Just Open More SLP Programs, OK?


Bellow is a guest post by Brian Goldstein, Ph.D., CCC-SLP (Dean & Professor, La Salle University). His words echo my own thoughts on the issue I frequently discuss on my blog – admittance into SLP graduate programs. He has much to say, and we should all be willing to listen, digest, and act. Read on my dear followers…

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The Discussion

In my almost 10 years as a University administrator, I have had occasion to talk to members of the Board of Trustees at two different Universities. You might expect that main topics of conversation with Board members might have been graduation rates, faculty hiring, new programs, or budgets. You’d be wrong on all counts. The most common topic of discussion with Board members has involved admission into the master’s program in speech-language pathology. As the current Provost of La Salle University says, “it’s easier to get into some Ivy League schools than it is to get into the master’s program in speech-language pathology.” For the Fall 2014 class at La Salle, we had over 400 applications for 18 spots. In 2011-2012, there were 52,339 applications to the 224 ASHA-accredited programs that completed the survey, http://bit.ly/1vY9ril. I’m sure I don’t have to do that math for you. I would suggest you read this report for this and other sobering statics such as average GPA and average GRE score.

 

We are all aware of the fact that the number of applications to SLP programs far exceeds the number of available spots. The questions are why the situation exists and what might we do to obviate it. I, along with many others, am deeply concerned that if we do not start working to fix this issue, then well-qualified students will choose not to go into SLP because they believe they will never get into a master’s program. The time to address this issue is now and there is no time to waste.

The limited number of spots in master’s SLP programs has engendered numerous blog posts (e.g., here, here and here) and Twitter discussions—the latter being the impetus for this blog post. In my experience as Program Director, Department Chair, Associate Dean, and Dean, I thought I would try and bring my perspective to this discussion. Here, I want to focus on 2 main reasons for this bottleneck: (1) faculty and (2) clinical placements.

Faculty

One solution to opening up more spots in graduate programs is to increase the size of the faculty in existing programs and/or hire faculty to open new programs. There’s a problem though. There are not enough faculty. Period. OK, so it’s more complicated than that but let’s start here. In 2011-2012, ASHA (2011, http://bit.ly/1vY9ril) reports that there were openings for 135 full-time faculty, with a projected total of 272 openings through 2017. Approximately, 28% of the openings went unfilled.

What do these data tell us? There are openings for faculty but not enough faculty to fill the available positions. If there are not enough faculty to fill open positions for the programs that exist now, how would it be possible to open any new programs? On a side note, it is expensive to run graduate speech-language pathology programs—from faculty to staff to labs to equipment, etc. The expenses are significant and growing. Back to the faculty issue. Is it possible to educate and hire faculty who do not have a research doctorate? Yes, no, maybe. Take a step back and think about how and where current faculty are educated. They are largely educated in research Universities whose mentors were educated in research Universities and so on. The expectation is that after graduation these individuals will be researchers who teach and not necessarily teachers who do research. Yes, I am generalizing. However, the mode educational paradigm is research faculty educating and mentoring doctoral students in research institutions who will become faculty members at research institutions and perpetuate the line. I freely admit, by the way, that I was of that mindset as well. My sojourn about 5 miles up Broad Street in Philadelphia from Temple University to La Salle University has changed my perspective. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way…

We need different types of institutions to educate a variety of doctoral students using multiple modalities. Yes, online has to be one of those modalities. Is there any reason doctoral students cannot be educated to teach and do some research as opposed to being educated to do research with limited to no teaching experience in their doctoral program? Future faculty can be educated to have significant content knowledge in more than one area and complete a set of research experiences that provide that set of skills as well. Research and teaching would complement each other as they do already with all faculty. With such a (not fully formed) model, mentors would need to alter their perspective on educating doctoral students, and rewards for promotion and tenure would need to be altered as well (that’s for another post though). The other issue is time to degree completion. According to the ASHA report cited above, the majority of students took 4-6 years to complete their doctorate, and 13% took more than 7 years. Taking more than 7 years to complete a doctoral degree simply is not tenable for most individuals. It’s not stated why it took students that length of time but time to degree is definitely a factor that needs to be discussed and addressed.

