Meadow Lane Elementary School, Hamlin Elementary School, & Lawn Manor School, Chicago, IL
Shana works as a Speech Language Pathology Graduate Student Clinician at her practicum.
Why did you choose this placement?
Since I decided to pursue a career in the field of speech language pathology, I have been motivated to work in a school setting. I have always been passionate about academia and working with children, so this placement is a perfect merge of the two. I am humbled to have the opportunity to complete this placement in my hometown, learning and growing in a community that means a great deal to me. I am grateful that the Saint Mary's SLP graduate program affords me the opportunity to complete my dream placement this semester.
Outline of your role and responsibilities at your practicum.
At my practicum placement, I am responsible for evaluating and treating children ages 5-13 who have speech, language, and communication impairments. I have been fortunate enough to provide articulation, fluency, motor speech, receptive/expressive language and social communication intervention to students within this placement thus far. I implement goals and intervention methods that are linked to each student’s curriculum to facilitate learning and progress within their academic environment. I am also a part of an interdisciplinary team which seeks to meet the needs of each student. In collaboration with the individualized education plan (IEP) team, I structure student’s IEPs as well as meet with parents to discuss their children’s goals/progress. I work alongside teachers and other school professionals to ensure that students are reaching their full potential and thriving in the least restrictive environment.
Describe a challenge you have faced thus far in your practicum.
One challenge I have encountered in my placement thus far is when recommendations I make have been in opposition to that of a colleague or parent(s) of a child I am providing services to. This challenging scenario, although stressful, has taught me important lessons regarding my role as part of a collaborative team dedicated to serving children and families. It is a balancing act between being confident in the specific knowledge and clinical skills I have to offer while remembering that the colleagues/parents I collaborate with also possess their own clinical skills/valued information. Furthermore, parents are often the most prominent source of information regarding their child(ren), so I always respect and value their opinions/viewpoints. To effectively manage this challenge, I do my best to provide education and rationale for my recommendation, while being sensitive to the needs and feelings of both my colleagues and the parent. In most situations, I have found that active listening and being a ‘team player’ have served me well and led to effective solutions. I have also been lucky enough to work with a wonderful team of school professionals and parents who have been supportive of my educational journey as well as supporting me when challenges arise. I am quick to remind myself that these challenging situations are learning experiences that will make me a more competent clinician in the future.
How has Saint Mary's College prepared you for this practicum?
I felt very prepared for this practicum through the curriculum, mentorship, and community provided to me by Saint Mary’s. The coursework I completed throughout this program as well as the previous placements I enjoyed during my time at Saint Mary’s offered me a great deal of valuable knowledge/practice for working with children and adolescents. I had my first pediatric client at the Judd Leighton Speech and Language Clinic, and this experience further ignited my passion for working with children. Saint Mary’s also prepared me for working with a collaborative team and engaging with parents and families. I especially believe Saint Mary’s prepared me to be the kind of clinician I want to be—one who is caring, competent and dedicated to each client. Although this practicum ended earlier than anticipated due to the COVID19 pandemic, I am so grateful for the time I spent learning and growing at each of the schools I have worked at this semester. The knowledge and experience I gained through this practicum will undoubtedly serve me as I enter into my CF year and beyond.
If you could go back to the beginning of this externship, for what would you tell yourself to be prepared?
I would tell myself to be ready for anything because unexpected circumstances can arise at any moment. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly evidence of this. Although the premature ending to our externship was disheartening, it also serves as a pivotal reminder to enjoy our clinical experiences and clients to the fullest. It has made me very appreciative of the time I did have to learn and grow during my externship. It has also filled me with hope for the future when I will take this knowledge and growth into my CFY and beyond. I would also tell myself to be prepared to exercise the flexibility that I cultivated throughout my graduate studies and clinical experiences; this is a skill which I will likely call on time and time again throughout my career. Just as things around us are constantly changing, so too is the field of speech-language pathology. These unexpected circumstances are a reminder to the commitment I’ve made to be a life-long learner and someone who can adapt to the needs of the time. I believe that the love I have for this field combined with the dedication to serving my clients to the best of my ability is a centering point I can always return to when unexpected circumstances arrive. The COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden end to this externship is no exception.