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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!

Summer Volunteer Opps

16 Jun

This pdf lists quite a few volunteer opportunities for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology students. There are available in several states, like Ohio and Indiana. Even if you are unable to do these opportunities due to distance, they can still help you conjure ideas for possible placements in your neck of the woods!  (Sorry it´s a link, I tried to make it into a picture, but my computer doesn´t want to place nice today.)

 

Click Here: Summer Volunteer Opps!

SLP Skills Saturday #4: Innovative/Creative

15 Jun

Guess what day it is?! It’s Saturday, and this Saturday is special because today I’ll be posting another blurb in the series “SLP Skills Saturday”! So get ready…

 

One of the biggest draw to this career, for me at least, is the ability to be creative in therapy sessions. Now, some might think… how can you be innovative when you are teaching others how to swallow or speak? Well, each client is different and has their own special needs. This means that not every client with Autism Spectrum Disorders or stuttering or pronunciation difficulties will exhibit their disability in the same fashion. Just as all students learn differently, all clients have their own personal obstacles that have their own rehabilitation techniques to conquer said difficulties. So, although you may be working with a group of students with Autism or a stroke victims group for those with Aphasia, not each person will learn the therapy techniques in the same way or time frame. So you need to be creative in your approaches in order to customize them per client for optimal success.

 

As I just slightly mentioned, there’s also the need for creativity in the therapy plan itself. You need to think of different ways in which to help the client overcome his/her communication or swallowing difficulty. Sometimes several techniques need to be utilized before you find the perfect fit for that person. This is when creativity is vital. Sometimes it’s the last idea that proves to be the best.  Not to mention, it’s fun to let your mind come up with new ideas and materials for sessions. I know that when I babysit, I enjoy thinking of out-of-the-box ideas for crafts and games with the children, and that may just help with my future career!

 

This is just a small glimpse into how creativity is a fun and integral part of this occupation. I’m sure there’s plenty more ways in which innovation is a good skill to have in this occupation.

Professional Network of a Speech-Language Pathologist: Audiologist

10 Jun

Although it may seem as though it’s a one (wo)man team for diagnosing and treating those with communication and swallowing deficits, there’s actually much more to it. Each patient is completely unique and typically requires more than one professional in his/her care team. Of course, not all will need what seems like an entire hospital staff, but many clients that a SLP may come across may have at least one other professional.

There’s also an exception to every rule. The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), the country’s association for SLPs, Audiologists and related researchers, recommends/requires that an audiologist exams an individual who has a suspected communication or swallowing disorder as part of a Speech-Language Pathologist’s assessment.

Why? It does seem a little odd. Why would a hearing and balance doctor need to assess someone who possibly can’t swallow or speak effectively? How do ears affect your mouth or talking? Well, they may not affect swallowing as much, but they are a vital part of the “Speech Chain” [picture below]  as my one professor calls it. Ears are an intensely vital part of the communication system. Just take a moment and imagine trying to have a conversation with a person while having headphones on… is their speak muffled? or maybe you can’t even hear them at all? This sort of segues into why an audiologist is a key participant in a SLP’s professional and assessment network. They must assess whether (especially for young children or those in an accident) there is an obstruction or other issue with the auditory system that is creating the communication deficit. If so, then it could just be that the person needs a hearing aid or some other action to fix the issue and won’t require speech therapy. That’ll help identify the issue correctly and save the client time and money.  If the client doesn’t have an auditory issue, or still wants/requires speech therapy for other reasons, then the SLP may assess the patient further to find the best therapy plan. There’s also the chance a client may require both professionals as part of his/her therapy plan, with management and reassessment as time goes on.

This is just one professional that a SLP will most likely work with in the course of his/her career. I’ll be sure to write about others as time goes on! Hope this was interesting and helpful!

 
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What’s Up Wednesday: Organization/Study Methods

3 Apr

As any aspiring professional, or at least I hope, I’m on a mission to gain as much knowledge as I can about my future profession. I want to learn it and retain it, every little bit. I just have some slight issues: note organization and retaining the mass of information. I’m able to remember the gist of things, and most details, but I want to remember it all so I have a great repertoire to draw from. As for organization, my notes from past and current classes are slightly organized in a few folders, but I’d like to have them better filed for reference. So how do I plan about doing these tasks? Here’s what I’ve come up with:

I know I tend to learn by writing, so this may seem tedious for some. But for me, this should lead to positive results:

-Take notes in class and from readings, either in a 5 subject notebook or one notebook for all classes (you’ll see why this doesn’t matter as much later). Star/Highlight anything said multiple times or pointed out by teacher.

-Re-write these notes more neatly, and more organized, in the designated single subject notebook for each class/topic.

  • color code all things that were starred/highlighted from notes: blue for terms/definitions; green for concepts; red for extra information pointed out or that seems important; yellow for assessment/treatment tests and techniques

– When it’s near test time, re-write the notes in a summarized form, with the most important information. This will be used to study for tests (and re-read the full notes a few times as well).

-Make note cards to use for random practice throughout year to stay up-to-date on information.

-Place the single-subject notebooks and any handouts in an accordion folder/ small box for safe keeping and future reference. If there is extra room in single-subject notebook, then rip out pages and place them in a folder with handouts to put in accordion folder. The extra pages can then be used for another subject, and the folder will save space in the accordion folder/box. Be a tree hugger!

I’m hoping that by using this system I can be more well organized and create a way to store/ review information when needed in the future. Hopefully you find this, or an adapted version, helpful for your studies!

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

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