Clinical Placements

The second main reason that it is difficult to start new master’s programs in SLP is the need for a variety of clinical placements for students. In the same ASHA report referenced above, approximately 45% or respondents indicated that “insufficient clinical placements” had at least a minor impact on enrollment in Master’s programs. So what are those impingements? The impingements center on sites, personnel, and the nature of clinical practicum itself. Site issues include, but are not limited to, (1) not enough clinical sites overall, (2) not enough clinical sites each semester when they are needed, (3) sites limiting themselves to affiliation agreements with only one University, (4) affiliation agreement process (setting up a contract allowing students to complete a practicum experience at that institution), (5) and requests for payments to site supervisors. Personnel issues include, but are not limited to, (1) the need for field supervisors (i.e., the liaison between University and practicum site), (2) not enough staff at sites to supervise, (3) staff at sites who are too busy to supervise, and (4) productivity requirements for site staff/SLPs. Finally, there is the nature of practicum itself. The largely 1:1 model of supervision makes it difficult to place students and appropriately supervise them.

Where do we go from here?

We all recognize that we have an issue. It is an issue that frustrates all stakeholders, including those of us in higher education. Above, I have made some suggestions regarding faculty preparation. I would add one other idea that impacts faculty. In many–but certainly not all—areas, there is more than one SLP program. Programs should consider combining resources to decrease the faculty load and content knowledge pressure on any one program. Such an idea clearly engenders a more detailed and nuanced discussion than I can provide here—perhaps for a future post.

In terms of clinical placements, we, as a profession, have to consider changes as other disciplines (e.g., Nursing) have done and are doing. Is the (largely) 1:1 model effective and efficient? Research on other models, such as the use of simulation in clinical education, should be conducted, and ASHA should be a leader in funding such work.

As a Dean, SLP, and Professor, I welcome comments on this post and further constructive discussion of this most important topic. I have no doubt that we have the will and ultimately will find the way to make progress on this issue.

Author Bio:

Brian A. Goldstein, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences and Professor of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences. Prior to coming to La Salle, Dr. Goldstein served as Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs in the College of Health Professions and Social Work and also as Chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Temple University.  Dr. Goldstein is well published in the area of communication development and disorders in Latino children focusing on speech sound development and disorders in monolingual Spanish and Spanish-English bilingual children.

Follow Brian on Twitter @goldstein25

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About SLP_Echo

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist completing my Clinical Fellowship in Alaska.

Posted on June 30, 2014, in #slp2b, Online SLP Graduate Programs. Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.

  1. Great post Brian. It’s filled with fuel for thought and a couple of levels. I’ve talked with other professors at different universities and they echo your thoughts. I’ve heard many people comment about how programs should “just accept more people” but that’s not always possible. The sheer amount of work that is associated with teaching both undergrad and graduate classes would be daunting in and of itself. The quality of instruction and interaction declines simply because of lack of time and interaction. I think the concept of clinical placements is an aspect that not many people think of as well. In my university, there are typically 2 very lucky graduate students each semester that are allowed the opportunity to work at the local hospital. Two…out of 50.

    The idea of multiple programs in any one area is foreign to me. In ND there are two universities that offer speech-language pathology. They are 4 hours apart. In Montana there is one university that just started offering services again after being without a program for many years. I’m always surprised to see that there are multiple universities in the same city. I suspect those same areas are where so many new graduates are having difficulty finding positions.

    I think the attrition rate and lack of faculty is going to be an issue for a while. Recently I was asked if I wanted to apply for a position that came open (Yes, I desperately wanted to)…Looking at it closer, I realized that I couldn’t afford to work in the university. As a non-PhD candidate, the pay would be significantly less than what I make working in the school systems in rural ND now (which I can tell you is definitely lower than in many areas of the country). I may be able to afford that when I no longer have student loans, but as of right now – even with the added “benefits” of insurance (which I already have) – I simply cannot afford to work as faculty at the university despite a deep desire to do so.

