Introduction

Practice Education is a significant component of the professional training for speech and language therapists (Practice Educator CompetenciesBest Practice Guidelines - Therapy Project Office 2008). One of the key aims of the discipline is to provide a comprehensive practice education programme so that speech and language therapists in training achieve a high level of competence to work with a range of clients with communication and swallowing impairments on graduation. Practice education therefore occupies a central place in the undergraduate training programme and provides undergraduates with many different opportunities to integrate theory and practice.


Speech and language therapists in training are required to obtain experience in assessing, diagnosing and treating children and adults with communication and swallowing disorders in a variety of settings. The Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists 
(IASLT) require that speech and language therapists in training undertake a minimum of 450 hours clinical education.  300 of these hours must be with a speech and language therapist and 150 hours can be clinically related.  Clinically related hours include:

Related experience - e.g. visits to schools/preschools, centres for people with disabilities

Focused clinical teaching - e.g. discussion of videos of clients with speech and language therapists in training, simulations and role play, tutorial discussions, guided practice with clinical resources

Student-directed learning - e.g. video/audio analyses, client/case studies, peer tutoring.

Much of the indirect hours are obtained at the University in the form of tutorials and workshops. These tutorials and workshops take place in each year and focus on skill development. In addition students have an opportunity with the support of a staff member to analyse and discuss client profiles (written and video) and engage in role plays and simulated practice. These workshops are designed to develop the necessary skills of a Speech and Language Therapist in a safe and supported environment.

In addition to tutorials and workshops at the University students attend placements throughout the four years. Some of these placements occur in the onsite clinic and others throughout the whole island of Ireland. Occasionally placements have been organized in the UK. Each placement has a different focus and is with a different client group. This ensures students complete their studies with a wide and varied clinical CV on graduation.

The following is an outline of the placement structure over the four years:

Student Year

Semester 1 Placement

Client Group

Semester 2 Placement

Client group

Year 1

No placement while we await garda clearance

N/A

School visits

 (20 hours)

Observation in the onsite clinic (10 hours)

Typically developing children.

 

New referrals.

Year 2

Onsite clinic (Paired with a Year 4 student who supports their learning) (50 hours)

Children with “straightforward presentations”

Block Placement

(140 hours)

Community care caseload.

Year 3

Hospital visits (50 hours)

Adults with neurological conditions.

Block placement (175 hours)

Children/Adults with “complex” needs.

Year 4

Onsite clinic (Paired with a Year 2 student) (50 hours)

Children with “straightforward” presentations.

Year 4 students mentor Year 2 students on this placement thus developing their teaching skills prior to graduation.

Block placement (224 hours)

Children/Adults with “complex” needs

The Practice Education module has been designed to be developmental, introducing students to caseloads of greater complexity and increased workloads as they progress through their training. Students are supported on all their placements by members of the Practice Education team. Some of the team are based in the University and others in different locations throughout the country.

Practice Education Assessment Forms

Level 1 - Novice Clinician Assessment Form & Indicators
Level 2 - Transition Assessment Form & Indicators 
Level 3 - Entry Level Assessment Form & Indicators