Clinical Practicum Highlight- The Children’s Center (TCC)

Hannah Hall shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

            “For my summer off-site placement, I was placed at The Children’s Center (TCC) Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany, OK. My caseload often varied not only week by week but also day by day. Due to being placed in the long-term rehab unit in the hospital, my caseload varied based on current admissions. There were kids that I only saw for a couple of weeks because they got discharged, and there were kids I saw for the entire 6-week rotation (and their time at the hospital is nowhere near complete). It also varied day by day because we never knew what kind of condition any given child would be in when we arrived at the room. There were plenty of days that I wouldn’t be able to see one of my clients because we would walk to their room and then walk right back out because they were sleeping, sick, or just not in the mood for therapy that day (the last one only happened once).

            Due to variations in caseloads, my days hardly ever looked the same. Several of the kids I was lucky enough to see for the entirety of my placement were BIR kids, or Brain Injury Rehabilitation kids. Learning to work with that type of patient was a HUGE learning curve for me. I had learned in classes that we may see patients like them but had no experience. However, although it took a while for me to get into the swing of things, I would say that watching the progress of those children was one of the most rewarding parts of my time at TCC. Many of them had significant brain injuries and it was just amazing to me to see how far they have come even in my short time with them. A large portion of my caseload were typically BIR patients, but I also saw a couple of feeding kids, others that we just worked on appropriate play and language development with, and a couple of AAC clients. So, as you can tell, not your typical speech and language clients. Pretty much all of these areas were not areas that I had any kind of experience in, but I do feel like classes I have had helped me to not go in blind. Even though I hadn’t had any practice working with these clients, I had knowledge that I could finally begin to apply (after a quick dust off, of course!).

            Although it was challenging at times, I would not trade my time at TCC for anything. I learned so much and had two of the best supervisors that invested in me and showed unlimited patience as I learned the best ways to treat the sweet kiddos. Some days were harder than others, of course, but seeing the progress the children made while I was there was more than worth the hard times. I just hope that I was able to make at least a little impact on the lives of the children I saw while I was there. They definitely left an impact on me. I’ll never forget them. Maybe I’ll go back someday, who knows?”

Thank you for sharing, Hannah!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- High Hopes

Lauren Gibson shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

“I completed my offsite experience this summer at High Hopes Development Center. High Hopes is alongside a preschool and kindergarten that includes both typically developing peers and children with special needs educating alongside each other, maintaining a 40/60 ratio of children with and without diagnosed special needs. Throughout my time at High Hopes I saw a large variety of diagnoses, from kids 3 weeks to 21 years. I spent half of my week doing feeding therapy, with a focus on sensory-based eating approaches and weaning children from feeding tubes. The other half I spent working with AAC devices and expressive/receptive language and articulation. Pediatric feeding with Dr.Traughber prepared me so well to do feeding therapy, my supervisor even told me to tell Dr.Traughber how well of a job she did preparing me for my offsite experience. I was able to follow along really easily because I understood what she was doing and discussing with patients, while also learning so many new things.”

Thank you for sharing, Lauren!

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HUSSHA Happenings- Relay for Life, Carnival, and Hippotherapy

Read below about some of the events HUSSHA has participated in so far this semester (2021):

The Harding University Student’s Speech and Hearing Association (HUSSHA) is an organization in which the CSD department students get involved in the community and bring awareness to various speech, language, and hearing disabilities. As co-service director for HUSSHA, I have been privileged to compose a variety of service opportunities for our members to participate in. The most recent opportunity was the campus wide event, Relay for Life. This event is hosted by the American Cancer Society and is held all over the world. On campus, the different social clubs and department organizations set up individual booths lining the front lawn, and they sell items for the cause of cancer for 12 hours. HUSSHA sold “Walking Tacos” and stickers, and what a fun night we had! Thanks to the donations sent from members in HUSSHA and the student body for their purchases the night of Relay for Life, HUSSHA was able to raise $850. As a smaller organization, this was a great achievement, and we are so excited to find other ways in which HUSSHA can make an impact.

Another event we have been a part of this year is the Carnival at Harding Place. The members of HUSSHA were able to go serve the retired community by helping with Carnival games such as ring toss, fishing, and face painting. Interacting with this population is so important, and we were thankful to bring some joy to their day. Also, another volunteer service that HUSSHA members are consistently a part of is Stirrups and Smiles. This is a Hippotherapy service provided to the Searcy community to help children with PT and SLP needs. Our members serve as side walkers as they walk next to the client that is riding the horse during their therapy. No matter if the service opportunity is related to Speech-Language Pathology or not, HUSSHA is always striving for improvement in the community.

