Training the next generation of therapists

The demand for speech-language pathologists services keeps increasing, driven by the needs of a growing senior population as well as advances in healthcare that have led to great improvements in the survival rate of premature infants and to the earlier identification and diagnoses of speech, language, and swallowing disorders in young children. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment in the field will grow by 29% by 2030. The need for physical and occupational therapists is expected to grow significantly as well.

Cutting Edge Therapy is proud to play an active role in training future generations of speech-language pathologists by hosting graduate students for their clinical practicum and providing high-quality supervision to help them grow as clinicians.

What is a clinical practicum?

Speech-language pathologists must obtain a master’s degree accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. This degree requires approximately two years of full-time study during which a rigorous academic program and a clinical practicum need to be successfully completed.

A clinical practicum consists of the graduate student providing a minimum of 400 hours of direct clinical services to patients under the supervision of qualified speech-language pathologists. The practicum is generally divided into different placements, which are carried out over several semesters. Placement sites include schools, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and private practices.

As a student, how can you prepare for a clinical practicum?

  • It is likely that your university will find placements for you to carry out your clinical practicum and establish an affiliation agreement with each site. However, it is always great to be proactive and to let your university know which settings you prefer. Some universities will let you reach out to sites yourself to inquire whether they might host you. You should always check your university’s policies with regard to communicating with placement sites.
  • Once your placement is secured, reach out to your future supervisor to introduce yourself. Ask them if they have recommendations on how to prepare yourself for the specific needs of their patients.
  • Read up! By the time you start your first placement, you will already have been presented with a wealth of knowledge through your classes. Revisit the textbooks and articles that will be relevant to the patient population you will serve.
  • Make sure you have good organizational systems in place as cumulating classes, practicum and all the demands of life can be a marathon!
  • Go in with a growth mindset. As a student, you will face many firsts. While you may have the theory down, the practice will present you with many unexpected moments and learning curves. Happily, your supervisor will be here to guide you and debrief you after sessions to help you grow and thrive on your journey to becoming a qualified clinician.

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