Q&A: Post-baccalaureate Speech-Language Pathology Track with John Rose
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Q&A: Post-baccalaureate Speech-Language Pathology Track with John Rose

Join Robert Serianni, MS, CCC-SLP, FNAP, the chair and program director of the department of Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) at Salus University, as he speaks with adjunct faculty member John Rose, SLP-MS, CCC-SLP, about the Post-baccalaureate Speech-Language Pathology Track. Geared towards students who are interested in coming into the field but are missing the prerequisite courses to enter graduate school, or who are interested in working in the field but want to pursue the role of a speech-language pathology assistant, learn more about this new program at Salus.

Serianni: Can you tell us a little bit about why you became an SLP and some of the things you've accomplished in your professional background?

Rose: When I first started college, I was actually a theater major. At the beginning I was like, "Oh, I don't know if theater is exactly right for me," right off the bat. One of my friends said, "The speech pathology department's really good." And I first said, "Oh, well let me try a class." I took communication sciences and disorders, and I really fell in love with the class and the curriculum, and wanted to learn more. At that point I also decided to really add theater and speech pathology into my work and just my growth as a clinician. There were different activities and different studies I did that tried to coincide with theater and speech pathology. You know, like standardized patients for people that had stuttering disorders or that had aphasia, as an example.

It really took off there, especially whenever I went out into the field. I kind of went away from the theater component and started focusing on a lot of pediatrics. At first, I thought I wanted to work with adults, but then, I was thinking, "Oh, well this is actually really cool, just what I can do and how I can interact." I ended up working in the Philly suburbs at first. I really loved that, I fell in love with the agency that I worked with. The pandemic kind of threw a loop into everything of course and that was good and bad. Bad just because of the change, but then good where I learned a lot more about the western part of the state and the central part of the state. I learned a lot of the urban, suburban, and rural components.

I think the other thing is having people to help has been really beneficial as a speech pathologist. And I think that's what's pushed me forward, too.

Serianni: Tell us a little bit about what you're currently doing in the school district.

AAC deviceRose: Right now, I'm working for a school district in Adams County, more rural Pennsylvania, a small school district. Very rural, so it's very different from working in the suburbs of Philadelphia. The majority of my caseload is articulation with the age group I work with, which is kindergarten to third grade. I've worked in multiple grades, high school, middle school, you know, four through six. 

I also have a life skills classroom where that is a lot of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), so a lot of devices that we use for communication such as patient picture exchange, everything like that.

And then as Salus needs, I also help out in whatever way, shape, or form because I love working for Salus. 

That's been a very, very helpful thing also in this job because I hear other professionals and even graduate students say, "Well, I'm trying this." And I'm like, "I think I'm gonna try that, too and see how that goes." So, that's been really good. 

Serianni: We’ve had the opportunity to work with you here on campus as a supervisor, as a professor. What interested you in the teaching and supervision aspects of being part of an academic team?

Rose: The one thing that I love more than actually treating and assessing speech and language disorders in my profession is actually talking about it. I could talk about it for hours upon hours upon hours. I absolutely love giving advice to people if they ask for my advice. And that was something that always made me feel happy. At first, I was connected with another clinical educator from Salus that said, "You should really try this," because I said, "Wow, I just really love talking about it." And at first, it was more so with teachers and paraprofessionals, instructional assistants, and other professionals such as occupational therapy (OT), physical therapy (PT), any teachers for the hearing impaired. Whenever I did get a chance to work with Salus as a clinical educator, that just blossomed even more because you're working with graduate students.

I love working with the graduate students because they are so enticed by what you have to say as a professional, and you're like, "Oh, wow, they're really listening to me." Sometimes when you work with communication and speech and language disorders, you don't know if the client's necessarily listening to you all the time. But with the graduate students you're like, "Oh, wow, they're really listening to me and soaking up everything. This is really cool." When I did start teaching more of the classes such as phonetics and phonology, I fell in love with it even more because you really started learning more about not only the way to tell the students about the information, but also to test them in different ways.

