New Mexico is filled with a variety of opportunities for speech-language pathologists to serve patients with communication handicaps, whether it be through the school systems, clinics, or hospitals. With so many opportunities, the state is an excellent place to seek an SLP position—in fact, according to a 2015 report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Mexico has the second-highest concentration of SLP jobs of all the states in the country.
You’ll have the chance to choose from a variety of accredited online programs or one of the three universities in New Mexico that are accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and offer graduate degrees in speech-language pathology. One of the accredited schools, New Mexico State University, was ranked on U.S. New & World Report’s 2016 list of the best grad schools for SLP in the nation.
Graduate SLP programs are designed not only to teach you the fundamentals of language development and speech therapy, but to help you discover which patient populations you’d like to serve. For example, New Mexico State University (NMSU) offers graduate SLP students the opportunity to participate in international travel courses which allow them to provide speech therapy services to underprivileged populations in third-world countries. In 2014, a group of graduate SLP students from NMSU traveled to Lima, Peru, to complete clinical hours and serve patients with communication handicaps who do not have access to specialized health care providers.
Serving speech therapy patients in another country isn’t the only way to gain hands-on experience—you might also work with patients through an on-campus clinic. Another accredited school, Eastern New Mexico University, is home to a Speech and Hearing Rehabilitation Outreach Center (SHROC) in which students are able to gain clinical experience and offer quality speech-language pathology services to the general public.
If you choose to work with specialized patients, such as children and adults with autism, you may connect with state organizations such as the New Mexico Autism Society, an organization which connects autistic individuals with appropriate healthcare providers, such as speech-language pathologists.
In order to earn your SLP license through the New Mexico Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology, and Hearing Aid Dispensers Practices Board, follow the steps below:
Step 1. Complete an Accredited Graduate Program in Speech-Language Pathology
You’ll need to earn your master’s degree or higher before becoming licensed as a speech-language pathologist. To apply to a master’s program, you’ll need:
- GRE scores
- A 3.0 or higher GPA
- At least two academic references
If you don’t have a background in communicative sciences and disorders, you may need more references and volunteer experience to be accepted to a graduate program, and you’ll need to complete prerequisites.
Prerequisites usually include:
- English Phonetics
- Anatomy and Physiology of Human Communication
- Intro to Audiology
- Intro to Communication Sciences
- Aural Rehabilitation Methods
- Neural Basis of Communication
- Pre-Clinical Training
If you have already completed a bachelor’s degree in communicative sciences and disorders, chances are that you’ve taken all the required prerequisites during your undergraduate study. You’ll be able to start taking your core courses, which will likely include:
- Clinical Practice
- Research Reading and Writing
- Adult Neurogenic Communicative Disorders
- Dysphagia Management and Treatment
- Voice Disorders
- Motor Speech Disorders
- Augmentative Communication
- Assessing language in children
- Intervention: Child Language Disorders
Electives will focus on specific patient populations, current trends in speech-language pathology, awareness of legislative issues, or other specialized topics. They might include:
- Multi-Cultural Considerations in Communication Disorders
- Medical Speech-Language Pathology
- Fluency Disorders
- Cleft Palate Disorders
- Craniofacial Disorders
You’ll also need to complete a practicum during your graduate program. Usually completed within your last year, you’ll shadow a licensed SLP in a clinic or hospital setting and learn how to complete clinical and diagnostic procedures.
Step 2. Begin a Clinical Fellowship Program
You’ll now enter into a transitional period known as a clinical fellowship. To become a clinical fellow, you’ll need to apply with the New Mexico board. The application will require you to complete a jurisprudence examination that consists of true/false questions about the rules and regulations that govern New Mexico SLPs.
If you need to prepare for the jurisprudence examination, you may review New Mexico’s rules and regulations which govern SLPs.
Along with the application, you’ll also need to submit:
- $60 fee
- Official transcripts
- Clinical fellow plan completed by your clinical fellowship supervisor
Once you’re licensed, you may begin the clinical fellowship. You’ll generally fulfill this requirement by working 30 or more hours a week for nine months, but you might also choose to work part-time for as long as 12 months, as long as you work 15 hours or more a week.
