I am interested in medical speech pathology. How can such a small school offer me the medical experience that I am looking for? (Asking for a friend.)

This is one of the most frequent comments we get from current undergraduate students interested in pursuing graduate school here at Harding University. Students are afraid if they choose to go to Harding, they may lack the “medical experience.” To address these concerns, we have collected a couple reflections from two current second year graduate students who are also interested in medical speech pathology, and wanted to share their medical experiences they have received during their time here at HU. 

“Harding’s graduate program for speech-language pathology has provided me with multiple, unique learning and clinical experiences. This spring semester, I spent my offsite clinical placement at University of Arkansas for the Medical Sciences (UAMS), a level one trauma center, working in both inpatient and outpatient settings. During my time in inpatient, I gained experience in evaluation/treatment in medical/surgical intensive care units and acute care. My experience in working with patients included a wide variety of diagnoses/conditions, including: CVA, TBI, Parkinson disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, dementia, tracheostomy, and ventilator-dependent patients. My coursework, I felt, prepared me to step into the rotation and apply my knowledge to the patients I was assessing/treating. I also had the opportunity to observe an awake craniotomy—a tumor resection in the left temporal lobe—under the chief of neurosurgery at UAMS; the experience was amazing, as I was able to watch the entire surgery just a foot away from the surgeons. During the second half of my semester, I was in the head and neck oncology clinic, in which my supervisor’s typical schedule included: counseling/education prior to and throughout radiation/chemotherapy, baseline and post radiation/chemo VFSS, as well as tracheoesophageal voice restoration (TEP), electrolarynx training, and stoma care in patients with total laryngectomy. I loved my experience in working with head and neck cancer patients. My supervisor taught me how to change TEP prostheses, and I continued to gain experience in conducting, interpreting, and documenting videofluoroscopic swallow studies (VFSS). I am thankful for the clinical experience I’ve had at UAMS and for my professors who have provided me a strong foundation of knowledge upon which to build my clinical skills. The experience I gained at UAMS is one I will take with me into my CF and into my clinical practice.” – Abby L. 

“I am about to enter into the field of Speech Language Pathology and will no longer be a student of the profession but an actual professional and colleague of my professors. Would I say I am terrified? Yes; however, I do not think that I could have been more ready and well prepared then I do leaving Harding University’s masters program. I am from Los Angeles, CA and to say coming to Searcy, AR was a culture shock would be an understatement. Small town living never interested me but I would not change this experience for the world. My interests lie in the medical side of speech language pathology. I plan to eventually be a professional in a large metropolitan hospital taking part in something big. Looking back on my graduate career I can say with confidence that the knowledge I have gained in regards to the medical aspects of speech and language here has exceeded my expectations. I was able to begin a practicum experience at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), a level 1 trauma facility, with confidence. I was able to apply my coursework and adapt it in order to best fit the need of my patients. The experience I received during that practicum was incredible. The patients that I evaluated and treated were only ones that you heard about in textbooks and never dreamed about taking part in. I loved every minute of it. Harding University is a small town, private school and people would not think that there are much opportunity involved in the graduate program. I am here to tell you that that is a huge misconception. I can speak for the majority of my classmates that we feel competent in accepting and beginning jobs in medical settings and I highly recommend this program. I am extremely proud to say my masters is from Harding University.” – Lindsey B.

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