Post-Baccalaureate Program at Salus University Adds Speech-Language Pathology Track

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Since its inception, students applying to the Salus University’s Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) master’s program required specific prerequisite courses. In the past, obtaining that foundational knowledge would require coursework completed elsewhere.

But now, that’s no longer the case.

Prospective students can get that coursework through the SLP track in the university’s post-baccalaureate (post-bacc) program.

Meeting Future Needs

What sets the Salus approach apart from others is its individualized focus. Students in the post-bacc SLP track participate in small classes and have an assigned mentor. The program also includes various opportunities to gain clinical experience through observation and hands-on patient interaction.

This advantage provides the best chance of getting into a graduate program, either at Salus or somewhere else.

“The genesis of the project was how do we meet this need for our future students? There will be more value added if we could give them what they need here at Salus and not send them someplace else,” said Robert Serianni, chair and director of the Salus SLP department.

Building on the Health Sciences Program

Two years ago, when the University started its Post-bacc program in Health Sciences, Serianni gave input on some of its course content. At the time, the team talked about what was needed for other university programs, such as Optometry, Occupational Therapy, and Physician Assistant Studies.

But speech-language pathology programs are particular in what they require of students to get into a master’s program, those core courses that SLP students must have as part of their undergraduate degrees. Darryl Horn, associate professor in the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University and director of the Post-bacc program in Health Sciences, said its original curriculum covered only a few of the SLP prerequisites

“The SLP track has courses that are content specific and will allow any student to meet not only the prerequisite courses required but also the clinical observation hours needed to apply to the SLP master’s program,” said Horn.

An interprofessional teaching team will teach the SLP courses. Serianni said there might be a hybrid or online component to the SLP track, but the department does expect the students to work together to experience the small, intimate, and face-to-face experience.

“We feel like that’s going to give them the best chance to get into a graduate program of their choice, maybe even right here at Salus,” he said.

Expanding Professional Options

After the Post-bacc SLP Track’s inaugural year in 2021–2022, the Salus team decided to expand the program’s offerings for students interested in certification as a Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA).

“Although Salus University primarily offers graduate level programs, we recognize some students are looking for a different career path,” said Kimberly Edmonds, instructor in the SLP department and coordinator of the Post-bacc SLP Track.

In Pa., registered SLPAs are required to have 30 undergraduate-level semester hours in speech, language, or hearing. In addition, national certification as an SPLA through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) requires specific course content and clinical field experience. The existing SLP track already included the the majority of these requirements. By adding two practicum courses, the program is now able to prepare students to become SLPAs.

“There’s a growing demand for SLPAs, but few training programs available,” explained Edmonds, “The goal of our newly expanded program is for students to leave feeling confident in their chosen career path and also to be competitive applicants, whether they choose to pursue graduate studies or enter the job market.”

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