Without her start in the public health sector more than 20 years ago, Speech Pathologist Claire Stanley said she would never have been able to work successfully in private practice.
“Monash Health has given me the opportunity to develop specialised skills I would not have otherwise had exposure to, particularly in managing complex swallowing conditions, voice and upper airway disorders,” she said.
“Now, as a private clinician, I have been able to have such a broad exposure to different caseloads in the public sector that clinicians who go straight into the private sector don’t get the opportunity to experience and learn from.”
Claire has been able to work on a variety of complex caseloads since starting at Monash Health 14 years ago, including neurological, respiratory, critical care, ear, nose and throat (ENT) conditions, and more.
“I now have extended scope of practice skills I’ve accrued from the public system and brought to my private work,” she said.
“I’ve even been able to build a private practice with some of the professionals I’ve met through Monash Health, and that comes from working alongside them in the public sector and them also acquiring similar advanced skillsets.”
Claire has been working in private practice for eight years now, but said she still chooses to also work at Monash Health to this day.
“You can be a bit isolated in the private sector when it comes to professional support, whereas in the public, you’re a part of a multidisciplinary team who helps motivate you and are equally very impressive professionally,” she said.
“You get to learn from the best in the business who are the experts in their fields and work alongside them, so I’m constantly learning from all health disciplines.”
Speech pathologists work with patients with communication and swallowing disorders.
In a hospital setting, they assess patients recovering from stroke, head and neck surgery, neurological disease, or respiratory conditions, including patients with a tracheostomy, to determine the best treatment and rehabilitation options for any swallowing or communication impairments they may have acquired.
“It’s really rewarding to be the person who restores someone’s ability to communicate after a major operation or being able to help someone swallow again after a stroke, which are both fundamental to someone’s recovery,” Claire said.
From working with babies in the NICU to elderly patients in aged care, Claire said there was no lack of diversity in terms of what you can do as a speech pathologist at Monash Health.
“It’s almost like getting a new job every time you swap caseloads. The workload is so broad and varied within the hospital and you can bring new skills with you each time you change,” she said.
“Education is a big part of your role in a hospital as well. We all help each other learn about what the other professions are doing, and what is important to them when treating patients, so we can work together as a team.”
For fresh graduates out of university, Claire said she strongly encouraged them to consider getting their start in the public sector, rather than going straight into private work.
“I worry we may not retain them in the profession if they don’t see just how broad and rewarding speech pathology can be and if they don’t have the opportunity to learn from experienced clinicians in public spaces,” she said.
“They really should come and experience both worlds or work in the public space while they’re starting out in the profession so they can learn from the teams working in all these specialty areas.
“The private sector is always going to be there, and by then, they’ll have had the time to develop their professional skills and enter the private sector with a unique set of skills and experiences.”
Despite the success of her own practice, Claire said she had no intention of ever stopping her work in the public health sector.
“I think they give two different opportunities, perspectives and experiences,” she said.
“You can absolutely have both.”
If you’re interested in an Allied Health role at Monash Health, head to our careers website today to check out our current opportunities.