Clinical Practicum Highlight- Pediatric Complex Care of Arkansas

Mary Barber shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

“This summer, I completed my offsite practicum at Pediatric Complex Care of Arkansas. My caseload consisted of residents ages 2-21 that have complex developmental and medical needs. A typical day might consist of starting out in one of the classrooms with a group language stimulation activity like bingo, bowling, or an interactive story. I would also provide individual therapy targeting resident specific goal. The morning time was usually the best time to work on skills using the Eye Gaze system. At lunch I would provide therapeutic feeds to residents in Central Park. After lunch, I would go to resident’s bedrooms providing therapy while they had down time in their beds. The last two hours of the day were spent back in the classrooms, providing therapy, and finishing up documentation. Our pediatric feeding and dysphagia course prepared me for this clinical practicum, and I felt confident in my ability to discuss feeding and swallowing with my supervisors and occupational therapists after completing these courses.”

Thank you for sharing, Mary!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- St. Vincent North Hospital

Erin Young shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

“I was at St. Vincent’s North Hospital in NLR, which is a neuro-based hospital. During offsite I would wake up at 5:45 and drive to the hospital to start at 7:00 sharp. My caseload was primarily stroke patients—generally the older population. We mostly did cognitive and swallowing evaluations, and cognitive, language, and swallowing treatment. In one day we would see around 6-10 patients depending on the caseload and if we had additional help from the PRN SLP’s on staff (my preceptor is the only full time SLP at the hospital). Anatomy & Physiology, Neuro, and Dysphagia all prepared me the most for my placement—I think I would have been lost if it wasn’t for these courses. The brain’s neuroplasticity is amazing, and it amazes me that people can overcome such unfortunate circumstances!”

Thank you for sharing, Erin!

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Baby Day Lab- Harding University

Mary Coleman shares about her experience taking part in the Baby Day Lab 2022:

“The first year graduate students had the opportunity to take part in Harding’s Baby Day Lab, where physical therapy (PT) and speech-language pathology (SLP) graduate students work together to evaluate children up to 3 years old. Every speech student was paired with two PT students and assigned to work with one infant or child. It was such a great experience! We were able to apply our knowledge in a real-world setting and to work in an interprofessional group. There are different developmental markers that speech and PT look for during an evaluation, so we worked together to find ways to test multiple things with one activity. For example, stacking blocks can be used to observe physical reflexes as well as various communication attempts.

It was such a great experience! Besides getting a chance to be around adorable babies, being able to apply our knowledge in a real world setting helped connect the dots we’ve been forming in class. The PT students had tips and tricks to share about performing evaluations, and they had different ways of going about them than we might have. It was a great reminder about the importance of interprofessional groups. It was also so rewarding to see our hard-work pay off and to realize how much we’ve already learned!”

Thank you for sharing, Mary!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- Plumley Rehabilitation

Sydney Snider shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

“Hey! My name is Sydney Snider and I’m a second-year graduate student pursuing my master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. This summer I was at Plumley Rehabilitation within the Henry County Healthcare Center (skilled nursing facility) in Paris, TN. My supervising SLP is also the therapy director, therefore she advocates for all the therapy disciplines (ST, PT, and OT) in the facility. A typical day would consist of meetings with admissions and therapy staff, treatment and evaluation of patients, and documentation. Occasionally, I attended Medicare utilization meetings, care of plan meetings, and wound care meetings. There was no typical patient seen in this facility; Diagnoses included stroke, GI bleeds, COPD, heart complications, Parkinson’s disease, bone fractures, etc. For speech therapy, I got the opportunity to serve patients with Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and dysphagia. My classes prepared me for this offsite by teaching me in depth information on diagnoses and furthering my research skills so I could educate myself in areas I lacked. My biggest lessons learned this summer were that I actually really love geriatrics and that team work (interdisciplinary care) actually does make the dream work.”

Thank you for sharing, Sydney!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- Timber Ridge Neurorestorative Ranch

Kaylee O’Dell shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

“This summer, I was given the opportunity to complete my summer offsite placement at Timber Ridge Neurorestorative Ranch in Benton, Arkansas with Julia Hartis. While I was very excited for my placement, I was also incredibly nervous and anxious. I was going to be working with children with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) – a population I had never worked with before. I did not know what to expect, nor was I prepared for how life-changing this experience was going to be for me.

