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Celebrating our Black and Minority Ethnic Allied Health Professionals - Meet Raj

An image of Speech and Language Therapist RajWhat is your Allied Health Professional (AHP) profession?

I am a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist.

What is your heritage?

I am British Indian – Sikh heritage born and raised in the UK.

How did you get into this profession? How did you find out about it? What subjects/courses did you do at school/college? What support/encouragement did you have to follow this career?  What influenced your choice of profession?

I got into this profession as a close family member was undergoing speech and language therapy, so I experienced first-hand the difference a speech and language therapist made to someone experiencing communication difficulties.

I studied A-Level Punjabi and Advanced General National Vocational Qualification (GNVQ) Health and Social Care at sixth form after high school.

I had a lot of support from my parents as they wanted me to study for a degree that had good career prospects.

I already had personal experience of someone having speech and language therapy in my family, therefore it was a career that interested me, and I wanted to explore it further.  

How easy was it to get onto a training programme? What were your thoughts before and after starting the course? Did you face any challenges and how did you overcome them?

It wasn’t very easy to get onto the degree programme for this profession. I applied for various degrees whilst at sixth form which were all health related. I wanted to stay close to Leeds as I didn’t want to move far due to health problems therefore my choices were limited. I wasn’t offered a place for the speech and language therapy degree at Leeds due to my predicted grades however I did well in the end and got a place on the speech and language therapy degree at Leeds Metropolitan University through clearing.

Due to my health problems, I had to have an operation at the start of term in the first year, therefore ended up starting the degree later. I unfortunately had to have another minor operation in the second term, which resulted in me completing a three-year degree over the course of five years, which was difficult. It was difficult to make friends as I was there for five years, but not in a set year. I didn’t really get to experience university life like most people do due to my health problems and have gone through this most of my life having missed parts of my schooling as a result.

My parents have always encouraged me and told me to never let my health hinder me from progressing in my career or life. My dad always said, “Even if it takes you 10 years you will do this degree”. The university team and tutors were very supportive and did all they could to ensure that I could complete my degree and placement. Because of all the support from my family and university tutors I was even more determined to complete my degree and be successful.   

What is your current role? What does a typical day look like? What do you love about your role? What would you like to change?

I am currently working as a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist within the Children’s Speech and Language Therapy Service.

No two days are the same, so one day I could be working in a traded school where the school buy in speech therapy the next, I could be doing assessments, running a group, coaching staff members or doing training. If it is a mainstream NHS day then I could be in clinic; seeing children and doing assessments or I might be doing school visits; analysing assessments, writing up notes, onward referrals, writing reports, etc.

The main thing I love about my job is working with the children and making a difference to them to help them achieve their communication goals.

I would like to offer more therapy/assessment time for the children, which I believe would make the job more rewarding.  

What are your career aspirations? What has been your career path to date? What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

I have been a Speech and Language Therapist for 17 years now. I became a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist almost two years after I came in post so for the last 15 years, I have been a Band 6 Specialist Speech and Language Therapist.

I have been successful in a temporary Band 7 Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist post for six months during my career.

The challenges I have faced is being told I have missed out on the opportunity by a few points to try again next time or being told you don’t have enough experience. I am determined to keep on trying and have looked within the trust for other opportunities of development.

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