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- White River Medical Center

Sydney Elliott shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

“I completed my summer clinical practicum in the acute care inpatient hospital setting at White River Medical Center. I saw patients throughout the hospital – from the intensive care unit to observation. Although patient diagnoses varied greatly, the most common diagnoses for patients I treated included stroke, COPD exacerbation, respiratory distress, urinary tract infection with altered mental status, or hyponatremia. I also treated several individuals with a history of head and neck cancer, tracheostomy placements, or recent extubations. On a typical day, my caseload ranged from 5 to 12 patients. I also completed roughly 3 videofluoroscopic evaluations each week.

The first order of business each day was to complete clinical swallow evaluations for patients who were NPO. During these evaluations, speech, language, voice, and cognition were also assessed. Instrumental assessments were not frequently conducted, but videofluoroscopy was ordered when indicated. Patients often required additional services after the initial evaluation, but many patients also demonstrated no deficits and did not require additional services. After completing evaluations for NPO patients, I moved on to evaluate patients already placed on a diet by a physician. The final section of my caseload each day included patients receiving treatment rather than evaluation. Treatment often included direct therapy to improve swallowing, intervention to improve cognition, exercises to improve motor speech, or receptive/expressive language tasks for aphasia.

I am so grateful for my time at White River, my supervisor, and the knowledge that I gained. I am also thankful for the HU SLP program and the preparation I received for this placement. Despite any nerves I had, my coursework thus far left me completely prepared to evaluate and treat patients with a wide range of diagnoses.”

Thank you for sharing, Sydney!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- Monette Manor

Sydney Eddleman shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

“I became familiar with Monette Manor when I asked to be placed closer to my hometown. Monette Manor is a skilled nursing facility in Monette Arkansas. On a typical day, I worked with 6-9 residents, alongside physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, dietary personal, and client’s families. I evaluated and treated client’s with swallowing problems, Parkinson’s disease, strokes, and cognitive impairments. I got to know most of the residents and enjoyed visiting and checking on them during the day. My previous offsite clinical placement in undergraduate prepared me for this experience because I got to work alongside a number of different professionals. It is so much different than school and projects you do with other students. Getting to work with and learn from professionals that love their field as much as you do was encouraging and rewarding. I learned so much from my supervisor at Monette Manor that I will be able to apply to my classes and future career.”

Thank you for sharing, Sydney!

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Elective Graduate Course- Medical Aspects of Speech Language Pathology

Sydney Elliott shares about her experience taking the elective Medical Aspects of Speech Language Pathology class:

“The medical SLP class is an elective course that is offered in the summer term. I decided to enroll in the course, and I would recommend it to any student considering a career focusing on medical aspects of speech-language pathology. I also feel that many of the topics discussed in this class are relevant across the SLP scope of practice. My favorite topic that we discussed in this class was related to social determinants of health. There are so many factors that are involved in a person’s overall well-being, and I appreciated the new perspective that I gained. We also worked with the nursing department learning to take vital signs and evaluate chest x-rays. We also split into groups and were able to dive into the literature about topics of our choosing that relate to medical aspects of speech-language pathology. My group researched medication interactions and modifications as they relate to individuals with dysphagia. Overall, I think that this class helped me further study topics that were not addressed in other courses and gain a better understanding of the role of the SLP in healthcare. “

Thank you for sharing, Sydney!

If you are interested in learning more about other CSD courses offered, click the link below:

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- UAMS

Summer Burmeister shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:

“I was placed at UAMS for my summer offsite experience. My experience was that of an in-patient hospital setting. The majority of the caseload was dysphagia, but I also gained some experience with cognition, language, and speaking valves. It was mostly evaluation, with some treatment as our caseload and patient hospital stay allowed. The day would start with chart review. I would review the history of new patients, and make sure nothing new had happened with current patients. Then, we would go conduct various evaluations and treatments. New swallow evaluations always took priority over everything else. Depending on how busy the day was, we would document some in-between patients, or we would wait to document before lunch. After lunch, we would go back for more evaluation and treatment. The end of the day consisted of finishing documentation. This was my first experience in a medical setting and, in many ways, my first experience with adults.

My dysphagia class really helped prepare me for this experience. Having this offsite experience so soon after taking dysphagia helped with my understanding and application of the material. I learned so much this summer, not only about the field of speech-language pathology, but also about the medical setting and interprofessional collaboration. This experienced helped me learn what it means to serve others who are in need and suffering. My compassion for others grew even deeper. I saw many people selflessly caring for others. It was always humbling to walk into the room of a patient who was clearly pain and going through a hard time, but they always seemed to have a smile and a kind word for me. I really enjoyed my time at UAMS. I was able to work around some amazing SLPs, and my clinical skills and knowledge as a future SLP grew immensely from the experiences I had.”

