Three semesters down, two more to go!
At the end of July, I wrapped up my final semester on UT’s campus, moved out of my beautiful townhome, and said goodbye to the city I’ve called home for the past year. I never expected to fall so in love with Toledo, but my goodness, I loved every single moment. I’m not sure if it’s completely sunk in that my time there is over, but ahh it’s good to be back home in Michigan. My four week break in August full of travel and relaxation was exactly what I needed to destress and recharge before beginning my fall internship. Only two internships and three more classes stand between me and my master’s degree!
During the summer semester of UT’s SLP program, the first six weeks of the semester are dedicated to classes, while the second six weeks are dedicated to our clinical placements. And boy oh boy, was summer a complete whirlwind…
Even though I was fully prepared for a more intensive work load because of the six week time frame, I still planned on having a good amount of free time (which is a rarity and a luxury in grad school) since I was only taking two classes without the added pressure of a clinical placement. What could be so bad, right? Well, when 15 week classes are crammed into six, I should’ve known better. Nothing could’ve prepared me for the madness that was the first six weeks of summer!
Don’t get me wrong though, I definitely still made time for the pool 😉
My summer classes included Voice and Resonance Disorders (focusing on topics such as transgender voice therapy or treatment of vocal fold paralysis, for example) and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (focusing on clients who use AAC systems, such as a communication board or an iPad system to communicate). My voice class allowed me to gain experiences such as using computer softwares to analyze client voice samples, observing a live stroboscopic evaluation right in our on-campus clinic (a non-invasive eval method used to see vocal fold vibration by placing a small camera at the back of the throat), and even recording and monitoring my own vocal performance over a week-long span. As part of our AAC class, we were required to create both a low-tech AAC device (I chose to create a laminated picture board — see below) and high-tech AAC device (by using an app called CoughDrop that I could use on both my phone and iPad). We were required to use each device to communicate for a 24-hour period to experience life and communication as person who used AAC. These assignments were without a doubt much more difficult than I had imagined it would be, but my goodness did it open my eyes to just a few of the challenges these clients face every moment of every day!
Until summer semester, I could say that I genuinely enjoyed every single one of my classes, even when I least expected it (feeding and swallowing, I’m looking at you). Up until this point, I loved and could easily see myself working with the populations and speciality areas covered in every class. But for some reason, the two areas of focus covered in our summer classes, Voice and AAC, didn’t give me the same eager and passionate energy that I had felt all throughout the first two semesters. That’s not to say I didn’t find these classes interesting or useful, I simply didn’t find the same excitement for these topics as I had for so many others.
But you know what?
This is perfectly okay with me!
I knew I would likely to run into at least one topic throughout my graduate experience that didn’t quite suit me, and it just so happened that both of those classes were during my summer semester. But when I look at the grand scheme of things, how lucky am I to have found so many other topics and specialty areas that I never imagined I would be passionate about all because of the experiences I’ve had throughout the past 12 months? Knowing the specific topics that I’m least passionate about has only helped me to determine exactly where I want to be as an SLP!
After working with the adult population during the spring semester and then starting the summer off with six weeks of classes that definitely weren’t my favorite, I was beyond excited to get back to where my heart truly lies in speech-language pathology… THE LITTLE ONES!!
This summer I was assigned to my #1 choice clinical placement: Communication Bootcamp! This is a 6 week summer camp dedicated to providing therapy to 3-6 year olds who have trouble with speech, language, and early literacy skills. The 3 weeks prior to camp were full of diagnostic sessions with every child, meetings with parents, and of course, prepping lots and lots of summer-themed therapy activities (Teachers Pay Teachers became my very best friend)!
By far the best addition I made to my therapy tools this summer though was my Apple Watch! After months of debating back and forth, during Communication Bootcamp I finally took the plunge and decided to buy one! I made this decision for a couple reasons. First, I absolutely hated having to rely on my phone to check the time, set timers, etc. during therapy sessions. To me, it seemed unprofessional and impractical to constantly be using my phone while working with clients and parents. Second, since the timer on the watch can be set to use vibration instead of an alarm when it goes off, it allows me to set a timer for myself during sessions without a child or client ending a task or becoming distracted when they hear the alarm. This watch immediately became one of my favorite therapy investments! I truly feel it’s made my therapy sessions more seamless and less chaotic. I’m especially excited to have this tool during my medical internship this fall instead of having to carry my phone around with me all day to patient’s rooms. I would highly recommended this purchase to any teacher or therapist!
My six weeks of Communication Bootcamp solidified, once again, that my true passion will always be working with children. This was my first time providing therapy to children in group sessions, my first time working with children on the autism spectrum, my first time providing articulation therapy, and my first time working to manage challenging behaviors… and oh my goodness did I learn so much from these kids! *insert the biggest heart-eyed emoji here* Every single day at camp my heart was so full from teeny tiny hugs, the most hysterical comments and questions, and the most rewarding therapy moments.
Next goal: graduate so I can do this job every single day!
The biggest shout out goes to this man who has loved me, supported me, and cheered me on throughout my entire first year of grad school!
WHAT’S TO COME
Helllooo fall internship!!
After this summer semester, I felt more prepared than ever (and to my surprise, not even the slightest bit nervous) to finally start my first full-time internship with a full caseload of clients. UT’s SLP program has prepared me for these upcoming internship placements more than I could’ve ever hoped for.
Next stop: Canterbury-on-the-Lake assisted living and rehabilitation facility!
Only 225 days until graduation, but who’s counting? 😉
To read all about…
my first semester of grad school, click HERE!
my second semester of grad school, click HERE!