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MVNU opens new speech therapy clinic in Hunter Hall

The MVNU School of Nursing and Health Sciences has opened a new clinic to serve patients with speech and hearing disorders.

The Hunter Hall Clinic for Communication Sciences and Disorders opened to the Knox County community last month.

The clinic exists to serve the community while giving students hands-on learning opportunities in their field of study. Students majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) will actively work in the clinic.

Among the services offered at the clinic will be the evaluation and treatment of communication disorders in children.

Patients may include those who are not eligible for services at school or who need one-on-one attention and more frequent care.

The clinic will also serve people who have suffered strokes or head injuries and need help developing their speech skills. Adults who have exhausted their insurance can also take advantage of this opportunity.

In addition to offering the community services, the clinic at Hunter Hall will serve its primary function to provide CSD students the opportunity to learn in a hands-on, supervised setting.

Each student who enrolls in the undergraduate program will be required to complete three semesters working in the clinic.

“It is rare for undergraduate students to be able to take part in clinical experiences to this degree at other universities,” said Program Director Terri Farnham. “We hope this clinical experience at the undergraduate level will provide our CSD grads an edge in the graduate school admission process.”

There is currently one student at the clinic, junior Hannah Loughman.

Loughman realized she wanted to be a Speech-Language Pathologist two years ago and the opportunity to work in the clinic and the hands-on experience has solidified her decision.

After graduation, Loughman plans on getting a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology, then working with children to develop their language skills.

“Being involved in the clinic has made me realize how excited I am to make this my career the rest of my life,” Loughman said. “It is rewarding to see my clients make progress from each session.”

Communication Sciences and Disorders is a major that began at MVNU in the fall of 2015 and has seen significant growth in the past year.

What began as a program with only five students, has grown to enroll 17 students. Thirteen prospective students are considering the major as they enter their freshman year in the fall of 2017.

Most students who receive a bachelor’s degree in CSD pursue graduate work in audiology or speech-language pathology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth in both fields through the year 2024.

MVNU has also launched a Communication Sciences and Disorders minor in response to student request, Farnham said.

The popularity of the program has also spurred development of a sign language class, since CSD students are required to learn American Sign Language (ASL).

The first ASL class was taught fall semester via online learning by a deaf teacher in Indiana.

“It was a great experience for all the students to learn ASL from a native speaker,” Farnham said.

The class will continue to be offered as a foreign language through MVNU’s Modern Languages Department.

Farnham is encouraged by the popularity of the program and excited for the future of the clinic.

“We will be doing community outreach to increase our client load next year when more MVNU students will be eligible to begin the clinical course,” Farnham said.

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