Speech-language pathologists have the opportunity to reach a variety of patient populations, whether it be those on the autistic spectrum or children or adults who have lost vocal capacity due to diseases such as cancer. Missouri’s recent legislative changes have made the state’s practice environment more friendly towards SLPs.
Missouri has eight ASHA-accredited institutions that offer SLP master’s degrees, so you’ll be able to choose from a variety of programs and select one that’s right for you. One of the universities, Fontbonne University, has its own Speech, Language and Hearing clinic located on its campus.
You might choose to connect with other SLPs in Missouri through state-sponsored organizations such as the Missouri Speech-Language-Hearing Association (MSHA). The MSHA aims to keep SLPs in the state aware of the most current educational technology and inform them of legislative actions in the state that affect speech-language pathology practice.
You might also choose to pursue continuing education through MSHA’s workshops and seminars, which might include topics such as emotional regulation for speech therapy patients, enhancing literacy and language skills while addressing speech sound disorders, and how to treat apraxia in children.
In 2015, Missouri governor Jay Nixon signed a bill to modify laws relating to the licensing of speech-language pathologists and audiologists in the state. This law allowed for fewer restrictions for SLP practice, and allows SLPs seeking a clinical fellowship in the state to practice under a full license.
You’ll be issued your license from the Advisory Commission for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists. You may follow the guide below to begin your journey towards becoming an SLP:
Step 1. Complete an Accredited Graduate Program in Speech-Language Pathology
The Missouri SLP board will require you to complete a master’s degree from an ASHA-accredited institution. In order to be accepted into a graduate program, you’ll usually need:
- A bachelor’s degree
- An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0
- GRE scores
- A resume of your experience in the field
- At least two academic references
Missouri offers eight programs accredited by ASHA, and you might also choose to pursue an online master’s degree from an accredited institution. Online programs will cover the same material as a traditional program through filmed lectures and online problem modules. You’ll need to complete practicum hours in clinics located near you.
You won’t need a background in speech-language pathology to be accepted into a graduate program, but you will need to complete prerequisites if you haven’t covered the material in your undergraduate work. These include:
- Fundamentals of Speech-Language Pathology
- Basics of Linguistics
- Intro to Augmentative/Alternative Communication
- Treating Dysphagia
- SLP Services in the Medical Setting
- Anatomy and Physiology of Speech
After completing prerequisites, you’ll move into core classes, which will discuss more advanced topics in speech-language pathology, such as:
- How Hearing Impairments Relate to Development
- Early Intervention
- Normal Language Acquisition
- Common Language Disorders in Children
- Language and Speech Development
- Cognitive-Linguistic Disorders
- Phonological Disorders
Electives might include:
- Sign Language
- Auditory Development
- Instructional Strategies
- Reading for the Hard of Hearing
- Counseling in SLP
- Amplification Systems
- Acoustic Phonetics
- Physiological Phonetics
- Development and Diversity
- Intervention of Voice, Speech and Swallowing Disorders
You’ll also need to gain hands-on experience with speech patients through a clinical practicum. This usually takes place during the last year of the program. You’ll shadow a licensed SLP, learning all of the clinical and diagnostic procedures that are critical to the field.
Step 2. Register for and Pass the National Exam on Speech-Language Pathology
Prior to 2015, Missouri SLP candidates were required to complete a clinical fellowship before registering for the National Examination on Speech-Language Pathology.
However, according to new legislation, you’ll now need to register for the exam after completing a graduate program, and complete your clinical fellowship after becoming fully licensed.
The exam is hosted through Praxis. You may register online.
The test is meant to judge your level of competency in the disciplines of speech-language pathology, and will cover many of the topics that you studied during your graduate work.
The test is made up of 132 questions, is split into three sections, and is graded on a 100-200 scale. You’ll need a 162 to pass.
Some topics that the exam covers are:
- Factors that influence communication, feeding and swallowing
- Epidemiology and characteristics of common communication disorders
- Typical language development across the lifespan
- Wellness and prevention
- Culturally and linguistically appropriate service delivery
- Counseling, collaboration, and teaming
- Documentation of patient reports
- Developing case histories
- Assessing speech sound production
- Assessing voice, resonance, and motor speech
If you’d like to prepare with practice questions, the Praxis study companion is a helpful guide.
You can take the exam in one of 13 Praxis test centers located through Missouri, in these cities:
- West Plains
- Lees Summit
- Kansas City
- Jefferson City
- Cape Girardeau
Step 3. Apply for Licensing and Begin Practicing as a Speech-Language Pathologist
Since Missouri no longer requires SLP candidates to complete a clinical fellowship before becoming licensed, you’ll be eligible to apply for licensure once you pass the national exam.
You’ll need to prepare the following documents:
- Licensing application, signed and notarized
- Application fee of $50.00
- Passport photograph
- Official graduate transcript
- Proof of passage of the national examination
- Copy of your social security card
You can mail your application and supporting documents to:
State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts
3605 Missouri Boulevard
P.O. Box 4
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0004
At this point, you might consider earning your Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology through ASHA.
To become certified, you’ll need to complete a nine-month clinical fellowship. The clinical fellowship will involve completing clinical and diagnostic procedures under the supervision of a licensed SLP
If you don’t wish to become certified, you might consider:
Opening an Independent Practice
As a fully-licensed SLP, you may choose to open an independent practice or partnership. If you don’t wish to work in the school system or in local clinics or hospitals, this is a good option for you. Running an independent practice lets you focus on therapeutic methods that you find most beneficial for your patients.
Pursuing Job Openings in Missouri
You might also consider a career with one of Missouri’s many SLP employers. Just a few of these include:
- Powderly and Associates
- Oxford Health Care
- Therapeutic Playtime
- Therapy Relief, Inc.
- Dot Com Therapy
- Cox Health
- Oxford Healthcare
- Mercy Healthcare
- BJC Healthcare
- Liberty Hospital
- Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics
- Saint Luke’s Health System
- Heartland Health
- CenterPoint Medical Center
Step 4. Maintain Licensure and Complete Continuing Education Requirements
The Missouri SLP board requires that you renew your license every two years with proof of 24 credits of continuing education.
You can renew your license online.
Continuing education may be completed through the ASHA, the MSHA, or any other national or state-sponsored organization.