Visit Mentors' Round Table to read our interviews of women in the fields of science and health. These are women of varying levels of experience and backgrounds, brought to the table to answer your questions about everything from work-life balance to financial management. Read on, be inspired, and leave them (and us!) a comment!
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Speech Language Pathology is a very popular field for women. Many people enjoy working with others to helping them improve their speech and communication. The interview below features a Medical Speech Language Pathologist who is finishing up her clinical Fellowship. We hope it helps interested members learn a little more about what it is like to train in this field.
Where are you in your career (training, practicing, residency etc)?
I am currently finishing up my Clinical Fellowship year, meaning that I am finished all my schooling and externships but I need to work one year full time to receive my certification of clinical competence.
How did you choose your career?
I always wanted to do something medical. I also always wanted to have a large family and be there for them. I considered medical school, but realized that it would not be possible to raise my children the way I wanted to were I to become a doctor. So this was my compromise. There are no emergencies or late hours, it is possible to work part time, and the pay is good.
Were there any obstacles you had to face in your training or later career?
Yes, juggling schooling, externships, and having/raising babies was a real challenge. Thank G-d, I married an angel.
Have there been any problems in your work life or training that have arisen because of your religion?
Kind of. I need to take off for holidays/Shabbos, and I have babies pretty often, both of which are things that make secular bosses edgy. I compensate for this by working my head off, and being there when my colleagues can’t be (I.e. secular holidays). I occasionally work on Sundays, and I am always available to take over when they are short on staff. I make sure to show everyone that I take my work very seriously, so that they see that it is worth the trade-off.
How do you handle ethical questions that arise?
At this point, I still have a supervisor, so I refer anything problematic to her. Occasionally, if I feel there is a need, I run questions by my Rabbi, who is very familiar with medical ethics.
What do you like best about your career? What do you like least?
I love the work I do – I hate the long hours and not having off in the summer (or ever - I need to use vacation days for Yom Tov [holidays] and when my kids are sick.) But I was aware of that when I decided not to work in the school system. Everything is a trade-off.
Are you married?
Yes, B”H (Thank G-d) very happily.
Do you have children, how many?
How do you balance family and work life?
I make sure to make every minute at home with my family count. This means spending more on cleaning help so that I can focus on my kids from the second I walk in the door.
What does your spouse think about your career?
He is totally on board, and helps a ton so that I can do what I do. He constantly tells me how grateful he is that I share in the bread winning burden. He feels that he was only able to pursue his dream of learning many years and then working in klei kodesh (Jewish learning, education and spiritual professions) because I make such a nice salary. He is amazingly supportive, and I just feel so lucky to be able to love what I do and be able to sustain our family at the same time. He could have gone on to get a PhD himself, but he is truly devoted to the klal (community) instead, and I admire him endlessly for that. We work well together.
What does your family think about your career?
I’ve gotten pretty mixed responses, but most think I’m nuts. I got over it.
How do/did you handle the financial stress of training?
I am very lucky to have parents who were able (and generous enough!) to pay for my schooling in full, so I am and have always been, thank G-d, debt-free. We do have to tighten our belts occasionally when we need to rely solely on my husband’s salary – like when I was doing externships, but that’s OK too. We are not such big spenders, anyway.
Are things turning out the way you planned or are they different? Is your career different than what you expected when you chose it?
It’s pretty much what I thought it would be.
Do you have any advice for students aspiring to be where you are?
Well, I just got out of it myself, so I’d say – hang in there, the schooling is hard, and the beginning is tough, but it only gets better!
Is there anything you would change?
No, I’m really happy with my career, although I can’t wait ‘till I get my certification, so that I can make more money in less hours and hopefully be home more often.
Do you have any role models you look up to?
My husband. I want to be just like him when I grow up!