American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Tips for First-Time Supervisors of Graduate Student Clinicians

Administrative considerations prior to graduate student placement:

  • Obtain any necessary approvals for serving as a clinical educator and placement site from your facility. Your director or human resources office is a good place to start.
  • Review the agreement that your facility has established with the university. If your facility has never before accepted a graduate student, be sure to establish an agreement in writing that has been reviewed and approved by the legal department of both your facility and the university.
  • Contact your Human Resources department about their requirements and orientation process for graduate students.
    • Do they need ID badges, background checks, and other paperwork to complete?
    • What facility-wide orientation needs to be done in advance, and what is done in the first day on the job?
    • What kind of department orientation do graduate students receive?
  • Determine the type of office or treatment space that will be made available to the graduate student(s).
  • Complete any necessary paperwork attesting to your professional credentials (ASHA certification, state licensure, and/or state teacher certification) as this may be necessary for the graduate student to document their supervised clinical experiences when they make application for their own professional credentials.
  • Clarify expectations about the amount of time the student will spend at your site (e.g, 3 or 5 days a week, number of hours, number of weeks).
  • Contact the university placement coordinator to ask questions about communication between you and the university program once the graduate student is placed, including:
    • type and frequency of contact;
    • number of site visits by university coordinator;
    • systems for addressing any problems;
    • benchmarks and assessment for student progress.
  • Inquire if the university offers or requires supervisors to have taken university or professional development courses on supervision or specific clinical topics. If not, ask the university if such coursework is available to supervisors.

Educational considerations prior to graduate student placement:

  • Clearly communicate to the university information about the site, nature of cases seen, depth and breadth of clinical experiences and knowledge and skills likely to be learned at your site. Update this information annually.
  • Determine if your department or your facility requires an interview or specific coursework prior to accepting the graduate student.
  • Find out what types of clinical experiences the graduate student has acquired.
  • Consider interviewing students who are candidates for placement at your facility in order to ascertain a "good fit" for placement at your site.
  • Determine the type of evaluation of the graduate student's performance that the university requires (frequency and format).
  • Consider how you plan to assess and teach clinical skills.
  • Determine how you will assign cases and manage your caseload accordingly.
  • Determine graduate student assessment measures.

Educational considerations after graduate student placement:

  • When working with the graduate student, consider the following:
    • Set up regular times for conferences.
    • Encourage the graduate student to be an active participant in establishing mutually agreed upon educational goals for the placement, which take into consideration the student's level of experience and the nature of the clinical opportunities available at the site.
    • Clearly state your expectations for the graduate student over the course of the practicum-hours, responsibilities (clients, assigned projects or readings), and facility policies -- and how the student will be evaluated.
    • Be cognizant of the graduate student's learning style and how they respond to feedback.
    • Avoid attempting to expose the graduate student to every type of patient and disorder. Periodically revisit the goals for placement and student learning objectives.
    • Maintain communication with the university regarding the student's progress.

Resources available to you as a supervisor:

  • Contact the university's clinic director and/or coordinator with questions or concerns regarding your graduate student.
  • Explore ASHA's resources on clinical education.
  • Consider joining Special Interest Group 11: Administration and Supervision. You can post questions and learn from other clinical educators once you join the division email list.

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