            I will never forget the memories, learning experiences, and sweet people from Timber Ridge Neurorestorative Center. My apprehension and nerves quickly went away after I learned how special of a place Timber Ridge was. My supervisor, Chelsey Pfeiffer, was incredibly welcoming, accommodating, and informative. She quickly made me feel “at home” and gave me all the information I needed to treat the kids on her caseload.

            One thing I loved about Timber Ridge is its uniqueness. No day really felt the same and I was constantly given new learning opportunities and experiences. I worked in the onsite school with the pediatric TBI population. I also worked in the “dual school” treating children with psychiatric diagnoses who had an individualized education plan (IEP) for speech therapy. I treated kids with articulation disorders, language disorders, voice abnormalities, and executive dysfunction. I also had the opportunity to learn how to treat children with incredibly heart-breaking backgrounds. Due to their injuries and their life experiences many of these children had behavioral disorders. Addressing behaviors is something that I felt I did not have a lot of experience with, but after my offsite experience I feel very confident in my abilities to address problem behaviors that may get in the way of treatment.

            Another unique aspect of Timber Ridge Neurorestorative Ranch is the collaboration among all the different therapists. In the school, I had the opportunity to work with the teacher, behavioral therapist, occupational therapist, neuropsychiatrist, and physical therapist. I learned so much from observing these other professions. We frequently had team meetings and staffings to discuss each of our pediatric clients. I had the pleasure of hearing everyone’s perspective on each child. This was an enriching and special learning experience for me.

            I walked into Timber Ridge Neurorestorative Ranch with a lot of knowledge and preparedness for my future, but I walked away with a newfound confidence and appreciation for speech pathology. I will always hold the experiences at Timber Ridge close to my heart. My offsite experience was challenging but also very fulfilling. On my last day, I was given a wooden keychain cross from one of the sweet adult clients with the handmade initials ‘TRR’ to remember “Timber Ridge Ranch’ by. One of my favorite 12 year old pediatric clients and I took a trip to the creek by the ranch on my last day, too. This client loved rocks and collected different rocks while we were at the creek. When we got back, he told me I should keep the heart shaped rock that he found because he “loved me.” These sweet experiences reaffirmed my love for speech pathology and made me confident in God’s plan for me to become a speech pathologist. It taught me that speech pathology is a ministry and there are so many people that need our love and support.”

Thank you for sharing, Kaylee!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- Dreamplex

Jessica Neubauer shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

“This summer I was assigned to a private practice- Central Florida Dreamplex in Clermont, FL. My caseload consisted of children with severe disabilities that included cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, fetal alcohol syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, feeding disorders, many with communication devices, etc. I also had the opportunity to work with home health clients which, surprisingly, was one of my favorite experiences. I had a few teletherapy clients as well. My day typically started at 8:30 am at the facility but ended at different times each day. The latest I usually ended my day was around 6:15 pm twice a week due to traveling to homes. Something I admire about Dreamplex is its interprofessional communication. After a majority of my sessions, I usually brought my client to a physical or occupational therapist (or they would bring me a client) and we would discuss how the child performed, anything new noticed, what to expect behavior-wise during the session, etc. Each professional made me feel comfortable and confident discussing my clients. Although previous classes had taught me the basics of many disorders, I felt like I knew very little going into offsite. It wasn’t until working hands-on with children with these disorders that I realized how much I knew and had learned from previous classes. I was able to take that knowledge and apply it to treatment with my clients while also learning/utilizing new information from my placement that I hadn’t learned in classes. I am grateful for the experiences I had working with incredible clients, their families, and all of Dreamplex. No day was exactly the same and it was challenging at times, but all of the children and support I had from my coworkers helped me become a more knowledgeable and effective therapist.”

Thank you for sharing, Jessica!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- White River Medical Center

Caitlin McGough shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

“This summer, I was blessed to work at the White River Medical Center Inpatient Rehab facility! A typical day starts at 7:45, when either I or my supervisor sets the schedule for the day. We have 4-7 patients a day, for 45 minutes each. They will either be treats or evals. Treats are usually a mix of cognition, swallowing, motor speech, voice, and language, with cognition and swallowing making up the majority of my minutes. Evals consist of a brief swallowing screen and a cognition screen, usually the MMSE or SLUMS. Patients were seen in either their room or the speech therapy office. Occasionally, we would even bring a patient down to the garden for therapy! I will admit, paperwork in this particular rehab setting was atrocious, but my supervisor was excellent about showing me the ropes. My classes on dysphagia, neurology, and language disorders gave me a solid foundation for my offsite, and though it could be a lot to handle at times, I always felt like I was providing good services for my patients.

