Clinic provides essential services for region, work experience for students

MURRAY, Ky. — The Murray State University Speech and Hearing Clinic is offering telehealth services to its clients in the interest of safety amidst the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The clinic, which employs University students taught by professional faculty, provides a range of evaluation and treatment services in hearing, speech, language and voice disorders, as well as swallowing and feeding disorders for individuals within the university and surrounding region.

The Murray State University Speech and Hearing Clinic is offering telehealth services to its clients in the interest of safety amidst the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Murray State University Speech and Hearing Clinic is offering telehealth services to its clients in the interest of safety amidst the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Typically, the clinic offers face-to-face services during the summer months, including group therapy in the areas of literacy, speech, vocational communication and receptive/expressive language. To best protect its 40-plus clients along with faculty and students, the clinic has transitioned to a telepractice model.

As part of the University’s speech-language pathology program, students must earn 400 direct clinical hours under the supervision of a licensed professional.

“The bottom line was that our graduate students must continue to gain clinical experiences in order to remain on track to graduate and equally important, our clients cannot be abandoned,” said Dr. Stephanie Schaaf, clinic director and assistant professor. “Therefore, with innovation, problem solving, flexibility and teamwork, the faculty and students were able to pull together a fantastic alternative model for the summer 2020 clinical session using telepractice.

“The results have been overwhelmingly positive for our students, the clients we serve and faculty members involved. The hope is that telepractice continues to be part of our ‘new normal’ in the speech and hearing clinic and after seeing the benefits, it is a new normal we are actually ready to embrace.”

In addition to fulfilling the clinical hour requirement, the clinic provides valuable work experience in a real-work setting for its student staff.

“Telepractice has allowed us to continue to serve a population of individuals given the current COVID-19 guidelines,” said Ashton “Lexi” Bergman, a graduate student from Pewee Valley, Kentucky. “Within a few short weeks, we have evolved from the physical routines of the therapy setting to a virtual one. Telepractice has highlighted the strengths of the speech-language pathology community as shown by the numerous tutorials, resources and support of others during this time of change. Overall, I have enjoyed the experience and the innovative aspect.”

“Telehealth sessions allow students to practice providing services in a modality that suits our evolving therapeutic landscape,” said clinical supervisor and lecturer Alison Brown. “Not only does it provide a solution to supplying services during a pandemic, it also allows us to reach clients in rural areas or those with low mobility. These lessons from navigating COVID-19 will benefit the clinic in the future because we will be well-prepared to provide excellent speech-language therapy in innovative ways.”

More information about the Murray State Speech and Hearing Clinic is available at bit.ly/MurrayStateSHC.

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