SCSD Director of Clinical Education Adapts Clinic to COVID-19 Pandemic

As the newly appointed Director of Clinical Education and Graduate Program Director for the FSU School of Communication Science and Disorders (SCSD), Dr. Tricia Montgomery has used her new role to help adapt SCSD’s clinical education program over the past year.

As Director, Dr. Montgomery ensures that students meet requirements to obtain Florida licensure and oversees speech and language clinical programs at the FSU Speech and Hearing Clinic, a task that was particularly challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I entered this role one month prior to the COVID-19 shutdown,” said Dr. Montgomery. “The current semester placements were in full swing, and the summer clinical placements were set and ready. After Spring Break, students were not permitted to continue attending their current clinical placement nor were they able to attend in person for the Summer 2020 semester.”

In response to the shutdown, the FSU Speech and Hearing Clinic adjusted to a Zoom and telehealth model for distance learning and therapy services. The Clinic was fully remote for Summer of 2020 by offering speech and language services on telehealth.

Students participating in the program saw the transition from in-person to telehealth delivery models in real-time as community partners adapted their practices. Accommodations were also made for FSU main campus students, allowing them to utilize distance learning and community relationships from home.

“Over the past year, we have developed many new community placement partnerships and continue to remain in contact with placements who have not been able to host students due to COVID-19 restrictions,” said Dr. Montgomery.

Even with the pandemic, the Speech and Hearing Clinic has been developing relationships around the community. Dr. Montgomery recently created a partnership with Capital Speech and Language Services. This practice is owned by Tallahassee native and SCSD alumna Robyn Hillison. It provides pediatric speech and language evaluation and therapy services for children around the Tallahassee area.

“Partnering with FSU has allowed us to strengthen our connection with future professionals in the field as well as increase our impact in the local community,” said Hillison. “Our collaboration deepens our purpose as SLPs and also benefits our patients. FSU graduate students receive hands-on experience working with patients in our local community. Students gain important clinical skills while participating in the assessment and treatment of pediatric speech and language patients in a supportive environment.”

Medical placements for students have been reduced and many skilled nursing facilities and rehab centers have restrictions on access to their facilities preventing students from working on site. However, as COVID restrictions start to lessen, more opportunities are being offered for students.

The Clinic has begun to offer more in-person sessions where appropriate. Starting the Summer 2021 semester, there will be in-person and remote services for both speech and language treatment and evaluation. Starting in Fall 2020, the clinic will return to in-person, however, it will continue to offer remote/clinical telehealth services when needed.