One thing I loved about my placement is that patients are seen every day for a week or two. This means that I get to establish a good rapport and watch their progress over time. I also enjoyed the challenge of finding appropriate materials for my patients. We hear all the time about how every patient is different, but it becomes more tangible when you see such a wide variety of diagnoses. Tailoring each session to patient needs is a fun exercise in clinical thinking and helped improve my spontaneity! Overall, I had a stellar experience at White River Medical Center. I’m sad to be leaving, but I’m so thankful that I can take what I have learned to more patients in the future!”

Thank you for sharing, Caitlin!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- Mayo Clinic Health Systems

Katie McFarland shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

“My clinical off-site placement this past summer was located at Mayo Clinic Health Systems- New Prague and Mayo Clinic Health Systems- Rehabilitation Services. I worked with inpatients and outpatients at the hospital, as well as at the pediatric clinic located in the rehabilitation services clinic. The type of caseload at this off-site placement included a large variety of patients. I provided inpatient services that were focused on swallow evaluations and treatment, video swallow studies, and cognitive evaluations and treatment. For outpatients, the typical caseload included voice, CVA, dementia, traumatic brain injuries, video swallow studies, post-concussion syndrome, and more. At the rehabilitation services clinic I worked with pediatrics including articulation, language, and social communication therapy.

When looking at my typical days spent at off-site if varied depending on which supervisor I was with.

To summarize a Monday/Thursday:

            On these days I would start at the hospital in the morning where we usually only saw inpatients, but on occasion there may be an outpatient seen. Inpatients consisted of swallowing and/or cognition. Usually for swallowing it was a follow-up treatment session to assess diet tolerance and teach swallowing strategies/exercises for safe swallowing. If it was a cognition patient being seen, we were usually finishing up assessments and/or providing exercises in word retrieval, memory, etc. depending on each individual and etiology. Everyday there was rounds that we attended in the morning at the hospital with other disciplines including the MD on staff, nursing, PT, OT, Respiratory Therapy, pharmacy, dietician, etc. to discuss the inpatients and provide updates on each patient with the group. By 11:00am I would go over to the rehabilitation services building to see pediatric clients. On average, I would see five to six clients in a day. The caseload for pediatrics primarily consisted of articulation, language, and social communication with an age range of 2 years-old to 13 years-old. There was a lot of motivating activities, positive reinforcement, and play based therapy being used depending on each individual child. Each session would range from 30 to 45 minutes and some kids would come twice a week where others would come once a week or even every other week. I enjoyed working with a variety of ages and had a great supervisor who explained the purpose behind activities and what was being targeted and why based on previous assessments.

To summarize Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday:

            On these days I would spend all day at the hospital seeing inpatients and outpatients. Many outpatients were seen on these days including patients being seen for voice, post CVA, traumatic brain injury, post-concussion syndrome, dementia, and video swallow studies. These sessions ranged from 45 minutes to an hour in duration with patients who would come either once or twice a week depending on need. These sessions looked very different because of the variety of caseload being seen. I was able to be apart of many evaluations which was a great learning experience to see the “whole process” of having a patient come in and take case history, give assessments, and then formulate a treatment plan to provide therapy. I really enjoyed seeing outpatients and the progress some of them made in a six-week span while I was there. On these days we also did video swallow studies down in radiology. On average, there was usually at least one once a week, but sometimes up to three in a day. I was also lucky enough to see esophagrams be completed while in radiology following the fluoro video completed by the SLP. We also saw inpatients which consisted of the same caseload as Mondays and Thursdays, but we did more evaluations on these days due to having extended time at the hospital. We would do bedside swallow evaluations, follow-up swallow treatment, cognitive assessments, and cognitive treatment. This included making diet recommendations, recommending video swallow studies when needed, teaching swallow strategies/exercises, providing exercises pertaining to memory, aphasia, word retrieval, etc. depending on the patient. There were also rounds on these days at the hospital where the same disciplines gathered to discuss inpatient care. I had an excellent supervisor who really helped guide me in applying and gaining knowledge about dysphagia evaluations and treatment at this off-site.

