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The 1000 Piece Puzzle: Picking Your Perfect Grad School Pt. 2

19 Jul

As promised, here is the second edition of hints for picking the pieces to finish your grad school puzzle. These are in no way to be weighed less than the previously posted characteristics for deciding on which programs to apply to/ attend. In fact, some of these may need more consideration than the others. Of course that is for you to decide, but if you wish to see the other list for comparison, then click here. There has also been great comments from others about factors to consider, so be sure to check it out. 🙂

Here is the second list of items that you may want to chew on (but don’t accidentally aspirate on them, please.):

-Opportunities Available: Most of these come down to money, but some come somewhat hand-in-hand with that along with educational gains. Research Assistant – If you wish to engage in research with a professor, make sure the school allows for this. After that, check to see if any faculty are currently open to supervise a student researcher. Most teachers have a limited number of slots for RAs, and those spaces often go to doctoral students. Graduate Assistant – Does the school also have spaces for graduate assistants?  Do they give preference to certain students? The school I currently attend for undergrad only allows alumni undergraduate students to be graduate assistants for the department. Student Teaching/ Teacher’s Assistant – are there opportunities to student teach or be a teacher’s assistant? These could be viable options. They also are great building blocks for your CV and may help with getting a CFY. On-Site Clinic Some universities don’t have on-site clinics. This may not be a huge issue, but having one may provide another site for possble work. Some universities have clinics in which students can work. Student Teaching.

GRE or MAT accepted: Although the majority of schools accept the GRE, some will accept the MAT as well. For some applicants this isn’t an issue, but for those who are not great at timed standardized tests, this can be a huge benefit. Most that do accept the MAT accept it in conjunction with the GRE, though. Luckily, there are some programs that don’t require the GRE, or just a lower score is accepted. For a list of these schools, click here.

Clinical Placements: This one is another multi-colored puzzle piece. First, as mentioned above, is there an on-site clinic? Some studente prefer having an on-site clinic available as a back up if off-site clinic placements don’t work or just for further experience and education. Second, what clinical placements are available? If you are interested in aphasia, are there clinical placements available that may have aphasia placements? What about bilingual/multi-cultural populations? Are there outpatient or inpatient facilities if you’re interested in those? Make sure placements that you want are available.

Research vs Clinical Orientation: There are some schools more research-oriented than clinically-oriented. This may impact your education and placements or opportunities/funding. This may take some dumpster-dive-type searching, but it’s good information to know.

Medical vs Educational Based: Many, many schools are geared towards education setting clinical education. There are few that actually focus on, or are more geared towards, the medical setting. This doesn’t mean both school types don’t offer clinical placements in the other setting or that if you go to one you will have great trouble finding jobs in the other sector, but you may be more well prepared for the specific setting. As far as I know there are a limited number that are medically based, of which you can view a list here. Also, the University of Pittsburgh offers a Clinical Doctorate (CScD) degree that’s medically based. You can find that (and 2-3 other ‘SLP clinical doctorate’ degrees (SLPD)) on ASHA’s EdFind, although I’m not sure if the others are medically-focused.

Specializations/Certificates: Generally, most schools have some sort of specialty. Gallaudet has Deaf Studies; Penn State is known for AAC. Depending on your interests you may want to find a school that fits that. On top of that, some schools offer Graduate Certificates in certain studies. You may want to check into that as well, as they can give you valuable knowledge.

Program Start Date/ Program Length: There are some programs who have Winter, Spring or Summer start dates. A good amount of these are online programs, but there are a some on campus programs who begin at these unconventional times as well.  I’ve also heard of a handful of schools with alternating admissions, admitting students every other year. You also may want to consider program length. This mostly pertains to those without a CSD degree or opt to do online programs, as these generally take an extra semester or two.

Accreditation: Lastly, and what I would argue is the most important piece of the puzzle, the one that ties everything in, is accreditation. MAKE SURE IT IS ACCREDITED by The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). If it’snot accredited by this, ASHA  will not recognize your degree. To find those that ASHA recognizes, you can search for schools viaEdFind.

Once you’ve put the puzzle together and found some viable schools that can fit into it, talk to current or past students. You can find some on the Facebook, GradCafe, and Twitter groups. You can view my post on social media

If you have any hints, tips or pointers as to how you decided between schools, please feel free to share as well!

