From my very first clinical placement as an undergrad back in 2016 to now as an SLP graduate student, I’ve received some of the most exciting and unique clinical placements I could have ever hoped for! Ranging across the broad SLP spectrum from classic child speech therapy to adult transgender voice therapy, with a mix of everything in between, I’m not sure how I’ve gotten so lucky. Each of my clients in every clinical placement (especially my very first client) will always hold a special place in my heart; they’ve been my constant motivation through every step of this SLP journey. Here’s a look at my previous and current clinical experiences!
This semester I’m feeling especially lucky because I’m one of the two clinicians in our cohort to receive the placement at Toledo’s Traumatic Brain Injury Resource Center, where I’ll be providing group speech and language therapy to about 8-10 adults each week. The TBIRC provides resources, services (such as speech and language therapy or occupational therapy), and functional classes (such as art, cooking, or sewing) to adult traumatic brain injury survivors. When I first read my assignment, I really couldn’t have been more excited because this was the exact placement I had been hoping for and I knew the chances of receiving this placement have always been slim! Even though my ultimate goal is to work with children in the future, I’ve been so eager to gain more experience in providing adult therapy as I start preparing for my upcoming medical internship placement this fall. I’m looking so forward to the new challenges and experiences these clients will bring me!
In order to graduate with a degree in SLP in the state of Ohio and receive a license to practice, graduate students are required to also obtain audiology clinical hours. This semester for my audiology practicum, I’ve received a placement on an audiology team with three other graduate students working within UT’s Speech-Langauge-Hearing Clinic. Throughout the semester we will be performing full hearing evaluations for all incoming clinic patients. Even though audiology isn’t where my true passion lies in this profession, it’s a necessary skill for all SLPs to have because it’s within our scope of practice to also screen and evaluate our client’s hearing. This means that in the future I could be performing yearly student hearing screenings in a school setting.
Because Speech-Language Pathology is a medical profession (which some people may not realize), our program is required to receive interprofessional education and training in collaboration with all other medical professions (Med, PA, OT, PT, Pharmacy, etc.) at UT. We’ve received interprofessional medical training once a week at the Interprofessional Simulation Center on Toledo’s medical campus through the use of standardized patients, technological simulation patients, hospital and rehabilitation simulation rooms, and education about each profession’s rolls and responsibilities on a medical team. I even learned how to take patient vitals (even though this wasn’t really relevant to SLP haha!). This experience has been so unique and has made me look really forward to working with each of these professions in the future!
During my very first semester of grad school in Fall 2017, I received an off-campus clinical placement at SunBridge Preparatory School. On UT’s interview day last year, I had learned a little bit about this potential clinical placement and loved everything I was hearing. SunBridge is a school in Toledo that serves many children of low S.E.S. and works to “bridge” the gap between poverty and the ability to obtain higher education. I provided therapy to two students, one in 4th grade and one in 5th, and loved every second! By being assigned students in upper-elementary, I was able to learn so much about providing therapy that focuses heavily on reading, writing, and curriculum-based interventions. Many people don’t understand why an SLP would provide intervention in these content areas, even though each of these areas fall within our scope of practice. I loved having the opportunity to provide therapy that helped these students to build skills in these academically-based language areas that also helped them within the classroom setting.
While working at SunBridge, I didn’t have access to the UT Clinic therapy materials, which encouraged me to get started on building my own collection of therapy tools. That semester my therapy bag was full of things like Connect Four, a small basketball and baseball, Jenga, prizes, sensory tools, picture cards, and an iPad, among other things!
For my diagnostic practicum during the Fall 2017 semester, I received a placement on a diagnostic team with three other graduate students working within UT’s Speech and Language Clinic. Throughout the semester, we evaluated (and often diagnosed) children ranging from 3-5 years old. Considering each of the clinical experiences I’ve gained during undergrad and this semester, this one was hands down my favorite yet. I loved absolutely everything that this experience entailed, from collaborating with each client’s parents, being able to use materials like bubbles and Play-Doh to evaluate (yes, you’re allowed to be jealous of my future job), and especially the age of these clients *insert heart-eyed emoji here*
During the Summer of 2016, I had the opportunity to receive my very first client and begin my clinical journey a little bit earlier than usual as an undergraduate clinician for Central Michigan University’s Summer Speech-Language Specialty Clinic. SSC is an intensive speech and language therapy program that takes on a summer camp environment for kids ages 3-17. I felt so lucky to be assigned to work in the preschool classroom (ages 3-5) and provide a mix of both speech and language therapy to the cutest and happiest four-year-old little boy. This experience definitely came with it’s own unique challenges, but was without a doubt one of the highlights of my undergrad career. I really feel that gaining this experience during undergrad is the reason I felt prepared and confident in providing therapy right at the start of grad school.
During my junior year at CMU in the Spring 2016 semester, I received my first ever clinical assignment. I worked along side a graduate clinician in CMU’s on-campus speech and language clinic to provide elective voice therapy to a male-to-female transgender client. So interesting, right?! I thought so too! When providing this kind of therapy, we worked with her to help achieve more feminine pitch, articulation, and resonance speech characteristics. Before this experience, I never knew SLPs could provide this kind of speech therapy, and needless to say I was completely drawn in all semester. This was such memorable first clinical experience!