    Unfortunately, pursuing a PhD is not an easy option either. To receive any type of stipend or financial aid, one must typically be physically on campus. Online options are extremely cost prohibitive and often still require an on-campus presence for a semester, which can be very difficult to do – particularly for a working SLP.

    I believe more SLPs would be willing to consider working at a university if 1) the university would consider hiring non-PhD candidates and 2) the pay was at least commiserate with the local public school system. I know many who would gladly work toward a PhD if they would earn a paycheck to support their family while working toward the degree. I know I would. :)

    • Brian Goldstein

      Thanks for your comments, Mary! Our Twitter discussion, most recently started by Megan, prompted my need to write this. I could take each area and write a post on each one as this is a complex topic that has a number of interlocking strands. I’ll pick up on one of your comments and that’s the pay in Universities compared to clinical work. I hear that quite often, especially for faculty candidates in Nursing. I appreciate the comparison and understand why you would need to make it. That said, salaries at Universities are usually for 9-months. Many faculty teach or do clinical work over the summer and/or teach overload during the academic year. Additionally, most Universities allow faculty to “consult” one day/week. My point here is that faculty members are able to supplement their incomes over and above their base pay. Please see my response to Kristen below about hiring non-PhDs.

      • Thanks Brian. I took into consideration the 9 month contract. My pay is also for 9 months (although I have it spread over 12 for budgeting purposes). I have the option of picking up summer work (granted, not quite as much pay as supervising clinic for the summer semester). Unfortunately, even with considering a summer contract, the pay was still a few thousand less than I currently make. Teaching overload was not something that I had considered though. The flexibility of the university system seems like it would be a good thing and I have a deep desire to move into helping others make a difference. I am hopeful that in the next few years, I will be able to take advantage of working in the university system while earning my PhD. As always, I appreciate your insight.

  2. Thank you Dean Goldstein for an intimate look at grad school from the other side. Having experienced this competitive arena as a returning student, it is refreshing to know that universities are examining options and alternatives to an ever increasing dilemma.

    • Brian Goldstein

      Thanks Mai Ling! We really must address this, as I see the problem getting more acute. My biggest concern is losing excellent students to other fields because they think they will not be accepted into a master’s program.

  3. Yes, definitely a great read with lots to think about, so thank-you Dr. Goldstein and also to SLP Echo for hosting. Obviously, there are no simple ideas for such a complex topic, but I just want to add on to Ms. Hudson’s idea that perhaps some of these Universities could hire more Master’s Level Clinicians to take on more of the supervision and teaching duties while at the same time expecting these hires to pursue their doctorate degrees. I think a reduction in pay could even be more feasible if tuition was being funded and one was working toward their doctorate with a clear end in sight. Obviously, this wouldn’t be a fast track to achieving a doctorate degree, as one would need time to supervise and teach, so a considerably longer degree plan would be needed. It seems faculty with their doctorates could be available to teach and mentor the doctorate level students and complete research/administer programs. At the same time more Master’s Level Clinicians who are working on their doctorates could be working for the University covering the teaching and instruction for undergraduate and Master’s level students. This is just my first thought of what seems like it could be a fairly easily implemented option in working on a solution. I also think that more on-line training and innovative options for educating students will hopefully help solve some of these problems.

    • Brian Goldstein

      Kristen, thank you for your comments. The model you suggest–hiring master’s level individuals who are working on the doctorate–does occur, but not typically in our field. It is more common in Nursing where there is a faculty shortage as well. At my own institution, we have such faculty and have moved them to a tenure track position once they complete their doctorate. So, it is a feasible, and we need to consider it in SLP. Thanks again!