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

for places to connect to people. You can also attempt to find professionals taht supervise clinicals for your prospective schools– they can give insight on how well prepared students are. This may be harder to do, but worth a shot.

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The 1000 Piece Puzzle: Picking Your Perfect SLP Grad School

13 Jul

Ahh, the joys of being a junior in the education system again. This period in anyone´s education career, high school or undergraduate, can bring on many questions and fears, as well as anxiety and excitement about the future. At least I can say I´m ‘experienced´with this, as it´s my second go around. I get to have to fun of diving into the university searching once again, investigating the options and questioning them later on until I´m certain Ive picked the best ones. At least I have figured out my passion in life and now it is simply finding the best school for my needs and interests, so that helps take a load off my short stature.

There are some similarities in looking for an undergraduate and graduate program, which do make the process somewhat similar and easier to navigate. But as with everything, even grad school searching presents some new challenges as well, such as: Do the ratings count? Medical or Educational focus? What makes a program superb and-or well-known? Are smaller, lesser-known schools just as good? What about online programs? … and I can probably list 100 more questions that have been gnawing at me since I began my search. (I´ve even had some dreams lately regarding graduate school. So the ´fun´just doesn´t end!) … Before you begin to worry, I´m completely fine! It´s simply that my mind loves to keep on thinking, even when my body wishes it´d rest for some well-deserved, non-SLP related sleep.)

I´m certain others are are in the same situation as myself, anxious to begin their search and visit programs, so I´ve complied a list of characteristics that may help narrow down one´s higher education pursuit and create a humongous, personalized grad school puzzle.

Location: There are actually quite a few things related to location that might weigh heavily in one´s decision on graduate school. First: the type of environment the school is in. Some may prefer city life or suburban/rural. And even within that… you may want the suburban feel, but with access to a city for entertainment and clinical opportunities. For me, I know I´d like to stay in the Eastern US due to proximity to family (although going abroad would be sweet). Second: Climate. Each area of the US and Canada is home to it´s own climate. If you´re a hot-weather-lover from Florida who hasn’t seen snow in your life, perhaps attending a university in Canada or New Hampshire isn’t for you. Even along that, you may be accustomed to Pennsylvania´s humid heat, but not Arizona´s dry heat. Third: Connections. Some opt to attend a university in the general area where they wish to work and live beyond graduation. This is great for building local professional networks before graduating!

Online vs In Person: Similar to the location puzzle piece, you may want to consider if you are able to travel and live in a different setting than you are now. Would you rather stay home, find clinical placements in your area and be near the ones you love? Maybe you have a family to take care of and your partner has a steady job that you’d rather not leave. Keep in mind, you may have a higher aptitude for learning in-person than online, or you may not have the self- motivation for solely studying online. Also, due to the increased popularity in online programs over the past few years, they have become quite competitive to be accepted into! Some are also fairly expensive, and don’t allow for research or other educational/funding opportunities.

Results: Check the program’s outcomes on the Praxis, employment and graduation rates. How many of each cohort graduate, pass the Praxis and are employed after obtaining their CCC’s. These are indicators of how well-prepared their students are with the education the school offers.

Size of Program: There are two things under this category that go hand-in-hand: school size and cohort size. Do you want to attend larger or more well-known university? Does having a more recognized school on your resume matter to you? …What about the number of students in accepted into your cohort? Each program allots for a certain number of acceptances, and even then only a fraction of those attend. Cohorts are generally small in this field, but they can still range from something small like 15/20 to a ‘larger’ group of 30/40 (some may be larger, I’m not sure.). All cohorts have their own sense of a family and level of tight-knittedness, depends on how large of a group you feel comfortable with!

Faculty-Research: Make sure the faculty are interested in the same disciplines as you are, especially if you want to research on the side. By having faculty interested in similar things you are, you are open to a wealth of knowledge that you can access and present questions to. If you wish to learn more about bilingual populations but no one in your school is well-versed in that, then how will you gain the knowledge you need to work with that population later?

Cost: For a number of graduate students this is a major issue. Most schools have a lower in-state tuition, which may want you to seek education in your state. Some schools offer great scholarship or assistantship packages. You have to keep an eye out for these types of things when you decipher the patterns in the graduate school puzzle. Of course, some also place cost lower on the pedestal if the clinical placement options are great. It’s up to you to weigh which is more important.

