Sarah McClure

Community Health Pavilion Washington, Indianapolis, IN

image of Sarah McClure

Sarah works as a Speech Language Pathology Graduate Student Clinician at her practicum.

Why did you choose this placement?
I chose this placement because I wanted to start making connections in the area for my post-grad life and because I think it will give me good clinical experience. I want to work with the pediatric population and this placement will allow me to do that. This placement will have a diverse caseload so I will gain clinical experience with individuals with disorders I have only been able to read about up to this point, as well as gaining more experience with populations I have worked with before. I have worked with children with ASD prior to this placement, but I will be able to work with more individuals from this population. I am interested in working with this population after graduation and this placement will give me more opportunities to practice my current skills as well as gain new ones. 

Outline of your role and responsibilities at your practicum.
For this placement I will steadily be taking on my supervisor's caseload until I have the whole caseload for the final portion of the placement. Each week I add a few patients to my caseload. Once a patient is "mine," I am responsible for planning and running the therapy sessions, and writing the notes at the end of the sessions. I will also write the progress notes for these clients, which summarizes their progress over a 90 day period. Another responsibility is to talk to the families to see what they have practiced at home, any changes in the child's speech/language, and anything else pertinent for us to know. At the end of the sessions I also report to the family what we worked on, how the child did, and explain the homework we want the family to work on during the week. I have to be knowledgeable about each client and their diagnosis so I did chart reviews at the start of my placement to familiarize myself with their individual needs. I will also do evaluations on new clients which involves picking an assessment(s), asking intake questions, writing the report, and forming goals for the client. My supervisor observes all of my sessions and reads any paperwork so she can provide any feedback that I may need as I continue to grow as a new clinician.

Describe a challenge you have faced thus far in your practicum.
A challenge I have faced in this practicum is integrating newly learned concepts into therapy. I am working with a few clients with childhood apraxia of speech and I have not worked with this population before. We have discussed this population in class but we did not have time to go into great detail on every topic. My supervisor has provided me with great resources so I can quickly study up on different treatment approaches and strategies. It can be difficult to read about these strategies and then quickly put them into practice. It is very helpful though to see how the strategies work with each client. I have learned so much in such a short time! Learning to integrate what I have read into actually therapy always takes a little bit of time before it really starts to make sense and feel more natural. At this point in my practicum I am starting to feel more comfortable using these strategies but I know I still have much more learning to do! 

How has Saint Mary's College prepared you for this practicum?
My responsibilities have increased in my final placement compared to previous placements. With this placement I was able to take over the caseload more rapidly, and with that came an increase in paperwork. I felt prepared to keep up with the paperwork from time management skills I learned throughout the program. It was easy to transition from managing my time to complete all of my school work to managing my time to plan therapy and keep up with paperwork. I have also been able to practice professional writing throughout all of my clinical experiences at Saint Mary's. This helped me to write notes independently and not spend too much time going back to revise previous notes after they were reviewed by my supervisor. This is just one example of how Saint Mary's prepared me for my clinical placement.  

If you could go back to the beginning of this externship, for what would you tell yourself to be prepared?
Well the obvious answer is that I should be prepared for my externship to end early due to a pandemic! I would tell myself to use every second of my time to learn as much as possible before being sent home early. Other than the pandemic, I would tell myself to be better prepared for the excess free time I would encounter on a few days when we had several no-shows or cancellations. I wish I would have had therapy materials ready to work on/create for my future self to better use the time. Extra free time is not common during a typical week as an SLP so I wish I had a better physical or mental list ready. That way, I could have been more productive during those rare slow days. I could have used that time to create some fun and novel activities for my clients to make their session even more interesting for the following week. I now try to keep a general to-do list in my phone so I can be better prepared for sporadic free time.