IUP speech therapy students gain hands-on experience in the department’s simulation lab.
Most speech-language pathology programs in the country generally focus on working with children. The IUP laboratory allows its program to focus on the medical aspect of speech therapy.
âThe American Speech-Language-Hearing Association approved the inclusion of simulation hours in 2016,â said Erin Clark, director of the Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic. âThen in December 2020, University Advancement helped us run a crowdfunding campaign to transform the one-bed hospital room into a four-bed acute care unit thanks to donations from alumni, faculty, staff, etc. students and friends. “
The generosity of both organizations led to a dedicated laboratory space.
“[The lab] revolutionizes the simulation experience offered in the speech therapy program at IUP, âshe said.
The lab allows students to explore a variety of career paths and options during their time at university.
“We have seen students who initially took the major because they wanted to work with children in a school setting make a full shift change to healthcare settings after their experience in the simulation lab,” said Clark.
The lab also allows students to gain practical skills and confidence in their discipline before entering the health field.
âThe acute care component of speech-language pathology challenges many novice clinicians when patients with complex medical needs require services in the complex physical and technical environment of an acute care setting. “
âThis clinical challenge aligns well with the patient safety mission of simulated learning environments where training and learning through trial and error can occur without risk to the well-being of patients,â said Clark.
By having a simulated learning environment, students have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in a low risk environment.
Students who go through the IUP lab experience during their tenure as speech-language pathology students acquire desirable skills for employers that allow them to pursue and gain jobs in their field.
“IUP’s speech therapy faculty continues to offer cutting-edge and innovative learning opportunities that are supported by research and, likewise, contribute to research in our field,” she said. declared. âBy the end of the acute care simulation course, students feel prepared and confident for their healthcare placements. “
The fundamental experiences that IUP students bring to their healthcare internships have been positively commented on by site supervisors.
âOur graduates even self-identified as having an advantage in job interviews when describing the medical training they received at IUP,â Clark said.
Students responded positively to this type of hands-on training during their lab experience.
âI loved my lab experience,â said Kristin Legge (graduate, communication disorders, special education, and disability services). âThis lab allowed us to gain hands-on experience with anything and everything we could. “
âI felt supported to learn and make the mistakes that are necessary to practice and learn. Having something this practical before working directly with patients gives us a chance to learn from the mistakes of others, âshe said.
âIt’s so important to have confidence in what you are doing, especially when working with patients. “
Legge praised his faculty and department, attributing them to his mentorship and preparation for his first of two graduate internships starting this fall.
âI cannot imagine starting my internships in large hospitals without the experiences gained in this lab,â said Legge. âNot only do we have things like hands-on medical and school experience, but we also have incredible faculty. “
âThey make sure to give you the best experience in what would be of personal benefit and interest to you,â she said.
“I feel more confident than I ever thought I would.”
For more information on the Department of Communication Disorders, Special Education and Disability Services and its speech therapy programs and lab, visit https://iup.edu/special-ed/.