You’ll need to complete certain activities, including assessing, monitoring, evaluating, diagnosing, and treating patients. You’ll work with your supervisor to develop a plan for your clinical fellowship time and the skills you’ll need to learn.
You’ll need to be monitored in at least 36 different occasions, including working with patients, providing consultations to patients’ families, and providing evaluation of documentation such as case histories and treatment reports.
Once you’ve completed your clinical fellowship, you’ll be able to register for the National Examination in Speech-Language Pathology.
Step 3. Pass the National SLP Exam and Consider Earning the CCC-SLP Credential
You’ll need to pass the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) National Examination in Speech Language Pathology, hosted through Praxis, in order to become licensed.
You can register online for the exam.
The exam is made up of 132 questions and is computer-based. You’ll need to score at least a 162 out of 200 possible points in order to pass.
There are several Praxis test centers in New Mexico, located in:
- Las Cruces
- Santa Fe
The test is split into three sections with 44 questions each. The sections are:
- Foundations and Professional Practice
- Screening, Assessment, Evaluation, and Diagnosis
- Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Treatment
You’ll need to have a thorough knowledge of the following topics, which will be covered on the exam:
- Wellness and prevention
- Counseling, collaboration, and teaming in professional practice
- Ethical practice
- Legislation and client advocacy
- Research methodology
- Feeding and swallowing disorders
- Voice, resonance and motor speech
- Receptive and expressive language
- Social aspects of communication
- Genetic and developmental factors
- Neurological issues
- Auditory problems
- Structural and functional handicaps
If you need extra preparation for the test, you might choose to review practice questions in the Praxis SLP Study Companion.
Once you’ve passed the exam, you have the choice to apply for the CCC-SLP credential by submitting an application directly to ASHA. You won’t need to earn the CCC-SLP credential to become licensed in New Mexico, but it may be helpful to you as you start your career, especially if you plan to practice independently.
Step 4. Apply for Licensing and Begin Practicing as a Speech-Language Pathologist
At this point, you may apply for licensure through the New Mexico SLP board.
You’ll need to print and fill out the application and submit it to the board with:
- Official graduate transcript
- Clinical Fellowship Rating and Report Form
- Passing scores on the Praxis exam
- Licensure and application fee of $110.00
Please allow one-two weeks to hear back from the board. Once you’ve received your license, you may start your career in one of several ways:
Work Under Your Clinical Fellowship Supervisor
You may choose to pursue a job at the clinic where you completed your clinical fellowship. If you enjoyed working with the clinic’s staff and patients, contact your clinical fellowship supervisor to inquire about opportunities for a full-time position.
Open an Independent Practice or Partnership
You also may open an independent practice or start a partnership with another licensed SLP. An independent practice may be the right choice for you if you want to specialize in a specific patient population or if you wish to treat clients in their homes.
Pursue Job Openings in New Mexico
You’ll have no shortage of job opportunities in New Mexico. SLPs are needed in the school system, in hospitals, in clinics, and in home health care services all across the state. A few examples of potential employers include:
- Children’s Medical Center
- Cooperative Educational Services
- Department of Veterans Affairs
- Presbyterian Medical Services
- Mimbres Memorial Hospital
- Rio Rancho Public Schools
- Reliant Rehabilitation
- Christus Health
- VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region
- Santa Fe Public Schools
- New Vistas
- Gentiva Health Services
- Rio Rancho Center
- MECA Therapies
Step 5. Renew Your License Annually and Complete Continuing Education Requirements
You’ll need to renew your license every year, and you’ll need to complete 20 continuing education credits every two years. You may also choose to complete all twenty continuing education hours in one year.
You’ll be able to renew your license online, and you’ll receive a mailed renewal notice at least 30 days before the renewal date, which is January 30th of each year.
Approved CE hours come from the New Mexico Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NMSHA) and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), though you may appeal to the board if you feel that another provider is appropriate. You’ll need to mail a continuing education appeal form to the board if you’d like to pursue a continuing education course from a provider other than the NMSHA or the ASHA.
Your appeal form will explain who the provider is, give the provider’s resume and credentials, and include the date and time of the course offering.