Thank you for sharing, Summer!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- Action Therapy Services

Brylee Black shares about her summer 2021 externship experience:

“This summer, I had a great experience with Action Therapy Services in Fort Worth, Texas. I actually had two supervisors and I learned a lot from both of them. I actually worked with this home health company as an SLPA before I attended graduate school and it was cool to see ‘the other side’ within the same company. I was able to see up to 12 kids each day and their caseloads consisted of treating a variety of language, articulation, and AAC. I was able to collaborate with other disciplines such as ABA therapy and OT, as well as collaborate with one of my supervisors SLPA’s and co-administer assessments with the SLPA as a translator. I enjoyed learning other ways to target goals and treating their clients. My days were fairly busy but I enjoyed seeing the progress that has been made in just 6 short weeks.

I would say that what prepared me the most with Harding’s program was clinical practicum. Every night, I would spend about 1-2 hours preparing for the next day so I could debrief with my supervisors not only the goals that I was planning on targeting for the sessions, but how I planned on targeting them. Sometimes the things I had planned didn’t work out the way that I thought that it would but that’s how you learn!”

Thank you for sharing, Brylee!

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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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Mostly Sweet But Tinged With Sadness- Kaulyn Loe

Kaulyn Loe shares about her Zambia Experience this past summer:

“Zambia. Where do I start? What do I write to express the beauty, the joy, the heartache, the kindness, and the love that I experienced in this beautiful country for six weeks this summer?

            I’ll start with a sad story. It took me two weeks to meet a Zambian who didn’t smile. She was a young mother of a toddler with cerebral palsy (let’s call the daughter A), and she had brought A to Namwianga for 6 weeks so A could get physical therapy. She had to leave school when A was born and would like to return to school to become a nurse, but she couldn’t because she didn’t have anyone to care for A. She said that she has “many problems because of A.” Dr. Meeker and Mrs. Walker went to the physio clinic three days a week to work with A on feeding skills, and we each got an opportunity to join them for a session. I was lucky enough to be the first student to go and was able to go a second time at the end of our trip, so I got to see A’s progress over the course of our time there. A made considerable progress, but the greatest change was in her mother. As I said before, A’s mother didn’t smile at all when I first met her. She sat on the physio table and barely watched A during therapy. She would participate when prompted, but for the most part, she just sat there, drawn into herself. At the last session, she smiled and played with A, she watched as Dr. Meeker massaged A’s face and learned to do some of those stretches herself, she was invested, she had more hope. Despite all of the hardships she’d endured in her young life, she was able to find joy and encouragement through the work of the therapists at the physio clinics and the brief time we spent with her and her daughter.

            Now for a happier story: The Haven. The Haven is a facility that cares for children whose families cannot currently provide for their needs. Their biggest goal is to reunite these children with their families as soon as possible. Think of it more as foster care in the U.S., rather than an orphanage. The Haven consists of 3 houses each Haven house has a group of Aunties, and each Auntie is paired with a few children who she is primarily responsible for, like a foster mother. Each house also has house parents, who help care for the children and manage the general needs of the house to make sure everything runs smoothly. At the Haven, every child feels loved and valued. Probably the most frequent questions asked at the Haven are “Who made you?” and “Tell me the Truth,” depending on a child’s age. There’s nothing purer than hearing a toddler scream “God did!!!” when asked who made them, or a child reciting the Truth: “God is good. Nothing is impossible. Jesus already won. Everyone is important. I am God’s treasure. I am the one Jesus loves.” You may think that the idea of a facility like the Haven sounds sad or disheartening, but the Haven is a place of joy.

            The best way I can think to summarize my time in Zambia is that it’s like Litmus Lozenges in the book Because of Winn-Dixie—mostly sweet but tinged with sadness. In Zambia, the people find joy and share what they have, no matter the circumstances. While I was glad for the material comforts so graciously provided by the Zambians at Namwianga, I also felt incredibly ashamed by my privilege. I had so much and was being given more, while I was surrounded by people who had so little and gave so freely. In Zambia, I felt useless and helpless most of the time, but leaving Zambia, I want to change the world. I hope to use the very privilege I was/am ashamed of to give back to the Zambians who need so much and ask for so little.”

Thank you for sharing, Kaulyn!

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