Whether you work in the schools alongside behavioral therapists to address communication issues stemming from autism, or work with occupational therapists in rehabilitation to help elderly patients recover from a recent stroke, as a speech-language pathologist you will have an opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the lives of the individuals you serve.
Getting involved with the SLP community in Nebraska is an important step as you become licensed. The Nebraska Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NSLHA) offers scholarship opportunities for graduate students in SLP programs, continuing education credits for licensed practitioners, and the opportunity to connect with other practitioners in the field.
Through NSLHA conventions or workshops, you may be able to learn about current issues in the field, such as somatosensory patterns and neuro-therapeutic change across the lifespan, how to treat school-age stuttering disorders, treatment of complex pulmonary patients, and regulatory updates on what services Medicaid covers.
In addition to the growing number of accredited online options available, there are three universities in Nebraska offering graduate SLP programs that are accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Among them is the University of Nebraska’s Barkley Speech Language and Hearing Clinic in Lincoln, where students are able to shadow licensed practitioners, learn the fundamental clinical and diagnostic processes of speech therapy, and earn clinical hours while working with clients.
You’ll earn your SLP license through the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services Board of Audiology & Speech Language Pathology by following the steps described in this guide:
Step 1. Complete a Speech-Language Pathology Master’s Degree
You’ll need to graduate with a master’s or higher degree from a program accredited by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) in order to become licensed in Nebraska.
You may choose from three accredited, in-state institutions or choose from a variety of accredited online programs. While in-state programs may offer benefits such as scholarship opportunities from state-sponsored organizations, online programs offer flexibility and the ability to choose from a greater number of options.
To be eligible for a graduate program, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree and a record of high academic performance. You’ll usually need to submit:
- At least two letters of academic reference
- GRE scores
- Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0
You’ll also be expected to have completed prerequisites such as the science of language, fundamentals of communicative disorders, and introduction to audiology. If you haven’t covered these basic courses in your undergraduate program, you’ll need to complete these prerequisites (usually 14-18 credits) in order to be prepared for graduate-level coursework. Other prerequisites can include:
- Clinical and Diagnostic Procedures in SLP
- Articulation Disorders
- Phonological Disorders
- Aphasia Management and Treatment
- Neurological Foundations of Speech
Your core coursework will prepare you to assess, treat and diagnose patients. You’ll study:
- Advanced Phonology
- Normal Language Development
- Research Methodology
- Language Disorders in Special Populations
- Voice Disorders
- Evidence-based practice
- Speech and Language Development of the Hearing Impaired
- Fluency Disorders
Electives might include the following topics:
- Linguistic Needs of Bilingual Students
- Special Topics in Human Sciences
- Counseling and Behavior Issues
- Clinical Decision Making
- Speech Perception and Processing
- Swallowing Disorders
- Cleft Palate Issues
- Right Hemisphere Dysfunction
- Aphasia in Adults
After completing core coursework, you’ll begin a practicum. During your practicum, you’ll first shadow a licensed SLP working in a clinic, and then begin to complete supervised activities with patients, learning how to assess, diagnose and treat speech disorders.
Step 2. Complete a Supervised Required Professional Experience (RPE) Program
Now that you’ve graduated with your master’s degree in communicative sciences and disorders, you’ll enter into a transition period between your education and career known as a clinical fellowship.
This time of supervised professional experience must be 36 weeks of full-time work (defined as at least 35 hours per week), or you may complete a part-time program that consists of 15-19 hours per week for 72 weeks.
A supervising practitioner licensed through the Nebraska Board of Audiology & Speech Language Pathology must monitor all of your professional activities in the clinic. During this time, you’ll work directly with patients, provide consultations with patients and families, and assist in record keeping. You’ll manage treatment programs for patients, monitor and evaluate patient exercises, and participate in feedback sessions with your supervisor about your clinical performance.
The director of your graduate program may be able to refer you to clinics in your area that are looking for recent graduates to fill clinical fellowship positions, or you may look for opportunities in your area here.
Step 3. Pass the National Examination in Speech-Language Pathology
Once you’ve completed your required professional experience, the only thing standing between you and being fully licensed is passing the National Examination in Speech-Language Pathology through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Administered through the Educational Testing Service provider Praxis, you may register for the test online.
The test is made up of 132 questions covering key topics within communicative sciences and disorders, such as:
- Foundations of Practice
- Screening Patients
- Approaches to Assessment and Evaluation
- Assessment Procedures
- Treatment Planning and Evaluation
Praxis offers test prep materials to help you prepare for the exam.
There are seven Praxis test centers located in cities throughout Nebraska:
Upon passing the exam you would be eligible to apply for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) through ASHA. You won’t need it to be licensed in Nebraska, but you may want to gain the certification to add credibility to your resume, especially when starting your job search in the field.
You may apply for the CCC-SLP here.
Step 4. Apply for Licensing Through the Nebraska Board of Audiology & Speech Language Pathology
You’re ready to apply for licensing through Nebraska Board of Audiology & Speech Language Pathology after receiving your passing score on the national exam.
You’ll need to provide the following materials:
- Licensing Application
- Official graduate transcript
- Passing score on the national exam
- Proof of completion of a clinical fellowship
You can mail these documents to the board at:
Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Public Health – Licensure Unit
P.O. Box 94986 – Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4986
Join the Clinic That Provided Postgraduate Clinical Experience
You might consider joining the clinic that provided your required professional experience. This is often a good option because you’ll already have built relationships with the staff and patients.
Contact your clinical fellowship supervisor for more details.
Consider Starting an Independent Practice
You might consider starting an independent practice in the state, or you may start a partnership with another SLP. If you want to work flexible hours, set your own schedule, or dedicate your career to working with a specific patient population like young people with autism, this may be the route for you.
Pursue Job Openings in Nebraska
You might pursue job openings in schools, clinics, hospitals, or home health care. A few of the top employers of SLPs in the state include:
- Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital
- EDU Healthcare
- Key Rehab
- Dysphagia Management Systems
- CHI Health at Home
- Pediatric Therapy Center
- Children’s Respite Care Center
- Reliant Rehabilitation
- Select Specialty Hospital
- Physician’s Choice Home Health Care
- Global Teletherapy
- Physmed Home Health
- Aureus Medical Group
Step 5. Renew Your License and Complete Continuing Competency Credits
In Nebraska, you’ll need to renew your license every two years (on even-numbered years.) You’ll receive a renewal notice at least a month before you’re required to renew.
You’ll also need to complete twenty hours of continuing education each renewal period.
According to the board, these continuing education credits can be completed through:
- Academic coursework (one credit hour is equal to 15 contact hours)
- Independent study (a maximum of 10 hours per renewal period)
You’ll need to submit certificates of completion, outlines of presentations, or transcripts to the board.