And to look at, were they able to gain this skill set, such as what you would do with your clients? Do they gain that experience? Are they going to feel comfortable if somebody asks them this question? And if they don't know it, did you give them the resources to go look at what the answer could be? I really loved the ability to refer back to other professionals in the past and hone in on my knowledge as well. As a professional you're always learning, so there's always new things to learn in the actual classes as the instructor, too. 

student working at a computerSerianni: Now that you've gone through the program, what do you think some of the advantages are for students who would take coursework here at Salus in the Post-bacc program?

Rose: That's a great question because I think the Post-bacc program really allows you to start your career off with a concrete, focused analysis of speech-language pathology. You’re coming in with a lot of the knowledge that you may have had before in different fields, but I think with the Post-baccalaureate program, it gives you that concentrated ability to really focus on the profession.

It gives you the advantage as well to really get the feel of what graduate school's also going to be like, that concentrated component where you're learning about speech-language pathology, you're immersing yourself into the curriculum, but you're also saying, "Okay, this is something that I really want to do. This is something I really want to pursue at the graduate level," which is also incredibly important.

Some of the other advantages are, you go from the baccalaureate to the master's program, again, depending on the curriculum and how you're doing. So, I think that's also very common, too, as a professional, especially with everything else going on and the stress that you may feel in your life. But I think speech pathologists love that because it's like, "Okay, this is what I'm expected to do. This is a clean cut of the classes I need to take."

The concentration of it, the ability to really immerse yourself in the curriculum, immerse yourself into speech-language pathology, and just having that, I don't want to minimize it by saying a one-stop shop, but basically saying that you're able to really focus, take some of the other stressors off the table and focus on getting your degree and your certification.

professor teaching a classSerianni: We did model the curriculum in the Post-bacc program to sort of follow into the master's program, and the rigor is there to really help you get prepared for graduate school. The value added of being in a health sciences institution where we really focus on those foundational science cores across the field of speech pathology allows students to get a sense of graduate school. And for those that aren't interested in graduate school, I think it gives them the foundational skills and clinical experiences to be successful as SLPAs or speech pathology assistants.

Do you have one bit of advice for a student who would be interested in entering the program here at Salus? What would your inside scoop be?

Rose: Number one, be kind to yourself. I know people that have reached the expectation of, "I have to do this for speech-language pathology, I have to get my master's, I have to get my cert, I have to take these classes, I have to get this experience." Be kind to yourself, everything is going to happen as it should.

Everything happens for the better, especially when you're already trying to improve yourself. So, do be kind to yourself and really hone in on, "What do I have control over right now?" I think with having that rigor and that curriculum that you have to learn and those skills that you have to learn, that can sometimes be overwhelming. 

The second thing that I would also say is whenever you're first starting out, take it day by day. Not that planning ahead of time isn't a good thing, but take it day by day with anything that you do, especially with graduate school. Because, just as professionals that work with other people, we really want results. And the reality is sometimes you won't necessarily get those results. So, be patient and kind with yourself.

The third thing is definitely to have fun. With the Post-baccalaureate program, this is the time to learn more and this is the time to ask questions. Granted, when you get your certification and your degree you can ask questions still, that's not a problem, but this is the time to get messy and learn about something and really try out different things. Make it fun, make the learning enjoyable, make the study sessions enjoyable, make the communication enjoyable with the professors because we want to help you, especially at Salus. I haven't been to a place where more professionals really care about their students. Not that other places don't, but I'm just saying Salus really does a great job with that.

I've loved working for Salus, I loved the Post-bacc program when I did it, and I loved the interaction with my students. I was virtual, but I did feel like that was even more personal because it wasn't that boundary in the classroom, you just talk to me in the classroom, I'm like, "Email me any time, communicate with me any time, we can have another Zoom meeting." I was very flexible with that, and I think the big thing you'll find at Salus is that the professionals are very flexible.