Thesis Option: Do you wish to do a Master’s thesis to research a specific topic you’re intrigued in or to begin your publishing career to build up your doctoral application? Some schools only offer the comprehensive exam option, so you’ll want to make sure it has this option. ALSO make sure the professors are well-published and well-known in their respective fields, and preferably still publishing and researching. You want them to hold PhDs, as well. These are those little color indicators in the puzzle that tell you this school is great for research and still cranking it out with engaged faculty.

 

These are only the edge pieces of the puzzle. Be sure to check back soon for the filler pieces that you may want to consider for completing the puzzle for your perfect school! Good luck to all you #preslp and #slp2b students in your endeavors!

Keeping the “Information Itch” at Bay: Resources for Knowledge

4 Jul
English: Books available for Guantanamo captiv...

English: Books available for Guantanamo captives to read. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since I have a tendency to have trouble not pondering about academics outside of the school year, I’ve managed to find some ways to stay current and read up on some issues within our field. It’s a good way to stay on top of things, become aware of novel(or recurring) issues within the academic and clinical side of Speech-Language Pathology, as well as soothe the itch of entertaining myself til the school year. Like I said before, I’m a nerd, which is good for this profession, in a sense.

Of course one way I’ve managed to keep the beast at bay is through reading other blogs. It’s interesting to see all the different perspective that professionals and students can have about SLP in general, their specialty, or research. In fact, one blogger, Rachel Wynn, has called her fellow bloggers together to spend some time delving into current research and posing their comments on the article they read [1]. This is quite exciting, as she herself points out that many working SLPs often get caught up in all their work, and don’t have much time to peruse through research, which is why she encourages a post once a month, and then she will collect it all into one post for others to skim through other research for information. It’s quite a great, collaborative idea! Besides this, simply reading other blogs and their take on news, research, techniques, apps or daily happenings in SLP is superb as well. I love seeing all the activities that SLPs come up with. If you want to read some blogs, go to the right side of my page where you’ll see some listed; I actually follow many more that aren’t shown due the amount of blogs and space on this blog design. If you’d like to see more, just e-mail me and I’ll share others! You can also check out the top blogs in any Google search. All of this information will help me in my clinical placements, as well as when I’m a working SLP!

There are also some print materials that aid my SLP-information-itch. If you’re a NSSLHA or ASHA member, you should receive e-mails when a new volume of the latest journal are out, as well as have access to them when they are archived [2]. These include the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology (AJSLP) and the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research (JSLHR). Some members may also have access to the American Journal of Audiology (AJA) or Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools (LSHSS). Students are also subscribed to Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders (CICSD) Journal, which has more articles/research relevant this population [3]. All of these have fascinating research on a variety of topics and have different frequencies of publication, ranging from biannual to every other month. If you do not have the means to have a membership, I do believe that abstracts are free, and there is a $10/article fee or $25 to access all archived articles for a day. So if you’d rather just skim through the archives to read the abstracts and purchase those that strike your fancy, then that could be an option as well. But having a membership does serve well, especially for those in school, as you have unlimited access to research for classes!

Another benefit of membership is the access to Special Interest Groups (SIGs) [4]. These are groups where professionals collaborate and discuss themes pertinent to their specialty. Of course you can join more than one of the nineteen groups, but it does cost some money. These groups range from “Aural Rehabilitation and Its Instrumentation” to “Issues in Higher Education” to “Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders” to “Telepractice”. There are plenty more dealing with audiology and it’s components, fluency, gerontology, multiculturalism and language, among others. I’m personally part of “Language Learning and Education” and ” Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Populations”. If I had more money, I would’ve joined a few others as well, since many of them sound interesting! The ones I’m currently in are great, provide so much information… anyway, back to the meat of the post. What these groups offer information-wise are online “Perspectives” which are journals specific to that SIG’s theme, as well as access to discussion boards. I actually get the discussion board correspondences sent to my e-mail. These are extremely helpful, as members bring up issues within the field, as well as for assistance with an issue they are having, which can be helpful to you now or in the long run. Just another way to stay up-to-date on happenings that arise in the profession/ your specialty.

