need for more FIlipino SLPs in these underserved settings. More than the demand for SLPs, the enrichment that medical and provincial practice can bring to one’s life will hopefully encourage SLP students and professionals to consider pursuing practice in these settings. To learn more, read the stories of Camille Veronica Leyba and Aileen Matalog. The video of the UP Collegiate Association of Speech Pathologist’s interview with Carla Cuadro also provides insights into hospital practice.
In line with the celebration of December 10 as Human Rights Day, the call for more SLPs, especially in provinces and hospitals, is amplified. With more SLP practitioners in these two settings, we can better uphold the right to health of clients who are outside the scope of urban and private clinic practice. Communication rights are highlighted as SLP services play a role in helping people with communication disabilities realize that they have the right to communicate and to experience social participation (McLeod, 2018). The speech pathologists working in hospitals and in the provinces make a strong contribution to the fulfillment of the PASP mission to “support, develop and expand service...ensuring effective communication and safe swallow for all Filipinos.”
2019 Survey of Filipino Speech Language Pathologists. Metro Manila: Philippine Association of Speech Pathologists; 2020. License: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (n.d.). Speech-language pathologists. https://www.asha.org/students/speech-language-pathologists/
Jack-of-all-trades. (n.d.). In Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/jack-of-all-trades
McLeod, S. (2018). Communication rights: Fundamental human rights for all. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 20(1), 3-11. https://doi.org/10.1080/17549507.2018.1428687
Ponciano-Villafania, J. (2018). Feasibility of Telerehabilitation in the Service Delivery of Speech-Language Pathology in the Philippines.
Written by: Paolo Capati, Jen Leynes, Kyla Lu, Paula Tison