Thursday, October 26, 2017 - 14:00

If you’ve ever wondered what it is like to study speech pathology, and where those studies could take you, pull up a chair.

Professor Liz Ward from The University of Queensland’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences currently holds a joint position as a Professor of Speech Pathology at UQ, as well as Professor of the Centre for Functioning Disability and Health Research within the Metro South Hospital and Health Service at Queensland Health.

We caught up with her for a Q&A in anticipation of this month’s celebration of 55 years of speech pathology at UQ.

UQ: What inspired you to get into speech pathology?

LW: Unlike some, I was one of those students who was not really certain it was the career for me until I did my first adult placement, then I was hooked! I knew then that I wanted to work with adults in hospital services, and 25 years later that’s the clinical group upon which I have focused my entire career.

UQ: What is your area of expertise/favourite topic within the field?

LW: My main area of expertise is speech and swallowing management of patients with head and neck cancer. I am also very passionate about improving critical and intensive care services and tracheostomy management. It’s the complex medical conditions and the challenge of making a difference to recovery patterns in the hospital and health environment that are a real interest area for me.

In addition to those clinical areas I love health services research in general, and developing new services and models of care, such as telehealth, which are changing practice and improving the patient experience.

UQ: What has been the best moment of your career so far?

LW: I am incredibly fortunate as I have had many. From a research perspective, seeing the many research initiatives I have led become part of routine clinical care is the greatest reward. 

From a personal perspective it was the recent honour of presenting the Chris O’Brien Oration at the Australia and New Zealand Head and Neck Cancer Society conference. It was a lovely acknowledgement of the research profile that speech pathology has in this field, and recognition of the important role speech pathology has in head and neck cancer care. 

UQ: What would you say to a person considering a career in speech pathology?

LW: Do it! But bring your A-game and always be the best you can, and understand that being a consumer of, and engaging in, clinical research will be an integral part of being a speech pathologist.

UQ: What are some of the lesser known career paths that a qualification in speech pathology could lead to?

LW: I once met a woman who had been a speech pathologist and had then gone on to use her skills in linguistics and phonetics to work as a speech analyst for an international law enforcement agency.

 

Media: Jo Hickman jo.hickman@uq.edu.au 07 3346 3037