Besides research, there are also newsletters that can help you maintain and gain relevant information. They are also great sources for knowledge on other professionals and sometimes tips for a certain event or problem. The ASHA Leader tends to be more for professionals, but, as I keep hinting at, this can help students learn stuff they might not learn in class as well as shed light on the profession itself. For students, there are also a couple of publications:  NSSLHA In The Loop and NSSLHA Now! Newsletter that publish articles geared towards students within the Communication Science and Disorders realm. They even post CFY listings and accept some articles written by students, so if your creative juices are flowing and you are knowledgable about something of student interest, then have a go and see if you get published! (The CICSD also accepts student research and has a mentoring program.) As with the research journals, these are also archived, just follow the link listed below [5].

Lastly, I’ve become aware of two other opportunities for free-time knowledge quests. First, there’s the ASHA Podcast Series which entail interviews with professionals making strides in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology [6]. I have yet to view these, but once I do I’ll tell you what I think! Second, there are other e-newsletters that ASHA provides which cover several different themes that pertain to all professions under ASHA’s scope [7]. I’ll try to read these over and see if any of them will be added to my reading list. Some seem interesting, so we’ll see!

If this post won’t help your ‘information itch’ then I’m not sure what will! Hope you find some that tickle your fancy and enjoy! Also, if anyone has suggestions of other places for interesting/relevant information, please share!

Related Articles/References:

[1] Blogging About Research : from Rachel Wynn at “Talks Just Fine”

[2] ASHA Journal Archives

[3] CICSD Archives

[4] ASHA Special Interest Groups ‘Perspectives’

[5] ASHA Leader ,   NSSLHA Now! Newsletter  and  NSSLHA In The Loop

[6] ASHA Podcast Series

[7] ASHA e-Newsletters

What’s Up Wednesday: Stroke/ Broca’s Aphasia Headway!

26 Jun

Stroke affects a cast population of people every year. Sadly, numerous stroke sufferers have long-term effects, including speech and language issues. This holds especially true for those who had a stroke in the left hemisphere, where the majority of our communication abilities originate. When there is damage done to this side of the brain, it can lead to Broca’s Aphasia, which is associated with non-fluent speech. In these cases, the person knows what he/she wants to communicate, but doesn’t possess the ability to utter out the entire utterance. In turn, only words or short phrases come out. Other related deficiencies include spontaneous speech, reading and writing, and other communication issues.This condition affects the sufferer’s entire life, as the ability to communicate is vital to daily interactions, which can render the person incapable of holding a job or conversation. Luckily, there has been a decent amount of research on the matter, and one researcher from the University of South Carolina, Dr. Julius Fridriksson, Ph.D. along with his team have found a technique that may be suitable for those with this condition.

 

What he has come to find so far in his preliminary studies, is the possible viability of a technique called speech entrainment. Within this technique, the part that relies on audio-visual feedback seems to prove most promising. The process involves the client to watch and listen to a speaker who talks slowly on an iPod and mimic the speaker simultaneously. Over time, the video portion is taken away and the speaker attempts to speak via audio. In his study with 13 patients, they all went through a 3 week period and practiced speech every day. By the end,the ability to produce spontaneous speech increased, which is superb considering this population of patients rarely see that type of success. So this technique seems to provide some hope for Broca’s Aphasia patients!

 

If you would like to read more, here is the article: http://speech-language-pathology-audiology.advanceweb.com/News/In-The-News/New-Technique-Helps-Stroke-Victims-Communicate.aspx

Dr. Fridriksson also gave a talk on TED about his research and gives some background on Broca’s Aphasia. It includes video of patients talking with this condition, including one who is a severe case and got better after the therapy. It shows his talking with and without the audio-visual feedback, which is neat to watch. It’s only 15 minutes, so here’s the link:  http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Cy6S7aMmUYo

Scouring the Wanted Ads

29 Mar

If you’re like me, you want to know at least some possibilities for the future and where you could be headed once you graduate. Or you could just want to throw some information at your parents about why this is a good degree and how there really is a demand for SLPs and SLPAs almost everywhere (especially schools). Well, in order to feed both your parents or your conscious, there are multiple sites that show current job openings in whatever town you are hoping has openings, as well as the credentials needed, benefits, and sometimes even the pay! There are sometimes CFY postings as well! (Of course, it depends if your area has openings, most likely if you tell the search a specific town and no extra mile radius this will be difficult.. so expand your horizons!)