  4. I remember when I applied to graduate schools I could only apply to 2 schools. I was married and my husband had a great job that would be difficult to leave (especially when I would be spending and not earning money as a student), so I had to find schools within driving distance. While waiting for acceptance letters, I started creating a backup plan. I knew the numbers were against me (chances to get into grad school). Backup plan options included med school. When I looked at the numbers, it was easier to get into med school that either of the programs I applied to.
    Now I’d love to influence the next generation of SLPs but as an PRN therapist I don’t have the caseload to support a student. I’d love to be full time and not PRN, but the ethical job market doesn’t support that desire. So I’m spending many hours each week working (for free) to try to change the ethical job market.
    I have really considered getting a PhD, but there is a huge amount of risk in pursuing a PhD. There is the opportunity cost of not working for several years. Then will I get a job close to home when I’m finished? I’ve lived in the midwest, south, and mountains (3 entirely different regions of the US) during my adult life and I’m ready to settle in one place. In my prior career I worked at a university (for 5 years). I know people stay in those jobs for a long time. It could be years between when I’m a job candidate (with a PhD) and when I get a job close to home.
    When I worked in university admissions, one of the reasons we were told for the nursing educator shortage was pay. Nurses (and I imagine SLPs) can make more money outside the university. With the ~5 year PhD, uncertain job opportunities, and decreased pay, becoming faculty member may not seem like an attractive option for most. I have a good friend who has a PhD in another field. Her income isn’t enough to sustain her single household with our high cost of living in Boulder ($300k for a 1000 sq ft condo). She lives constantly tapping into her savings from a previous corporate job and knowing it’s impossible for her to raise a child while working at the university. She will have to leave the university if she wants to build a family.
    As I think about how we can try to do more with the resources we have presently, I’ve noticed that some of the undergrad communication disorder programs are huge, while the grad program at the same university is small. What would it look like to even things out a bit? Faculty and staff resources that were focused on undergrad students could be shifted to graduate students.
    I’m also wondering about the use of SLPAs in adult rehab. I know SLPAs are used in some school systems and ECI programs, but I’ve never met an SLPA working with adults. I know Medicare won’t reimburse for services provided by SLPAs, but why not? Medicare will reimburse for services provided by COTAs and PTAs.

    • Brian Goldstein

      Rachel: You have raised a number of very interesting and important points. I completely understand why individuals from clinical backgrounds make the salary comparison between what they earn as a clinician and what they would earn in higher education. These are two different jobs with different pay scales. One has to choose higher ed for its own sake. In higher ed, there are many ways faculty supplement their incomes: summer teaching, overload, consulting, etc. If you happen to work at an institution that grants merit pay, raises can be significant. At La Salle, faculty receive a 10% increase when they are promoted from Assistant to Associate Professor and from Associate to Full. Thanks again for commenting!

  5. Brian, I echo many of your thoughts. It becomes more and more difficult to hire faculty, and even if we could, we all know that we can’t train clinicians in a lecture hall. I teach at an institution that does not offer a doctoral degree; we train clinicians, and we do it well. However, it is my opinion (after coming out of a PhD program that did so) that many R1 programs encourage their graduates NOT to work at institutions such as ours. “You’ll never make a name for yourself as a researcher at a place like that.” If the focus is on “researchers who teach” as opposed to teachers who also do research, how are the future clinicians being trained to work with our mothers/fathers/grandparents in the hospital/nursing homes and with the kids in our schools? Where is the priority for that training? That falls on the clinical supervisors…. which also is its own financial problem, as another huge issue in graduate programs is the sustainability of a university clinic that functions in a setting already operating under a deficit. It’s particularly problematic in an area of a state where things are rural and poverty is an issue. The idea of pooling resources or creating other tracks for instructional faculty are items being discussed. It’s hard when your university has policies that make such flexibility difficult to impossible. This is an important discussion to have and continue; thanks for your post….Pam Smith

    • I remember talking with the chair of my department as an undergrad student about whether or not to work toward a PhD. As an older-than-average student, I knew I needed to have my ducks in a row, as it were. That individual told me in no uncertain terms that I would be foolish to do so…that there was no way he would encourage anyone to work toward a PhD as the pay and rewards were much better in a clinical setting.

    • Brian Goldstein

      Pam: Thanks for commenting! I agree with you that some faculty mentors actively discourage their doc students from going to non-R1 institutions. That has to stop. I have many doc students who know they don’t want to go to an R1, even as doc students. Mentors should encourage all doc students to be sure they understand the tripartite mission of research, teaching and service and prepare them for those roles. You’re right that Universities have to be open to new ways of doing business. It’s imperative.

