I study speech pathology: Meredith Munnoch

29 May 2018
What it's like studying speech pathology
Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology) student Meredith Munnoch takes us behind-the-scenes of life as a health sciences student, discussing her lectures, career aspirations and favourite subjects.
Meredith Munnoch

Why did you choose your degree?

I had never heard of speech pathology before looking at the UAC handbook! I always knew that I wanted a career where I could help people, and speech pathology has turned out to be exactly that!

I chose speech pathology because I wanted to pursue a career where I could form relationships with and help people. I also really enjoyed science and languages during high school, and this degree seemed like the perfect mix of the two.

I was really excited to have received an offer for speech pathology! By the time the offers came out, I had done more background research about what speech pathologists do and I was really looking forward to start my journey to become one!

What was your favourite subject at high school?

My favourite subject at high school was Biology, which actually helped me a lot with the anatomy and physiology in the first few years of my speech pathology degree.

What's your favourite unit you're currently studying at uni?

One of my favourite subjects at uni was my Introductory Practice unit in 2nd year where I was paired with a 4th year student. We worked as a team to provide intervention for a preschool aged client at the university's own clinic. It was such a great way to be gently introduced to speech pathology intervention with the support of a more experienced student.

What does your typical day at uni look like?

My typical day at uni is pretty full! In general, you're at uni for at least 3 days per week. In the first year, your days are mainly filled with classes where you learn the theoretical foundations of anatomy, physiology and cognition that you'll need to understand the specific practice areas of speech pathology in later units.

As the degree progresses, more and more practical elements (e.g. observations and placements) are introduced and the theoretical classes decrease so that you get lots of experience before graduating. Doing an Honours Research Project, I also have quite a bit of extra work as I'm collecting data, meeting with supervisors and writing a research paper.

It may sound like a lot, but being at uni all day gives you the perfect opportunity to build friendships with your cohort over lunch and a nap in the sun.

What surprised you most about this degree?

I have been surprised at how my measure of success has changed. In high school, I was fairly obsessed with gauging my success by comparing my achievements to those of others. However, during this degree, I have been challenged to move my focus off myself and onto my clients. I have come to measure my success not through my academic achievements, but through the progress and satisfaction of my clients.

How does university compare to high school?

I feel that my university experience has mirrored some of the best aspects of high school. In speech pathology, your cohort remains together for the majority of your classes, which allows you to develop strong friendships and important support networks. However, in some ways, I have found the cohort dynamic and very different to that of high school. Instead of competing with each other, we have constantly supported each other with the common goal of providing a high level of care to our clients.

What are your classmates like?

I feel that my cohort shares many common values, which has allowed us to develop wonderful friendships. These friendships have been one of the best parts of studying speech pathology. My cohort has been such an important source of encouragement and support throughout the degree.

What are your lecturers like?

Our lecturers have been wonderful! The majority of them have been practicing speech pathologists, which has allowed their personal passions for the profession to enrich their teaching. I have been deeply inspired by many of my lecturers' genuine love and drive for providing the best care for their clients.

Have you been involved in anything outside the classroom?

Yes, of course! Speech pathology immerses you in a range of real-life contexts where you could be working one day. My off-campus placements have been some of the best experiences of my life! I have learnt so much about different areas of speech pathology, which has only grown my love of the profession.

What are your future career plans?

I would love to join a multidisciplinary team in a hospital to support people whose lives have been impacted by swallowing and communication difficulties due to stroke, brain injury, dementia and degenerative disease. I can't wait to get out there and be involved in supporting people during their often difficult journeys to recovery.

Any advice for someone who is thinking about applying for speech pathology?

Go for it! Four years may seem like a long time to commit to studying something, but I am certain that you will come out the other side so happy that you did. You will be challenged, grown and most importantly, inspired and equipped to help others.