This roundtable is part of an ongoing podcast series about the Speech-Language Pathology program at Salus University.

Thanks for joining us for our podcast series, talking about speech-language pathology graduate school. Join Robert Serianni, MS, CCC-SLP, FNAP, the chair and program director of the department of Speech-Language Pathology at Salus University as he speaks with a clinical educator and three current students about their collaboration with the members of the Breastfeeding Resource Center and their work in the population of infants, toddlers and families.

To start us off, everyone introduced themselves:

Jacquelyn Catalini:
I'm Jacquelyn Catalini. I'm a speech-language pathologist and clinical educator here at Salus.

Ashlee DePaul:
Hi, I'm Ashlee and I'm a first-year graduate student in the speech-language pathology program at Salus.

Erin Przybylinski:
Hi, I'm Erin Przybylinski and I'm a first-year graduate student at Salus University in the speech pathology program.

Shelly Davidson:
Hi, I'm Shelly Davidson and I'm also a first-year grad student at Salus University.

SLP Q&A
Bob Serianni:
A lot of our listeners are interested in coming to Salus's speech-language pathology program. Can you tell us why you and your colleagues here have decided to join Salus?

Ashlee DePaul:
I chose Salus because of the early experience that is provided in the clinical setting to give all students a range of opportunities for individuals with speech impairments, ranging from early childhood all the way up to adulthood. Exposure is extremely beneficial in preparing us for our externships in the fall, as well as our future profession as an SLP. Along with this, the staff and faculty gave me an immediate great first impression, and I could really feel their support in helping me to become an SLP. The clinic is filled with supervisors that spend their time providing us with great clinical education and tools that we will be using for the rest of our career.

Bob Serianni:
That gives me a huge smile to hear that because that's really why we set that clinic up, to make sure that you can take that classroom work and put it to practice with clients from our community.
 
Jacquelyn, can you tell us more about the BRC and some of the services that are provided there?

Jacquelyn Catalini:
The Breastfeeding Resource Center, or the BRC, is an outpatient community clinic where there are lactation consultants who work there. You can make virtual or in-person appointments, and they're there to help moms learn how to breastfeed, troubleshoot problems that come up, and anybody who's a new parent knows that learning to feed your baby is such a huge part of the first year of life. And they're there to provide that support. In addition to that, they also offer a variety of support groups on all different topics that parents need for that first year, and even more, of life whether it's sleeping, eating, just general support group for the psychological health. And what we do is we offer one of those support groups.
 
Every week we meet with moms and babies and we present on a different speech-language or feeding topic, but we're also there to hear from the parents. So they kind of get that support from each other. And then we're also there to provide education, which really eases anxieties that you might have as a new parent, but also just lets parents know kind of where they should be and then how we can help them get where their babies should be going as far as their speech and language or feeding development goals. So it's a really cool program that supports new parents.

Salus faculty and students
Bob Serianni:
What is one of the projects you're working on, Erin?

Erin Przybylinski:
We actually discuss topics that range anywhere from childhood development milestones to social media influence on development. However, currently, we're working on educating parents on the benefits of baby sign language. Baby sign language is a great way for your child to communicate with caregivers before spoken language is actually developed. And in some cases, it even helps with earlier development of spoken language. There are many ways to teach your child sign language. One key factor is repetition. It is really important for the parent to say the sign out loud, model the sign and then perform the action of the sign. So an example of this would be if you're teaching the sign “more” to model the sign, say more out loud and then give your child more food or drink. It's a really beneficial way to communicate with your child. And it can also be really fun for families.

Bob Serianni:
Did you have sign language experience before you joined the BRC group?

Erin Przybylinski:
I had a little bit of sign language experience in undergrad. I'm definitely not fluent in it, but I know some stuff.
Bob Serianni:
I'm sure it's really exciting to sort of do the opportunities to really expand not only your clinical knowledge, but then how you communicate that out to the parents of the program.
 
Jacquelyn, you've been doing this for a little while now, and I'm just wondering how you see this experience adding to the students’ preparation for externships and their careers.

Jacquelyn Catalini:
The rotation at the BRC is a unique experience, I think, for grad students. You often don't get experience in infants and toddlers before you head out into your career and you're graduated. And so you don't always have experience with those babies, zero to three. And then on top of that, the model for early intervention is parent education and coaching, which is different than a lot of other therapy we provide. Really, our client in infants and toddlers are the parents or the caregivers. We're training them, we're teaching them so that they can learn to work with these little guys, zero to three, every single day. That's the only way they're going to make progress. These students get to come in weekly and learn hands-on how to use that coaching and parent education model. So when they come out, they'll be ready to take on a position like that.

And I don't think that is a common thing that grad students come out ready to do. It's kind of a difficult job to have as a newbie. Additionally, I really hope overall whether you're going to work in infants and toddlers or not and you're just interested in doing the rotation, that you really learn the importance of family education, caregiver education. So whether you're in a hospital setting, a school setting, an outpatient clinic setting, that you feel comfortable and confident providing that education to parents, family members, teachers, whoever the team is for your client. And that's how you're going to see your client make the most success. You're also going to be more frequently, I hope, checking in with those people and asking the right questions to get to the bottom of what's going on with your clients so you can help them make progress.

Bob Serianni:
I really do love the team experience. And I think that is hard to replicate on campus. I know we sort of try to through some of the programming we do at SLI, but I think you've really cornered the market on the skills that students need when they get to participate through the BRC.
 
Shelly, I'm going to put you on the spot. I want you to think about the students that are thinking about coming into a graduate program, and more specifically, Salus's program. Can you give us an idea of what advice you would share with those students as they think about applying to the program?

Shelly Davidson:
Definitely apply even if you're hesitant, even if you're worried about not getting in. I remember my fear where I thought I wouldn't get into a single school, and I was so scared. And then I did. So for sure, apply. It's always a good idea. Another bit of advice, I'd probably say with the amount of resources that Salus specifically and our program puts out, there's so much information and so many resources for any prospective students to use even if they're juniors in college, even if they're seniors, if they've already applied, there're so many resources like this podcast. They can learn a lot about us and kind of the different programs, like the BRC that we have. I think another great idea is we have an Instagram. That's a really good source to kind of get to see a lot of different programs as well, and kind of see the environment and the people you're going to be with.

And I think it would always be a great idea to reach out to admissions if you're trying to contact the school and especially our specific program. There's probably a way to get in contact with some of the supervisors, some of the commissions, even some of the students. I would personally love to help anyone looking, and I know a lot of my coworkers and a lot of my colleagues would as well.