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Seven questions with Sze Wei Ping, SLP and researcher

Updated: Apr 4

Photo Credit: Sze Wei Ping

SALTS Insider: Hi, Wei Ping! Could you please introduce yourself, your SLP background, and your journey thus far? 

Sze Wei Ping: Hi, my name is Sze Wei Ping. I was trained in the NUS Master of Science (Speech and Language Pathology, SLP) programme. After graduation, I worked full-time in St. Andrews Community Hospital before undertaking a PhD at University College London. 

Insider: What areas of research have you explored, and what led you to these areas?

Wei Ping: Specific to my primary research in SLP, the areas I have completed include: Bilingual language assessment (paediatrics), adult aphasia intervention, and dysphagia intervention.

My previous background was in psycholinguistics, so I am naturally drawn towards communication.  I decided to take on a piece of swallowing research, just to stretch myself outside my research comfort zone.  Also, because swallowing makes up a large part of an SLP’s caseload.


Insider: What do you find most enjoyable and challenging about doing research?

Wei Ping: The process of figuring it out.  There is a feeling of relief, luck, and validation when the light is seen at the end of the tunnel, but when struggling in that dark tunnel, it is not a bed of roses.

Insider: How was doing research different during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Wei Ping: The core processes from hypothesis formation to, say, design will be identical.  The form it takes may differ, for example, data collection is completed online.

Insider: What was something surprising you discovered through your research that you never expected?

Wei Ping: Perhaps not so much through my research, but through clinical work.

I was schooled in the conventional way of prioritising large group randomised control trials over other types of studies.  Yet, when working with actual clients, it is the case series and single case studies that are most beneficial for direct clinical application. 

Insider: Your paper on spoken naming therapy for adults with aphasia proposed a framework called “RITA” for use in therapy sessions. How might clinicians and researchers use the RITA framework?

Wei Ping: “RITA” is a checklist that organises the “active ingredients” of an aphasia naming therapy for adults.  The “active ingredients” are arranged into (1) Regimen; (2) Item(s); (3) Technique(s); and (4) Application of technique(s) with their Adjuncts, and thus “RITA”.

It is designed to help speech and language therapists as well as researchers think about what makes up an anomia therapy, and whether tweaking or adding a particular ingredient could better serve a client.  “RITA” is especially useful for younger therapists and researchers, who find the variations in language therapies confusing or daunting.

It should be emphasised that the “RITA” framework is flexible and easily adapted to other areas, like motor-speech therapy or for communication therapy with children. 

Insider: What advice would you give to SLPs who are budding or aspiring researchers?

Wei Ping: Be uncomfortable with uncertainties.

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