  6. Heather Jeng

    Great post, Dr. Goldstein! And thank you to SLP_Echo for facilitating the conversation. I, too, am concerned about these issues. I am very excited to be starting a doctoral program this fall, after seven years in the clinical world. People who are familiar with the workings of the university often ask me, “Are you going to do research or teach?” The divide between the two, and the sense that even if one does both, one is either *really* a researcher or teacher but not both, is troubling to me. I sincerely want to do both, and do both well, but I have some fear that my interest in pedagogy will label me a teacher and that some will not take me seriously as a researcher as a result. Can you speak to navigating this divide as a doctoral student and eventual newly minted PhD? I also worry that the difficulties of doing both well –keeping up on the SoTL literature in addition to one’s specialty area research program, having time to devote to course development, etc.–are perhaps untenable, given what I understand of the current tenure process. And lastly, to tie into what Mary Huston’s post above, a significant part of my decision to return for a doctoral degree despite still having student loans to pay off is that I do not have children to support, and do not plan to have children during my degree program (at least, that’s the plan!). In a female-dominated field, during a time when women disproportionately are primary caregivers for children, it seems like our field needs some out of the box solutions for getting qualified candidates who have children back into academia for the doctorate.

    • Heather: Great points! I too am troubled by the false dichotomy. My teaching informs my research and vice versa. Most faculty I talk to say the same thing. Please try and get teaching experience in your doc program—if it can be face-to-face and online, all the better. Also, begin to think what courses can you/do you want to teach? Get a teaching mentor and ask that individual to guide you through the process for developing, mounting, and teaching a class. Also, if your University has a teaching and learning center, go and visit and get assistance and materials so when you are ready to develop courses, you have some background and resources. Observe classes–inside and outside your department–of excellent teachers. Focus less on the content and more on the pedagogical techniques and approaches. Finally, learn your Universities learning management system (e.g., Blackboard, Canvas, etc.). Finally, read books about great teaching. I think if you do those things, you will decrease the chasm between teaching and research and be even more marketable to Universities once you’re on the job market. Good luck!!

  7. Nancy fell cohen

    This is the same problem that is happening for PTs and OTs as well. There are a lot of great young students out there who want a career and can’t get into a grad program.

  8. Thanks Brian and Katie for starting this discussion. I am currently in my 3rd year of a 3 year doctorate program at the U of Calgary. It’s a Doctor of Education (EdD) and it’s designed for professionals that are still working. When I’m done, I hope to teach at a uni that has an SLP program and an Education program so I can do some interprofessional education between the two faculties. And I am looking at American universities :). Regarding clinical placements, ASHA would be smart to loosen their criteria on having an SLP with their CCCs be the only option for supervision. I have a team of 35 SLPs at my school board and yet only 3 of them are ASHA certified. I do host Anerican students but obviously only a limited amount each year. If ASHA has a reciprocal agreement with SAC (CDN association), all SLPs in my province have to be registered with ACSLPA (regulatory body), and Canada and US SLP programs have similar accreditation guidelines, why can’t ASHA recognize CDN SLPs as qualified clinical supervisors? It would open up so many other options for placements. Also, I agree with looking beyond 1:1 supervision. England has been doing doing peer coaching and supervision and it works really well. We tried it this year and really liked it. It actually takes a lot if pressure off of the supervising SLP. I agree that something has to change or our field will suffer. Thanks for opening the discussion.

    • Sharon: Yes, yes, and yes! At this past year’s conference for SLP Graduate Program Directors, faculty from my institution presented on changing rules for supervision. We simply must change our practices if we want tackle this issue. Clearly, we don’t want to undermine quality but our methods are not the only ones in clinical fields. For example, Nursing uses simulation. We need to look at other fields for how they operate and incorporate those best practices without harming patient/client care. Thanks again!

