Keeling Health Center, which has long been the clinical site for the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, has undergone renovations in its lower level where students tend to clients.
The waiting room and therapy rooms have been painted and updated.
"It's like a brand new place," said Clarion University CSD Chair and Assistant Professor Kristina Dworek.
In addition to paint and basic updating, the clinic has kept up with necessary improvements for clinic equipment. Dworek said the monitoring system where supervisors watch therapy sessions has been upgraded and they are using new equipment in the voice lab.
"The Clarion University Speech and Hearing Clinic stayed open through the pandemic by offering Speech-Language services to the community through teletherapy," said CSD Professor Mary Pat McCarthy, D.Ed. CCC/SLP.
The program typically has about 100 clients (both children and adults) who seek diagnostic and therapeutic services for speech and language disorders. The clinic is currently serving 60 clients via teletherapy.
- Diagnosis and treatment of language problems
- Speech problems
- Voice problems
- Services for augmentative communication and accent reduction
- Lip reading
- Aural rehabilitation services
Areas of special interest include:
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Developmental apraxia of speech
- Phonological processing and language disorders secondary to learning disabilities
- Neurogenic disorders resulting from traumatic brain injury, stroke, right hemisphere impairment, Parkinson's disease and dementia
The improvements further shine a light on the CSD Department, which offers a B.S. in speech pathology and audiology, a B.S. to M.S. in speech language pathology, an M.S. in speech language pathology and a minor in speech pathology and audiology.
Clarion was one of the first in the commonwealth to offer the five-year B.S. to M.S. program, but unlike other five-year programs, a student can decide to opt out of it if it doesn't suit them and continue on a regular path for undergraduate and master's degrees, Dworek said.
The shortened timeframe was appealing to CSD student Taylor Galigher, who had already obtained credits from the Dual Enrollment program in high school so she could graduate in under than six years.
"For that reason, I was really looking for a 3+2 program," Galigher explained. "I loved that Clarion offered the seamless transition, which takes away the stress of the application and interview process for grad school. I am really happy with my decision. My advisors have been great in developing an individualized plan for me."
The university also offers rolling start dates for graduate school, which allows the program to accept more students into the program.
Regardless of the path students take, graduates are enjoying their work in the field.
Nick Donati ('02, '03G) works as the director of therapy services for Spectrum Transformation Group in Richmond, Virginia. Spectrum is an Interdisciplinary team of psychologists, behavior analysts and speech pathologists working primarily, but not limited to, children with Autism.
"I was brought in a year and a half ago to add speech therapy and eventually occupational therapy to their team," Donati said. "My typical day consists of therapy with children and adults from 0-30-plus years of age with a variety of disorders. Additionally, I manage the caseload of the speech therapy department, complete evaluations and associated paperwork, interact with insurance companies to get services covered, participate in interdisciplinary team meetings and treatment and work on department expansion to include additional services, including occupational therapy."
Another graduate, Rebecca Kruise ('18, '20G), works as a speech therapist in a skilled nursing facility outside of Harrisburg.
"My day includes working with elderly adults with a diagnosis, such as dementia, strokes and Parkinson's, who have trouble swallowing or cognitive communication impairments,"Kruise said. "My favorite part of my day is helping my residents improve their safety and overall quality of life by helping them communicate their wants and needs with staff members, helping them find their rooms or the dining room, or helping them use their phone to call their family members."
Graduates believe they use their CU degrees in practical ways in their careers.
"My degree from Clarion has been invaluable. I have worked in every aspect and area that speech therapy covers including: schools, private practice, skilled and long-term nursing, hospitals and home-health," Donati said. "My degree from Clarion and the experiences and training I received from my professors allowed me to seamlessly transition between areas of focus without difficulty. They gave me everything I needed to walk into any setting with confidence and the knowledge that I could always turn to them if I needed them."
Kruise agreed. "I use my degree from Clarion University every day to meet the varying needs of my residents with evidence-based practices to reach their max potential."
In addition to the education students receive, they also obtain practical experience either through the clinic or other educational experiences.
When COVID-19 derailed clinical experiences for some graduates students, professors found other ways for students to receive meaningful field experiences.
Some Clarion students, via teletherapy, taught English to students in Spain, who have developmental delays. Others participated in English speaking and conversation techniques with students in Jordan via Zoom meetings.
To learn more about the programs in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, visit the website at https://www.clarion.edu/academics/colleges-and-schools/college-of-education-health-and-human-services/department-of-communication-sciences-and-disorders/index.html or contact the department directly at (814) 393-2581.