There is a lot of variety in speech-language pathology. One can specialize by population (adults versus pediatrics; and even pediatrics can be broken down into birth to three, early childhood, and school-age), or by disorder (although jobs that focus on even one or two disorders are more difficult to come by).

I am all over the place, I work with adults, with children, with swallowing, early childhood language, phonological disorders, aphasia, cognition…and the list goes on. A question comes to me a lot: Can I do the best I can, give the best therapy and information possible, when I see so many types of patients? (The giant thought-bubble that hangs over my head during therapy where I’m not sure where I’m going with a patient: “AM I PROVIDING EBP?”)

I am undecided on this question. I do not want to accuse therapists who do work across a variety of different orders of doing a bad job. I like to think I do a good job, although I think I can do better. (This is probably because I haven’t been SLPing for very long.) And I also don’t want to deny my colleagues one of the cool things about our field: that there’s so much to learn, so many different opportunities, and one can change the course of their career to fit their interest or lifestyle.

But when I talk to other SLPs who have been focusing their energies on one area, or a much smaller area, for a long time, their knowledge on a particular subject amazes me and makes me wish I could have that much knowledge about things. (Well, let’s get real, I would love to have that kind of knowledge about All The Things SLP, but that’s probably not possible.) I don’t know if I could ever know as much as I should about all the different disorders I see now. Maybe I don’t have enough years of practice and perspective on this to know if it is possible. Sometimes I feel like there is outside pressure for me to do All The Things SLP. Again, this might be my Type A personality projecting my stress of being a new SLP onto my daily life.

What do you think? Do you think it is better for professionals and our profession as a whole to specialize? Is it better to be a sort of SLP-of-all-trades? Does anyone have advice for reconciling a Type A personality with the expectation of doing All The Things SLP? Is it even realistic to expect everyone to specialize? Is it nice in our field that some people can specialize if they choose to, while others seek out the jobs that require therapy for a variety of individual with various disorders?