SHS Celebrates Partnership with Karolinksa

Group shot of SHS and Karolinska summit participants

Faculty and students from Speech and Hearing Science and the Karolinska Institute met during the summer to discuss the education and research partnership between the two institutions.

On June 20th, students and faculty from the Department of Speech and Hearing Science (SHS) at Illinois and the Divisions of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at Karolinska Institute (KI) gathered to celebrate their successful student exchange and research collaboration program. Based in Stockholm, Sweden, KI is one of Europe’s largest and most prestigious medical universities, offering a wide range of medical courses and programs. It also is the largest center of medical academic research in Sweden.


The exchange program, which was spearheaded by then interim department head for SHS, Dr. Bill Stewart, not only focuses on educational opportunities for undergraduate students, but also on collaborative research opportunities for faculty and graduate students.


The educational program gives preference to SHS students with junior-level standing and strong academic backgrounds, although sophomores and seniors are also considered. Students within any of the four SHS undergraduate concentrations may apply. During their semester at KI, students earn 12 credits within the Speech-Language or Audiology Division in topics such as speech disorders and dysphagia, phonetic transcription, community- and home-based rehabilitation, physics and acoustics, and sound perception. They also have opportunities to observe clinical practice in speech-language pathology and audiology.


A unique experience

SHS student Shana Pembroke, who had returned from her semester abroad just before the summit, described her five months in Stockholm as some of the most enriching and fulfilling ones of her life.


“I was able to observe first-hand how the field of speech-language pathology exists I another country, and to meet like-minded individuals who share my passion for the field,” she said.

Shana gained clinical experience at Karolinska, something that would not have occurred until her senior year at Illinois. She describes the classes as challenging and insightful and the instructors as brilliant. Small class sizes meant she and other students worked together frequently in small groups. The opportunity to assess and suggest treatments for hypothetical cases in consultation with others was one of the highlights of her experience.


A meeting of research minds as well


The summit also provided the opportunity for scholars from both Karolinska Institute and SHS to share information about their research on such topics as improving the aging voice through vocal exercise, motor speech disorders, conceptual processing in mild cognitive impairment, increasing children’s morphological awareness, hearing impairment and early language development, and the impact of cochlear implants on stabilizing vocal pitch. Some collaboration already is well underway, and it became clear as information was shared during the summit that opportunities for collaboration between the two bodies of scholars were numerous.

“The summit reminded us that communication disorders are a global experience that cuts across traditional borders and touches the very heart of our humanity,” said Dr. DeThorne. “Given the leading positions of our two institutions, I hope the positive and collaborative energy of the summit will be translated into better supports and services for individuals with communication disorders worldwide.”