  9. This article highlights the need for more PhDs. Another way to address the number of available and qualified faculty is to create more opportunities for clinicians to get doctoral level clinical degrees (degrees whose training requirements reflect the complexity of the disorders we’re responsible for diagnosing and treating). I’m not sure how we arrived at a situation where researchers are in charge of training clinicians. They seem to me to be two separate, although related, fields. Both are necessary but the assumption that someone can train someone else how to be a good clinician when they haven’t put in the thousands of hours necessary to really understand the job is questionable. I know lots of clinicians who would get a clinical doctorate degree but not a research degree. The PhD simply doesn’t reflect the aspirations of a certain section of the SLP population who want to better themselves. Placing more SLP’s with doctoral level clinical training into our universities would not only address the needs of future students it would also address the needs of our clients who deserve therapists trained by other seasoned therapists.

    • Mike: Thanks for your comments. I agree with your sentiments although I would say that most faculty in SLP programs did/do work as clinicians. So, they are not bereft of clinical experience. It might not be years and years, but most do have that experience. As I mentioned in the piece, we do need to re-think doctoral education in our field. It’s time to consider a number of alternatives. Thanks again!

      • Thanks for putting your ideas and concerns out there in a public forum and to SLP Echo for facilitating. Simultaneously providing more opportunities for students to enter the field and improving the quality of training programs seems pretty daunting…

  10. Really Enoyed this! These next 10 years should be interesting!

  11. I appreciate your input, point of view and factual information. I work in the schools and I have had 2 undergraduates work with me as SLP-A’s. Both were awesome but unfortunately, in our state, they can only work as SLP-A’s for two years by law. After that, it is implied that they should be in graduate school or they are not good enough for graduate school.
    I have often toyed with the idea of a PhD, but there are NO schools around where I live (looking 4-5 hours out) that allow for part time PhD students, and none that do distance learning. Even if I were to get a complete scholarship/grant combo (can’t afford loans), I still couldn’t make it while raising my family. This frustrates me, because I think it would be great fun and awesome experiences to work part time at a university and part time with school children (my first and greatest love). I also know that I do not want to completely leave working with school students–so full time is not really compatible.
    I guess my biggest question is why the speech-pathology undergraduate programs have so many in them. IF we know that there is a 14 to 200 ratio of admittance (in your case/example), why, oh why, do we even invite so many to go through undergraduate programs??? I have heard of 3-5 undergrads who have given up in the last 2 years alone….it makes me sad. What else can those of us at Master’s levels do?

    • Sally: Thank you for commenting! At La Salle, we limit the number of students in our undergraduate program for just that reason. The students need to maintain a certain GPA to stay in the Program because we know that if they don’t, it is highly unlikely they will get into a graduate program. Universities have policies about minimum requirements to stay in a major and in the University. So, if students meet those criteria, they have to be allowed to stay in a major (all majors, just not SLP). Students–and their parent!!!–know there are SLP jobs once they get out of grad school and so students flock to our field because of that. In some days, we are a “victim” of our own success. When you encounter students in undergrad programs, perhaps tell them what I tell do: you cannot take a class off, an assignment off, a test off, a day off, a week off, a month off, a semester off. Get great grades and go above and beyond classes—volunteer, work in a research lab, observe, etc. Thanks again!

  12. Dr. Goldstein,
    I find this topic extremely enlightening and integral to the development of future SLPs and the progression. Hence, it was the topic of my doctoral dissertation that was just completed. I will be happy to forward you the link once it us uploaded to the database. As an individual that just received an SLP.D., I find it interesting that some universities will not hire me as faculty due to the fact they are not considering the SLP.D. To be a terminal degree, I have to disagree, but that’s for another time! Right there, universities are missing the opportunity to hire qualified individuals for the many open faculty positions that you eluded to.
    One way to alleviate the issue of limited grad programs could be to have rolling start dates. While this would increase the cost to the university (i.e., paying professors to teach additional courses) it is a cheaper alternative than opening brand new programs at universities that don’t currently exist. Many universities have one start date of the fall, therefore only graduation gave a potential class of 18-25 students yearly which will never fill our gap/shortage of SLPs.
    I loved your idea of increasing practicum placements from the 1:1 model we currently employ for our graduate students. As a school-bard SLP, I can attest to the fact there is plenty of love, I mean work, to spread around!
    Another solution may be for universities to work with practicum site supervisors to offer small stipends to increase the amount if site supervisors that there are. While I personally believe that we should want to mentor and train others for the future of the progression the way we were taught, many people feel that times are tough, responsibilities are high, and expectations/productivity levels pushed to a point that supervising seems like a daunting task.
    Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed your post!

