CQU speech pathology student is inspired to help others find their voice

01 January 2021

Communicating with the world is a vital part of life and something most people take for granted' which is why CQUniversity Bachelor of Speech Pathology student Suzie Hutchings decided to dedicate her career to help those who suffer from communication and swallowing difficulties.

"Seeing a patient's progress and achieving their goals makes me feel so happy and proud of them' as I know that they have worked hard and can use these new skills to help them each day'" she explained.

"We do so much more than just help people to talk.

"Without communication' you lose your identity and social connections as you cannot communicate your thoughts' feelings' needs and wants with others.

"Our role is also incredibly important for safety. We help people swallow safely so that people can enjoy eating and drinking without causing risks of getting sick. People can become malnourished or lung infections from food and drink entering the lungs."

At only 16 years old' Miss Hutchings explained she fell into her dream career by chance after completing work experience at a rural hospital.

"When I completed my work experience in Year 11 of high school' I worked in the allied health department. This allowed me to observe physiotherapists' occupational therapists' dieticians' and other allied health workers' however' the speech pathology profession stood out to me.

"I enjoyed the variety of the speech pathology profession. I also loved watching the speech pathology working with people to help them have the best possible outcome."

Now four years later and about to enter her final year of study' the Rockhampton resident explained she has been exposed to a world of opportunity through her studies.

"My lecturers provide one-on-one support as we have small cohorts and I have enjoyed the many placements I have had the opportunity to experience'" Miss Hutchings said.

"I just completed a placement at a children's hospital in Brisbane where I leant from the outpatient cleft and craniofacial speech pathology team.

"I was able to assess the speech' language and voice of children with cleft lip' palate and/or craniofacial anomalies. I also provide therapy to these children that require cleft-specific speech and voice intervention.

"It was an eye-opening experience to be in a team of orthodontists' plastic surgeons' Ear Nose Throat doctors' cleft-specialist nurses' and paediatricians."

With a high demand for Speech Pathology graduates in the future' Miss Hutchings was excited to see where the profession could take her.

"Speech Pathologists work in hospitals' schools' private practice' nursing homes' youth justice' mental health facilities' and more' so the career prospects are endless'" she said.

"The beauty of the speech pathology profession is that you can have a job in a specialised area or a generalist position. I love working with children' but I equally love working with adults so I think a generalist position is where I can get the best of both worlds.

"Whether I am working with newborn babies or people who at the end of their life' I want to help as many people reach their goals as possible."