Working abroad is a great option for SLPs who are qualified and want a little adventure in their SLP careers. As an Australian who has moved abroad to the US to work, here are my 5 reasons to do the same thing!
1. A deeper clinical understanding
Having studied speech-language pathology in the UK and working in both Australia and America, I have discovered that each country have their own ‘local’ academia and programs that may not have crossed oceans! I was amazed that many American SLPs had not heard of the Lidcombe Program for stuttering, whereas I lived and breathed it as most of the researchers lived in my city! Similarly in the UK, I was introduced to some amazing speech and language textbooks that were not even mentioned when I did my Masters back in Australia. Working abroad has allowed me to expand my clinical understanding and have access to great new local research.
2. New models of service delivery
I read on ASHA that over 50% of SLPs in America work in the school setting. This is something I would never have had the opportunity to do in my state in Australia as we don’t have SLPs in the schools! Different countries do things differently in regards to their access of SLP services. If you ever want to do something completely different within the SLP field, changing the model of service delivery will totally transform your practice. From family centred to the medical setting, early intervention, disability to working within a transdisciplinary team… there is so much more to learn and add to your skills that working abroad can offer.
3. Cultural Experience
The allure of working abroad – particularly for those countries in the MRA agreement – is that you already speak the same language and know a bit about the country and culture from movies, TV, advertisements and your aunt who once visited there. It is likely that you will not completely suffer from culture shock and the way of living will be relatively similar… yet different! There will be new vocabulary to share and learn, accents to understand and local foods to try. A lot of American’s love to ask me about Vegemite and kangaroos and other little bits and pieces that they know about my culture, and I’ll ask about theirs!
Most SLPs who work abroad primarily make that plane trip because they want a little adventure to spice up their SLP lives! Working abroad satisfies my Sagittarius need for adventure. When you move to a different country, there are so many discoveries to be had that it makes your life feel exciting. One year into living in America I have ticked so many amazing travels off my list, and am planning what I want to achieve the next year, because I have a 2 year visa and want to get the most out of my time! For me, it is a stimulating way to live.
In my perspective, having a solid network of professionals who you can contact and rely upon for various needs is an essential. I try to make an effort to keep in touch with a range of allied health professionals and managers who I have worked with for a number of reasons. It makes me feel supported, I can share and spread information and I just genuinely like to keep in touch with inspiring professionals! It is also a great way to know what other people are doing in their field, help out others when they need you and is a ‘desired skill’ I have discussed many times in job interviews.