    • Lyndsey: Thanks for your comments, and congrats on achieving your doctorate!! I wold love to read your work once it’s available. Please do provide the link. Your points are important ones and give even more food for thought. At La Salle, we do consider the SLPD to be a terminal degree (as we do the DNP in Nursing) and have a faculty member who has that degree. What we look at is whether the individual has the knowledge and skills to meet our promotion and tenure requirements. That is, we look at their training and skill set. Good luck in your position, and thanks again!

  13. Recently my graduate college in NY got rid of their entire department in communicative sciences; undergraduate and graduate. I have no idea why but I feel for the students who have to compete even harder with the colleges that are left. This was a SUNY college.

  14. Craig Coleman

    Brian, this is a great post. I agree with everything you said here. In addition, we have to move away from the idea that only doctoral level faculty can teach master’s students, particularly in clinical disorder classes. Who better to teach a disorder course than a clinical specialist. This can really be a great way to promote the speciality certification programs as well. Adding clinical specialists to the faculty also will help with clinical supervision. Often, faculty who are more interested in research are less interested in clinical supervision.
    Times are changing in our profession and it will be important to adjust our models accordingly.
    Brian, I would be happy to talk more and collaborate with you on this!
    Best wishes and continued success at LaSalle!!
    Craig Coleman, M.A., CCC-SLP, BCS-F
    Assistant Professor, Marshall University

    • Hi Craig, Thank you for for affirming comments. There is no doubt that we must change. Other professions do as you suggest. For example, none of our faculty members in our Nutrition program has a doctorate (although one is in a PhD program). We need a mix of individuals who are teaching our students with a variety of experiences. We are trying to do that at La Salle with a new “Professor of Practice” designation. I would love to collaborate on this! Maybe an ASHA session in our future? Thanks again!!

      • Craig Coleman

        Yes, Brian! I would love to do an ASHA session with you on this. Maybe a way for you to talk about your program at LaSalle and I can talk about being a tenure track professor with a Master’s.

    • Brian Goldstein

      Craig: Let’s definitely discuss an ASHA session!

  15. Carolin, SLP

    Thank you for your article Dr. Goldstein. I graduated from West Chester University, and one of my professors gave us all great advice: Go out west!! The Philadelphia area is saturated with SLP undergrads and simply do not have the space for us in their graduate programs. Also, compared to other fields, ASHA is very strict with professor/student ratio. I agree with the previous poster who mentioned letting more Master level clinicians supervise/teach. Some of my best and most informative classes were taught by Master level clinicians still working in the field! It’s sad that so many talented clinicians get rejected for graduate programs and choose to work in other fields…I went to WCU with many of them. I was fortunate to have a financially supportive family (and the right situation- unmarried, no children, etc.) that was willing to help me move to another state to attend my graduate studies.

    • Carolin, Thank you for your comments. You received sage advice. I see the same thing to students–don’t be tied to one area, if you can help it (clearly, some must stay in a specific geographic area). I’m so glad to know things worked out well for you! Thanks again!

  16. Great discussion posts here! One aspect that ASHA should really focus on is the 1:1 supervision model. When students do their first practicum, I believe that is necessary. As they progress through other practicum settings, they should pass criteria that show basic aspects of our profession that they have met the standards for (data collection, report writing, determining EBP, writing treatment objectives, etc.) and then the supervision of those aspects by the SLP mentor could be lessened. That might be a way to look at the demands of mentoring SLP grad students out in the field.

    • Val–thanks for your comments. The type of supervision we do does seem to keep coming up as a theme. It’s important to note that the 1:1 model is not required. In fact, in most University clinics, someone is supervising 2 or 3 students at a time. It’s when students go outside the University that the ratio tends to be 1:1. I’m not suggesting we abandon that model–only that we find ways to supplement it with alternatives. Thanks again for your reply.

