PITTSBURGH – Aligned with Carlow’s Mercy tradition of reaching out to assist those in need, evaluation and treatment services for speech and language disorders is coming to Carlow University.
A Speech-Language Pathology Clinic will begin serving clients in August and will offer a full range of screening, diagnostic and therapeutic speech-language services at no cost.
The clinic corresponds to Carlow’s newest graduate health sciences program, Speech-Language Pathology, which is one of four health sciences programs that the University is launching over the next two years. They are MS in Speech-Language Pathology, MS in Physician Assistant, MS and OTD in Occupational Therapy, and DPT in Physical Therapy.
The Speech-Language Pathology program was awarded candidacy status in spring of 2021 and is now considered an accreditation candidate by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). The program will launch its inaugural cohort of students in fall 2021.
“Part of the graduate plan of study is to have an on-campus clinic to provide clinical experiences for our graduate students on-site under close mentorship of licensed and certified faculty,” Program Director Samantha Dalessio said. “Our hope, in alignment with Carlow’s mission and vision of service, is to specifically reach out to individuals who may have difficulty with access to speech and language services, across the life span of children through adults, at no cost.”
The clinic’s primary service area will be the West Oakland community.
Diagnostic assessment will include evaluating communication skills with typical referrals including (but not limited to) children with language delays or difficulty articulating sounds and adults who have had strokes or other neurologic conditions. After determining a client’s needs, graduate student clinicians and their faculty supervisors will design a plan uniquely for them.
The SLP clinic is temporarily housed in the Hopkins Communication Lab within the University Commons building until Carlow constructs a new Interdisciplinary Health & Science Center along Fifth Avenue. The Center is slated to be completed in 2025.
Amanda Smith, director of clinical education, said prospective clients can call, email or fill out an inquiry form on Carlow’s website to schedule an appointment. She said clients are typically referred by health care and community agencies, physicians, school professionals and self-referral. But she added that “there are no restrictions on how we receive them.”
Smith said clinic hours will vary semester by semester. “We’ll start off small, and as the program grows, times in the clinic will grow as well.”
Dalessio said the demand for speech therapy services is high, particularly among those who lack health care insurance or whose insurance coverage allows for a limited number of sessions.
She said the clinic is also a learning process for students by providing them with opportunities to develop critical thinking skills, professionalism and ethical accountability.
“We are really kind of rooted in this mission to have a clinic because part of being in the clinic is the hospitality, the service, the compassion towards others, those types of qualities that align very nicely with the university’s values,” Dalessio said.
The SLP clinic hopes at some point in the future to provide tele-therapy services.
“In the world of COVID, the therapy platform has changed significantly, and we now have evidence to suggest that in some cases tele-therapy services can be a more viable option for individuals, particularly those who have difficulty with transportation, scheduling, that type of thing,” said Dalessio. “Hopefully, we can provide that as an option for clients to reach our clinic and an opportunity for our students to understand the technologies that have advanced since the pandemic.”
Lynn George, dean of the College of Health and Wellness, said the addition of the four new graduate programs to the existing graduate programs in nursing “is building on Carlow University’s strength in preparing health care professionals to meet the needs of all.”
“Starting four programs at the same time allows us to design and implement innovative interprofessional educational opportunities that prepare graduates to work together in teams, to provide the highest quality patient focused healthcare,” said George. “This is the future of health care education.”
The MS in Physician Assistant and MS and OTD in Occupational Therapy will launch in fall 2022, and the DPT in Physician Therapy will launch in fall 2023.