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My Speech Pathology Externship Experience: From Student to SLP

Posted September 05, 2016

Ridge Zeller Therapy's former intern, Jennifer Brausse, MS, CCC-SLP, shares about her experience completing the RZT speech pathology externship program. (Updated March 28, 2017)

How did I find out about Ridge Zeller Therapy's speech-language pathology extern graduate program?

It was Facebook! When I began researching potential speech therapy practicum opportunities, I was undecided as to what population I wanted to work with. I was also unsure of what type of setting I wanted to work in. What I did know was I wanted to move somewhere with warm weather!

I posted in an SLP Facebook group outlining exactly what I wanted – a practicum placement with the opportunity to work with different populations and in different settings. Oh, and it had to be somewhere with warm weather!

A former Ridge Zeller (RZT) employee messaged me about her externship experience with Ridge Zeller Therapy. I researched RZT and eventually spoke with Meghan to discuss their internship program. They had everything I was looking for, so after I got off the phone, I immediately applied.

What got me so excited to apply?

Going into my practicum, I was unsure of who I wanted to work with and where I wanted to work. I wanted to make sure I had the chance to work with as many different clients in as many different settings as possible and Ridge Zeller Therapy could offer me this opportunity.

Did I have to relocate?

Yes, I did.  I am originally from Maidstone, Saskatchewan and I completed both my undergraduate and graduate degrees at Minot State University in Minot, North Dakota.

I have always lived where the winters are long and cold. When searching for my practicum placement, I focused my search on one of the states with the best weather year round – Arizona!

I love the Arizona sun and all the great activities that come with it. It’s like living in summer all year long!

So, what was my SLP externship experience like?

Every day of the week was different. On Monday, I alternated between two placements. My first placement was a Community Based Training (CBT) classroom in a high school in Phoenix.

While working in the CBT classroom, I had the opportunity to collaborate with classroom teachers, instructional assistants, a vision specialist, and a deaf educator. During my second Monday placement, I conducted assessments at various elementary schools throughout the Phoenix area.

I had the opportunity to administer various assessments, including the following: Social Language Development Test – Adolescent, Test of Language Development – Primary: Fourth Edition, Receptive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test – Fourth Edition, Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test – Fourth Edition, Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation – Second Edition, Stuttering Severity Index, Clinical Evaluation of Language – Fourth Edition, and Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language.

On Tuesday and Thursday, I was placed in another high school in Phoenix. At this placement I had the opportunity to provide pull-out services to regular education and practical education students.

In addition, my supervisor and I provided therapy once a week in a CBT classroom. I also conducted many different assessments at this placement including the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals – Fourth Edition, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test – Fourth Edition, Expressive Vocabulary Test – Second Edition, and Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language. At this placement I had the opportunity to collaborate with classroom teachers, the school psychologist, and the exceptional student services facilitator.

On Wednesday, I was placed in a rehab facility. At this placement, I assessed and provided therapy to clients who had various etiologies including strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and Parkinson’s disease. In addition, I collaborated with caregivers and other professionals, such as physical therapists.

Finally, on Friday, I was placed in another high school in Phoenix where my supervisor and I provided push-in services to practical education students and conducted a social group for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I also collaborated with classroom teachers and the social worker.

What have I learned as an extern that I feel will be helpful along my SLP career path?

Throughout my practicum, I worked with different SLPs:  Sarah Britto, Sarah Jordan-Strong, Jana Barrett, JoAnn Ridge, and Meghan Zeller. These SLPs had so much to share and all had different areas of interest and expertise.

Each of my supervisors shared with me stories in which they had been successful and stories in which things did not turn out like they had planned. In each of their stories they highlighted the importance of reflection.

I have learned from each of my supervisors that it is important to reflect on what you have done well and what you need to change. The process of reflection is something I will be sure to practice going into my first year as an SLP and throughout my career.

If I could share some helpful insights with others who were in my position when I applied, what would those be?

Just apply! Ridge Zeller Therapy gave me the opportunity to work with many different clients and in many different settings.

I have learned so much over the course of my practicum, and I feel confident going into my first year as a school-based SLP.

The Ridge Zeller Therapy Internship Program is fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone!

Did you have a positive experience in your speech language therapy internship or externship?

What was that experience like for you? Feel free to leave your comments below!

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