  17. My daughter recently graduated from Univ of Colorado at Boulder (2013) in SLHS and also is a certified SLPA. She was unable to get into grad school this fall (for 2014) even after working for a year at a private clinic, getting her SLPA and demonstrating her commitment to the field by moving to another state to get experience and applying to 6 different schools. She had 3 internships during college and has worked with a variety of age groups and settings.
    She isn’t a 4.0 GPA student, but graduated with a 3.4 and is committed to helping others in this area. She gets rave reviews from her SLP supervisors and seems to really have a gift for working with children. Surely being a 4.0 student isn’t the best/only criteria for success.
    I would like to suggest that a program be considered as a 5 or 6 year combined undgergrad/grad program, much like architecture degrees and some engineering programs. You would have less attrition in the undergrad programs (which you mention in your article as a possible outcome of this problem) if there was assurance that students could complete their SLP. Also, the length of the program would naturally weed out those who’ve determined that they might like to work in another field or simply not continue on.
    I agree that something needs to be done and sooner than later. How many times and for how long is someone supposed to continue trying to apply before they move on to something else?
    Thanks for your insightful article. Time to move on to a solution.

    • Deb: Thank you for your comments. We know that we turn away qualified applicants each and every year. I have a former student who seems similar to your daughter. After 4 or 5 years of trying, she finally was accepted into a program for this Fall. There are the kinds of programs that you suggest. In fact, we have a 5-year program at La Salle. I’m surprised more Universities don’t have such programs, especially new/newer programs. I wish the best for your daughter and hope she gets into a program soon.

  18. Brian, this was an excellent post, which has meaning and relevance in a global context. Here in Australia, SLP’s can qualify via either a four year undergraduate or two year graduate entry Masters program. The two different pathways are considered equivalent for professional entry purposes. I suspect the competition re entry into SLP program here is considerably lessened as a result, and certainly we are graduating sufficient numbers of SLPs to ensure there is no jobs shortage here in Australia (quite the opposite, actually). However, the difficulties with recruiting to faculty positions are analogous, and the strain on clinical placements is immense. In relation to clinical placements, this ongoing strain has seen a decline in the 1:1 traditional placement model here in the past decade. At the University I work for, we now centre the basis of our program using a 4:1 (Student:CE) model, employing pedagogical strategies such as peer mentoring, peer learning, CE training to support multiple student models, models of service delivery etc to support this. There is some research to support the learning outcomes associated with these models, and anecdotally I know many clinical educators prefer to take multiple students on placement, rather than individual students (myself included). 1:1 placements now make up only about a fifth of our placement program, and tend to reflect settings where having more than 1 student at a time is problematic from a service delivery viewpoint (eg homebased care). Although it’s early days research wise, I see lots of potential in areas such as simulation, telesupervision, and teleservice delivery as a means to support clinical education in the future.
    I would also add that although I understand and support the discussion about non research doctorates/non doctorates becoming Faculty, I want to add voice to the issue re the number of people pursuing research activity as well. There is considerable sacrifice in pursuing a research PhD (globally), and we need to ensure that pathways are activated to ensure that many, many people are encouraged to pursue research in support of continuing to build the evidence base for our practice. I do entirely agree that researchers do not always make great teachers, but there hasn’t been all that much discussion here about the importance of the research PhD, and the contributions that these individuals make both to our profession, and also to our Faculty.
    This is a conversation that needs to continue in a globally inclusive way. The issues you are describing resonate in many countries, and there should be a role for our professional Associations and our researchers to grow their knowledge and understanding of the issues and possible solutions happening away from our doorsteps.

    • Craig Coleman

      Stacie, I agree with you about the research base. In the U.S., it is becoming increasingly important to do clinical research, which many master’s level clinicians can do. Collaborative partnerships between clinicians and researchers will be crucial, but having faculty members who can wear both hats is the future of the profession here, in my opinion.

    • Brian Goldstein

      Stacie: Thank you so much for your comments; I greatly appreciate them! I did not intend to neglect those of us with research doctorates. Here, I was making an assumption that they had the knowledge, skills, etc. to be productive faculty members. I wanted to point out that we need to expand our definitions and models of faculty if we want to make headway on this issue. In all, my message was to make changes and make them now. Thanks again!

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