SHS Clinic gives students, faculty the opportunity to provide clinical services for the community
- SHS at 50
- Department of Speech and Hearing Science
- Jennifer Dahman
- Clarion Mendes
- University of Illinois
- College of Applied Health Sciences
- Pamela Hadley
- Cynthia Parsons Johnson
By BRUCE ADAMS
Nestled in the University of Illinois’ Research Park is a place where the Department of Speech and Hearing Science improves communication and quality of life using evidence-based practices on a daily basis. This mission goes back to the founding of the department.
The Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Clinic, operated by SHS, provides a full range of diagnostic and therapeutic services to 200 children and adults annually. The clinic serves individuals in the local community and across Illinois via in-person and telepractice means, providing services to clients across the lifespan.
May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, and 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the celebration of that occasion, as well as the 50th anniversary of SHS being established at the University of Illinois. The month’s theme of Building a Strong Foundation and its emphasis on “life-altering treatment” fit nicely with the department’s history of service, instruction and research.
During the month free pediatric and adult hearing and speech-language screenings will be offered to community members. Graduate students will perform the screenings with supervision from certified audiologists and speech-language pathologists. The event will be held at the clinic at 2001 S. Oak St. Suite B in Champaign on the morning of Wednesday, May 24, and the afternoon of Thursday, May 25. All are welcome and can call the clinic at 217-333-2205 if interested in scheduling a free screening.
Other community activities have included:
- Presentations from second-year masters students at the OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center stroke support group’s monthly meeting.
- Presentations at the Parkinson's Disease Support Group of Champaign County about the role of speech-language pathology and its benefits for quality of life in Parkinson’s disease.
- Convenient, no-charge audiology and hearing care services provide to residents of Clark Lindsey Nursing Home. Doctor of Audiology students informed residents about listening and repair strategies, cleaned and maintained hearing aids, and cleaned earwax out of residents’ ears.
- Free hearing and speech-language screenings at the Child Development Laboratory on campus and at Chesterbrook Academy Preschool.
- Sharing information about communication disorders and the services available at the clinic with the community as part of the College of Applied Health Sciences booth at the Urbana Market on the Square.
Graduate students in audiology and speech-language pathology develop knowledge and skills to provide clinical care to the community through their academic coursework and clinical practica experiences.
“As a clinic, we're working very closely with the department,” said Clarion Mendes, a speech-language pathologist at the clinic and a clinical assistant professor in SHS. As Mendes explains, exposure to the needs of the community in the clinic informs teaching.
“Part of our mission is to intertwine the two and not see them as distinct entities," she said. "The department has gone through a curriculum revision for the master's program in recent years that highlights cultural and linguistic diversity, and if we look at that with a broader lens, that also includes looking at speech differences rather than considering them as disabilities. Speaking for myself, my clinical population nearly exclusively consists of marginalized populations. I work nearly exclusively with gender-diverse individuals. Working within that landscape requires a lot of reflection and cultural humility, constantly revising how I approach clinical practice and teach it to my students.”
The clinic gives students the unique opportunity to provide cutting-edge care informed by research and clinical expertise in an immersive environment under the supervision of licensed and nationally certified audiologists and speech-language pathologists. While clients are receiving care, they are contributing to new discoveries in the assessment and treatment of communication disorders and training the next generation of speech, language, and hearing clinicians and researchers.
Working with external partners and increasing the diversity of the student body bring fresh viewpoints and experiences to the clinic and department. In fact, the international composition in the clinical programs body is at a 10-year high, with seven international students in the clinical programs in audiology and speech-language pathology. “Efforts are also underway to expand the accepted insurances to get a broader patient base," Clinical Assistant Professor Sadie Braun said.
Clinical work powers education and research and has motivated SHS since its humble beginnings. Jennifer Dahman, a speech-language pathologist and clinical assistant professor at SHS, credits her work as a clinical educator for making her a “better speech-language pathologist.”
"Yes, we teach the how, but more importantly, we teach the why,” she said. “And if we don't know the why then we find out. Being able to explain that active kind of learning perspective to students translates into their service delivery.”
Learn more about the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Clinic by visiting the website.