Speech pathologist working with a child

Speech Language Pathology Assistant Prospective Clinical Supervisors and/or Employers

Thank you for considering supervising an SLPA program student or hiring an SLPA program graduate.

If you have not already done so, take some time to review this website, as it will provide a great deal of background information. Of particular interest, the Course Descriptions provide an overview of the SLPA program curriculum and the SLPA Scope of Service describes the role of the SLPA as delineated by IDFPR.

For general information regarding supervision of SLPAs (both students and graduates), ASHA provides a number of useful resources including this outline of professional issues as well as others listed in the ASHA product catalog. Additionally, both The Supervisory Process in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology by McCrea and Brasseur and Supervision: Strategies for Successful Outcomes and Productivity by Dowling have chapters devoted specifically to supervising SLPAs.

The Clinical Practicum

The purpose of clinical education is to allow the student to apply the theoretical principles of the didactic portion of the program. Students enroll in Practicum during the final semester (spring) of the program and complete a minimum of 100 hours of fieldwork experience. The spring semester runs from approximately mid-January to mid-May. The Practicum placement consists of experience in a clinical setting three days per week, five to eight hours per day. These three days are determined by clinical site availability and need.

The students complete one 16-week rotation during the semester.

Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from clinical sites, which are located throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan area. All practicum students carry malpractice liability insurance through the college. Students are required to provide documentation of health insurance. All students accepted to the SLPA program must submit documentation of a current and complete physical examination, including medical history, titers and appropriate vaccines, and submit to and pass a mandatory drug screening. In addition, students complete background checks and fingerprinting.

Supervising SLPA Students

Per ASHA’s website, “when engaged in patient/client contact, ASHA guidelines recommend that the SLPA student be supervised a minimum of 50 percent of the time. The patient/client contact refers to direct supervision of the SLPA student, which is defined as on-site, in-view observation and guidance.” The COD SLPA program concurs that 50 percent supervision is an ABSOLUTE minimum that should only be considered after the student has obtained ample experience in a particular setting.

No guidelines exist regarding the number of SLPA students an SLP may supervise at one time. However, supervising more than two students at a time is not recommended.

Supervisors of SLPA students are asked to complete a Clinical Practicum Evaluation Form at the midpoint and end of the students’ rotations. The evaluation form and the dates for completion of the form are provided for the supervisors at the onset of each semester. In certain circumstances, the program chair may request to complete a site visit to observe the student in the practicum setting. This visit would be scheduled at the convenience of the site.

A student may have more than one supervisor during a rotation. However, one supervisor should serve as coordinator of the clinical experience, addressing tasks such as orienting the student to the site, compiling feedback from other supervisors, and completing, reviewing and mailing the Clinical Practicum Evaluation Form.

An SLP supervising an SLPA student must have at least two years of clinical experience in addition to either (a) experience in supervision or (b) 10 clock hours of training in supervision of SLPAs. Due to this restriction, CFYs may not supervise SLPA students. Additionally, licensed SLPAs may not supervise SLPA students.

Establishing a Clinical Affiliation with the COD SLPA Program

If a site is interested in establishing a clinical affiliation with the COD SLPA program after discussion with the SLPA program chair, a contract between the site and the college will be generated. The COD SLPA program utilizes a standard contract written by the college’s Business Services department. Two copies of the contract are signed by the Director of Business Services and an authorized signator at the clinical site. The contract outlines general expectations of the site and the program. The expectations for the site include but are not limited to designating a staff member to be responsible for planning the clinical experience, evaluating the student using the evaluation for provided by the SLPA program and notifying the program chair of any issues regarding the practicum experience. The expectations for the program include but are not limited to providing a coordinator who functions as a liaison between the college and the site, assuring compliance with educational standards, referring only qualified students and verification that students carry malpractice insurance.

The contract is effective for one year and is automatically renewed unless otherwise indicated by either the site or the college. The contract does not in any way obligate the site to accept clinical students, nor does it imply an employment agreement with any SLPA student.

Employing SLPAs

Those considering employing SLPAs are encouraged to read the information above regarding supervision requirements for licensed SLPAs. Many prospective employers have found supervising an SLPA student in a clinical practicum placement to be helpful in determining how an SLPA may be utilized in a particular service landscape. In fact, many clinical sites choose to offer our graduates permanent positions upon graduation.

While the SLPA program does not have a formal job placement program, the program chair is more than willing to share potential employment information with current and former students. Prospective employers are encouraged to contact the program chair.

Supervising Licensed SLPAs

Supervision requirements of SLPAs are clearly outlined in the Speech Language Pathology and Audiology Practice Act. For the initial 90 days of employment, an SLPA “must be under the direct supervision of a speech-language pathologist at least 30 percent of the speech-language pathology assistant's actual patient or client contact time per patient or client, ”according to the practice act. Following the initial 90-day employment period, this supervision may decrease to 20 percent. Direct supervision is defined by the practice act as “on-site, in view observation and guidance by a speech-language pathologist while an assigned activity is performed by the speech-language pathology assistant.” This supervision must be documented.

A full-time SLP may supervise no more than two SLPAs. A part-time SLP may supervise no more than one SLPA.

The supervising SLP must have at least two years of clinical experience in addition to either (a) experience in supervision or (b) 10 hours of training in supervision of SLPAs. Due to this restriction, CFYs may not supervise SLPAs. Additionally, licensed SLPAs, may not supervise SLPA students.