You know you are studying Communication Disorders (or Speech Therapy) when you’ve answered:
“What is Speech, Language and Hearing Science?”
“What will you do with that?”
“So you want to work with children?”
If we were paid a dollar every time we answered one of those questions, we’d be able to pay off our student loans! We’ve become masters at answering those questions and beginning to advocate and educate about our field.
But you’re not here to do things you already know; you’re here to get an idea of what it is like to be a Communication Disorders graduate student at Emerson. That is a difficult task, as our schedules vary day to day, but I’m gonna give you all the things that could happen. In fact, yesterday I had a superwoman day where I did it all!
Wake up. Breakfast. Catch a train. In the city by 9am. Then? Who knows!
Every day begins about the same way: pack up my bag (and hope I don’t forget something), head onto the T (Boston’s train system), and get on campus by 9am. From there, any number of things can be done: class, clinic, work, homework, treatment planning, SOAP notes, and meetings. Thursday’s are my busy days when I typically do all of that or nearly all of that.
Thursday starts with a 9am class. Our classes are 3 hours long with a break in the middle, and they meet once a week. I find this better than 1-hour classes 3 times a week because you don’t have to break up other commitments (work, meetings). Each semester, students take 3 classes along with a Clinical Methods course (which is 2 hours long).
At noon, I go into work. Today, I’m working for Sandy Cohn-Thau, our graduate program director. The program has many opportunities to work with professors in either assistant or research positions. Working on campus is great way to earn some extra cash because they see you as a student first and are willing to work around meetings, classes, and busy weeks.
Every day is a new adventure in the Robbins Center!
I work with Sandy for 2 hours and then have an hour break. During this break, I have lunch, prep for my individual client (a lovely girl with Downs Syndrome), and catch up on any work that needs to be done. Prepping for my client involves getting my materials, printing my treatment plan, and setting up the therapy room.
At 3pm, after setting everything up, I have my 45-minute session with my individual client, where we worked on increasing her language output. Then, we are joined by another clinician and her client, another lovely little girl, for a 45 minute group session. In this session, we had the girls make snowmen and give them to one another; we’re working on their social communication skills.
I say goodbye to my girl for the last time for this semester 🙁 I answer a few questions that observers had and met with my clinical supervisor. We talk briefly about what happened in the session, what I could do better, what I did well, and end of the year paperwork. All of the supervisors are amazing; they are immensely knowledgeable and eager to help make you a better clinician.
After all that, my day still isn’t over! I know, I’m crazy; we can talk about that later. I go back upstairs to the graduate lounge, where I met up with my Preschool Language class group. In Preschool Language, we were given a case study and followed her through from assessment to treatment. This meeting was finalizing our treatment plan and discussing our parent meeting plan. The “parent” is a second year student acting as our child’s mother where we present our assessment findings and treatment plan.
Now… 7pm is when I can go home.
Don’t freak out!
If you are an August grad (someone without a background in CD), you don’t have clinic the first semester and you can acclimate to class before starting clinic. Also, you are not required to work outside of school! Whether you are a procrastinator (like me) or a perfectionist, everything you need to do will all get done, and it will be done well.
…even if you go through this process every time. We all do at one point or another. 🙂
About the Author
Amanda is a first year Communication Disorders graduate student. She received degrees in Speech, Language, and Hearing Science and Linguistics from the University of Arizona before moving cross-country to continue her education at Emerson.