According to the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 17.3 million students (undergraduate, graduate, and first professional) were enrolled in degree-granting institutions during fall 2004. Of that enrollment, 205,983 students studied abroad (Open Doors, 2006).
While that figure represents a 7.7% increase from the previous year in the number of study abroad students, it accounts for just 1% of all students!
The number of graduate students in the 2004–2005 academic year who studied abroad decreased from the previous year (from 4.1% to 3.4% for master's students, and from 0.5% to 0.4% for doctoral students).
The racial/ethnic breakdown of students studying abroad is 83% white/Caucasian; 6.3% Asian-American/Pacific Islander; 5.6% Hispanic/Latino(a); 3.5% African American; 1.2% Multiracial; and 0.4% Native American/Alaskan Native.
ASHA's strategic goals call for enhancing knowledge and education exchanges, leading to international recognition of the professions and to international collaboration; and for an increase in the number, diversity, and cultural competence of the membership. It's encouraging, therefore, that more students are studying abroad; it would be more encouraging, however, if a wider distribution of all students participated.
To attain these goals, more must be done to encourage, establish, and support study-abroad programs at the graduate level; promote opportunities and provide funding for academic, student, and professional exchange programs; and advance international research and academic collaboration.
Opportunities to learn from the perspective of communications sciences and disorders (CSD) professionals in other countries and other cultures are available for undergraduate and graduate students, clinical fellows (CFs), practicing clinicians, researchers, and academicians.
Undergraduates and Graduates
Many universities offer organized study abroad programs; some have established campuses or "sister" programs with universities in other countries. If these formal opportunities do not exist, are there faculty members who spend time abroad? Are they looking for students to help with research? Can they introduce you to colleagues in other countries?
Additionally, talk to staff in your university's study abroad office. They can help identify opportunities and, if necessary, financial assistance.
Determine whether the course work applies toward degree and/or graduation and whether study abroad will affect your graduation date. Does the program have to be with a CSD program?
Clinical Fellowship (CF) requirements stipulate that a supervisor must hold the Certificate of Clinical Certification (CCC), but they do not specify where the clinical fellowship is conducted—so it's possible to conduct some or all of your CF year abroad.
Contact a CCC-SLP working in another country about the possibility of serving as your CF clinical supervisor. Ask colleagues and professors if they know anyone who could serve in that capacity. You can also find certified members in other countries on ASHA's membership directory by searching by country. It's important to have a written agreement between the clinical fellow and clinical supervisor.
An alternate supervision mechanism, such as videotaping, may meet CF supervisory requirements while in another country; but any alternate supervisory plans must comply with certification requirements and be approved before the fellowship begins.
You will also need to obtain the necessary visa and work permits (see "Working Abroad" in the April 17, 2007, ASHA Leader).
Clinical doctoral audiology students should confer with academic advisors about conducting third- or fourth-year externships abroad. Audiology students who plan to obtain the CCC should ensure that a preceptor with a CCC-A will be available.
The Practicing Clinician as Student
Consider the possibility of earning certification maintenance hours or CEUs while attending conferences abroad. International events and conferences are listed on ASHA's Web site. Check your certification maintenance interval or your state's requirements.
The Academician and Researcher
A number of programs facilitate international exchange of information, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Institute for International Education. See a list of these resources in The ASHA Leader Online.