How is ASHA addressing recruitment needs of the discipline?
Much of ASHA's resources are dedicated to recruitment, as is evident by its Focused Initiatives on the PhD Shortage in Higher Education and Personnel Issues in Healthcare and Education. Overall efforts have focused on recruiting more students at all levels to consider a career in CSD, promoting the benefits of assuming positions in educational or health care settings, and advocating for individuals at every level to pursue a PhD and become a teacher-researcher. Simply put, the more people that enter the pipeline, the more chances to fill the present vacancies across many areas of the professions. The upcoming launch of the Higher Education Data System (HES) will be a crucial tool in ASHA's efforts. It will track CSD trends in student admissions; enrollment; and matriculation for master, clinical doctoral, and research doctoral programs.
The focus of the Researcher-Academic Town Meeting at the 2006 ASHA National Convention was "Recruitment at the High School, Undergraduate, Clinical Entry, and Practicing Professional Levels". Julie Masterson, Christy Ludlow, and Pat Cole presented on projects and initiatives underway to recruit students and individuals to academic programs in CSD. Julie Masterson, President of the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CAPCSD), highlighted the "Bring in the Best" project, which is a collaboration among ASHA, CAPCSD, and the American Academy of Audiology (AAA). Its charge is to develop a list of local, state, and national science fairs; develop resources and materials that highlight awards; and facilitate partnerships with states, professionals associations, and private enterprises to fund awards.
A fall forum on Strategizing Solutions to Personnel Shortages in Speech-Language Pathology was held in September 2006. Academic programs and other relevant stakeholders such as state associations, health care employers, and school districts discussed barriers and solutions to increasing the number of individuals who seek careers as speech-language pathologists.
One of the prevailing themes from both the Researcher-Academic Town Meeting and the fall forum is that academic programs, practicing professionals, ASHA, state associations, and other groups can work together to address personnel shortages. Clinicians, researchers, and faculty who serve as "ambassadors" for their professions and work settings can be powerful recruiters.
This article first appeared in the February 2007 issue of Access Academics and Research.