All graduate programs in CSD provide practicum experiences for their students. But, these experiences can vary widely from one university to another. Many programs keep their student close to home, resulting in a large proportion of clinical hours are obtained in their on-campus clinic. How can a student be provided excellent experiences across a broad range of populations and settings while considering the amount of experience of the student in the first semester of grad school? ACU has found a method that provides world-class experiences while reducing first semester clinical jitters.
First semester grad students at Abilene Christian receive an integrated approach to academic and clinical training. It is very much a “learn and go do” model of instruction, according to Associate Professor Dr. Lynette Austin. Learning about assessment and treatment in class is coupled with actual service provision at a local school for children with learning disabilities. A limited caseload with structured activities and heavy supervision provides an enhanced learning experience and significant clinical readiness for practicum in sites throughout Abilene and the world.
The world? The summer between academic years and the last semester prior to graduation allows the student opportunities to further explore the possibilities in clinical service provision. Although not mandatory, students are encouraged to go outside of Abilene. Many return to their home due to lower living expenses. But, the options are endless. This past summer saw students headed in all directions throughout Texas as well as Oregon, California, South Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and even to Zambia on the continent of Africa. Almost every student blogged that their experience was a significant learning experience and a boost to their confidence! Practicum experiences in our on-campus clinic, at sites throughout metro Abilene, and throughout the world allow for students to graduate with experiences that rival any other program.