Looking back at the previous classes I have taken over the last fall and spring, I can say that I was able to apply so much material and knowledge gained from those classes at this off-site. The classes that jump out to me that were most beneficial to have before going into this off-site placement include counseling, dysphagia, Birth to 5, and neuro anatomy and physiology. I was able to see how important counseling is when working as a speech pathologist. One of my supervisors who I saw most of the outpatients with was so so so skilled in this area. I had a great mentor to observe and guide me as we worked with our variety of outpatients and families who were working through emotional and challenging situations. I was able to apply so much knowledge learned from neuro anatomy and physiology and dysphagia on the inpatient side. I encountered many different disorders and diseases that I already knew about thanks to neuro anatomy and physiology and how that could be impacting a person’s cognitive status, swallow, and/or communication. Dysphagia evaluations, treatment, and video swallows were completed during this off-site and I was able to apply knowledge from my previous dysphagia course which was helpful during this experience. What I learned in birth to 5 helped me when working at the rehabilitation services center and I was able to give standardized assessments and provide treatment that would support the child based on age-appropriate skills.”

Thank you for sharing, Katie!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- NeuroRestoritive Timber Ridge Ranch

Julia Hartis shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

“During my offsite placement at NeuroRestoritive Timber Ridge Ranch, I had the opportunity to work with adults that have a traumatic or acquired brain injury. There are 2 phases in the adult program. Phase 1 works with patients that are considered more severe and require 24/7 care. Phase 2 is more independent but still requires assistance with some activities throughout their day. I was able to lead sessions for both phases but was primarily with phase 1 patients. 

A typical day at Timber Ridge begins with Notebook. This session is designed to orient the patients to person, place, time, and location. The patients also receive their daily schedule and journal during this hour, which allows them to know where they are going and write down what they have done if they forget later. My favorite part of this session was discussing SMART goals. The clients wrote down goals for PT, OT, and speech. It was exciting to talk about these goals and the improvements they had made compared to previous weeks. The remainder of the day was all depending on what day of the week it was. Some sessions focused on specific areas of cognition or ADLs, and others targeted particular goals for the individual clients. Most sessions were group therapy based. This was a huge learning experience to balance therapy goals for multiple clients while maintaining conversation and “brain breaks” that were much needed throughout the hour session.

The classes that prepared me the most for this experience were Neuro with Dr. Meeker and Dr. Killins and Dysphagia with Dr. Meeker. Learning about Neuro from a PT and speech therapist gave me the knowledge needed to interact with patients that required assistance at varying levels for ADLs. During these classes, the brain, swallowing, and adults scared me. There was NO way that I would work with anything adult. However, this experience and my supervisor encouraged me to fall in love with an area of the scope of practice I was previously terrified of.”

Thank you for sharing, Julia!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute

Maddie Hall shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

“This summer I was assigned to the Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute in the outpatient clinic. Our caseload in the outpatient clinic consisted of adults of all ages with a variety of impairments or diagnoses. The cool thing about this placement was that every day was so different! The patient list each day was different so there was always variety in our day. Some days we might only have treatment sessions, while other days we might have evaluations as well. A typical day for me would be arriving to the hospital. We typically saw around 8 patients a day, one each hour. Depending on our caseload that day, we spent our lunch or time after we closed documenting our sessions in the hospital chart system. Before we left, we would plan our sessions for the next day so that we were all prepared and ready to start the next morning over again. I felt prepared going into this placement because my classes set me up with a knowledge and understanding of the brain functions, and what impairments can result from strokes and traumatic brain injuries in specific areas of the brain, as well as neurodegenerative diseases. As we saw new diagnoses in the clinic, I was able to discuss what we could expect to see with my supervisor and felt prepared in what evaluation materials would be appropriate for those patients. I also think clinical experiences as well as interactions and discussions with my supervisors at the HUSC allowed me to feel confident in building rapport with my patients and providing support while they worked through recovery from life-altering situations. I am so incredibly grateful for my 6 weeks at BHRI. Not only did I gain experience in evaluating and treating various speech, language, cognitive, and swallowing impairments, but I also met incredible people who I had the honor of helping through their recovery. I walked away learning something from each of them and I know that those interactions will make me a better clinician in the future!”

Thank you for sharing, Maddie!

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