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Careers at Peninsula Health: Q&A with Sarah Billing

Name: Sarah Billing

Job: Paediatric Speech Pathologist

Sites that you’re based at: Hastings, Mornington

What does a typical day/shift in your role involve?

If you ask my clients (mostly children aged 2-6 years) what a typical day involves, they’d probably say I spend my time choosing all of the best games for us to play in our sessions!

If you ask the parents and families, they might say I spend some time choosing resources, activities and home practise cleverly targeted at getting the child to do ‘therapy’ without realising it.

If you ask my colleagues, my day involves planning therapy, administering and scoring assessments, calling families / childcare centres / preschools / paediatricians (etc.), writing reports and letters, making resources and attending meetings… just to name a few!

Why did you decide to pursue a career in this field?

Firstly, I knew I wanted to work in the health care industry to better the lives of others.

Secondly, I have always enjoyed working with people on a daily basis (after doing a science degree working in a lab, I knew that I had to be working with people rather than test-tubes).

Lastly, I have always had an interest in communication (studying Japanese in high school and travelling overseas taught me that there are many other ways to communicate with others, even if you don’t speak the same language). 

So healthcare + people + communication, brought me to Speech Pathology!

What do like best about your job?

I love the diversity of my skill set as a Speech Pathologist. Speech Pathologists not only work with adults and children in a range of different settings (e.g. schools, hospitals, etc.) but within these age groups we can also work on a variety of areas including: speech sound difficulties, language delays, stuttering, voice difficulties, swallowing difficulties and other forms of communication that are not verbal (the fancy name for this is ‘Augmentative and Alternative Communication’). 

My current job is working with children – I love that the kids are always excited to attend and that I can see the progress that they make not only within the session, but between sessions! I also value being part of a multidisciplinary team where I can work alongside and learn from other clinicians.

What has been one highlight / memorable moment working in Children’s Services at Peninsula Health?

I love the relationships I form with my families. Some families see me as their trusted clinician, some see me as a friend (which includes getting invited to 3 and 4 year old birthday parties) and some see me as  almost part of the family as I have worked with some children long enough to watch them grow up.

I also love being able to work with the families to achieve their goals. This includes supporting the family to deliver the therapy at home, not only so that they can come back next time and show me the gains they have made, but because research shows that carers are critical to achieving change because of the amount of therapy practice families can offer their child. It’s great to see both the parent and the child being proud of their progress.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

When I’m not working I enjoy playing team sports, checking out the beautiful sites of the Peninsula and hanging out with my niece and nephew (because working with kids every day isn’t enough! 🙂