Clinical Practicum Highlight- Oakdale Nursing Home

Kaitlin Alexander shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

“My name is Kaitlin Alexander. I am a second year CSD graduate student at Harding University. My summer offsite placement began May 17, 2021 at Oakdale Nursing Home in Judsonia, Arkansas. Going into this setting, I had no experience at all with evaluating and treating the adult population. As I finish this clinical rotation out, I am leaving with approximately 150 hours of evaluating and treating this population. My clinical supervisor was Anthony Knighton.

Most of the clients I saw were over 70 years old. The youngest client I saw was 58, while the oldest was 94. Most of these individuals were post-stroke, had dementia, or had dysphagia.

A typical day for me started when I arrived at 7:45am. I went through the COVID-19 protocols (temperature taken at door, wore a mask, sanitized, etc.) then reported to Mr. Knighton’s office. The first week, I mostly observed him. The second and third weeks he would go with me to each client’s room, but let me conduct the session. The final weeks he let me go on my own (but often listened outside the room where the client and I couldn’t see him). When I got to the second-final weeks, he printed a schedule for me, and let me decide who to go see first, and what order I would like to do therapy with each client. Many days, especially toward the end of my clinical, he would let me write the progress notes for each client.

My previous classroom and clinic courses prepared me for this population by helping me understand what is happening to an individual’s brain when they have a stroke or dementia. It also helped me understand the swallowing mechanism and what is actually happening when a person swallows, and how aspiration risk and safer eating can be achieved through compensatory and rehabilitative strategies. Being able to see the actual person in front of you with the disorder is something that brought what I learned in a textbook to life. I also found myself being more flexible with a schedule than I ever thought I could be.

Anthony Knighton was a very impactful supervisor, and I am so glad that I had the privilege to work with him. If you ever want to know about specific strategies I learned from him, come ask me! I would love to share with you more about my experience in person!

All in all, my summer placement at Oakdale Nursing Home was a success. I learned so much about the adult population, common disorders that occur with it, and I learned a lot about myself. I am so glad I was placed here, and would not change it for anything.”

Thank you for sharing, Kaitlin!

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