So here I’ve compiled a (not completely exhaustive) list of possible websites you can scour for openings:

1. ASHA’s Online Career Center

2. SLPjobs

3. JobsSLP

4. Speech Pathology Jobs

5. TopUSAJobs

6. PediaStaff  — also has CFY separately; great to follow on Pintrest– sometimes posts jobs!

7. of course, the typical: Indeed.comCareerBuilder.comSimplyHired

8. Salary.com  — has job postings, AND you can search for salary information based on what area you live and your job!

9. just search on Google for slp jobs and find those hidden openings or staffing agencies

What’s Up Wednesday: Community Literacy/Action and SLP

27 Mar

Currently, as you may know from a past post, I’m taking a class on literacy, the different aspects of it, and the uses of it. In the class we’ve covered that literacy doesn’t just encompass reading, writing, and direct communication… you can have literacy in all sort of things. There’s: cultural literacy, that with is related to the space around you and your heritage; technological literacy, literacy of machines, computers, etc; spatial literacy, how each area/place/space can have its own literacy to understand… the list goes on.

As part of the course, we are now required to create a project pertaining to community literacy that has some involvement and an end product, whether its a book, gallery, website, video, poster, etc. I wanted to relate mine to Speech-Language Pathology, as it is my future profession, and it does entail some aspects of literacy. This can be as direct as dyslexia, or the deeper connections of tying letters and words to certain structures and meaning. (In our class definition, we also included being able to understand and be understood when communicating, which are the parallels to receptive and expressive communication in SLP.

Now, I’ve been thinking about my project a great deal and still am finding some hurdles… mostly dealing with what I want to accomplish (I have a few different ideas) and getting participants. I have 3 options as of now: 1. create a video with professionals and patients pertaining to life  with the disorder/ working with it and bullying. The community literacy aspect would then be educating others about the disorders through this video. 2. Having some sort of reading or writing workshop with a group of individuals with these disorders to promote literacy and perhaps function as a support group. 3. Have each of them draw/write/speak a short story in relation to a subject, perhaps their vision of a hero, then share them with others to promote knowledge about the vast array that these disorders come in.

Originally, my goal was to have something that I could continue after the semester and into following semesters but that is looking unlikely. What do you guys think? Are one of these options plausible? Or what are other ideas? As you see, community literacy can be advocacy as well.

 

If you want more information about how Literacy is something to be considered for SLPs to be knowledgeable in, feel free to see my blog post “Literacy and Therapy.”

What’s Up Wednesday: The SLP’s Role in Bullying

27 Feb

I was perusing through Pintrest earlier, as I do on a regular basis, glancing over new foods and crafts to try, as well as some SLP stuff. That’s when I came across this little ditty, which I think is vital information for a SLP, or anyone working with those who have impediments of any kind. Bullying. Although this brochure mainly pertains to the population of pediatric stuttering patients that are in schools, the general information is relevant to any SLP working with children in a school setting… in fact, I think all SLPs should know this, as medical speech therapy patients, child or adult, will come across some jokes or even bullying, and could use this information. Just knowing that their speech therapist is aware of these non-therapy issues is helpful for patients. (Even teachers and parents need this knowledge about better ways to manage bullying, in my opinion.)

According to Gordon Blood, professionals can use the acronym “STOP IT” to assess, deter and overcome a bullying situation. It goes as follows:

” S- stop the bullying immediately
T-tag and identify the behavior at once
O- offer assistance and social support to the victim
P- present immediate/appropriate consequences for bullying behavior

I- instruct witnesses and bystanders
T- teach students, personnel, parents and friends intervention strategies (Blood, n.d.)”

If we can implement this strategy and hand this poster up in our classes (or entire school), then we are at least taking one step closer to assisting patients who are victims of bullying and teaching others how to act in the situation. We probably can’t erase bullying entirely, but any attempt is better than no attempt!

If you would like more information on stuttering, bullying or stuttering& bullying, then check out the brochure, and the link for The Stuttering Foundation below:

The Stuttering Foundation

Brochure: Bullying & SLPs: Enhancing our Roles as Advocates for Students Who Stutter

Blood, Gordon, PhD. (n.d.) Bullying & SLPs: Enhancing our Roles as Advocates for Students Who Stutter [Brochure]. Memphis, TN: The Stuttering Foundation.

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