Faculty Spotlight: Derek Isetti ’08, PhD, CCC-SLP

deans_letter_summer16_derek_isettiDerek Isetti ’08, PhD, CCC-SLP, assistant professor of speech-language pathology, was awarded a grant from the University’s Strategic Educational Excellence Development fund for a project titled, “Prevention and Screening of Voice Disorders: Providing a Bridge between Academic Disciplines at Pacific.” This grant allows for the purchase of voice screening equipment and guest lectures on the care of one’s voice. Once the program is underway, Pacific students and faculty will have the opportunity to participate in voice screenings. Dr. Isetti brings to the project his unique combination of experiences in both the theater and speech-language pathology (SLP).

What aspect of this project are you most excited about?

Dr. Isetti: “The ability to share knowledge about the vocal mechanism with individuals who will be relying heavily on their voices throughout their careers. There is an aura of mystery around how our voices function and there are also a lot of misconceptions about how to best care for our voices. I’m hoping that this project will be an eye-opening experience, both for the individuals who take part in the screenings, as well as the SLP students who will be helping to conduct them.”

This is an interdisciplinary project; please explain what other departments you will be working with.

Dr. Isetti: “Pacific is fortunate in that we have a Speech, Hearing and Language Center designed to treat members of the local community who have communication disorders. Yet, there are students and faculty here on campus that could easily benefit from some of the services we offer. When you look at our campus as a whole, some of our most prestigious and long-standing programs are those that place a high demand on the vocal mechanism: teacher education, music therapy, music education and vocal performance.”

Why do you think it is important to create connections between academic disciplines?

Dr. Isetti: “Often educators and researchers possess specialized knowledge in a particular field, but that knowledge is contained in separate silos across the various departments. Before I became a voice researcher I began my career on Broadway as a singer. I experienced firsthand that using and protecting our voices requires a bit of both ‘art and science.’”

In what way does this project impact the speech-language pathology and audiology programs?

Dr. Isetti: “The equipment purchased from this grant is going to be incorporated into the curriculum for graduate level voice disorders classes.”

How will students be involved in this project?

Dr. Isetti: “Graduate SLP students who are interested in the field of voice disorders will be assisting me with these voice screenings. These graduate students will be able to gain essential clinical contact hours by assisting with the collection of case history questions, self-reports, auditory-perceptual and acoustic measures of voice. Aside from the individual screenings themselves as part of the grant I will also be providing yearly guest lectures to students in other departments. The focus of these lectures will be on the basic anatomy and physiology of the voice, as well as habits that can help or harm the voice over time.”

Can you please describe the equipment that will be purchased with this grant?

Dr. Isetti: “Believe it or not, our vocal folds vibrate so quickly that you can’t even see the movements with the naked eye. The fancy name for the main piece of equipment is a rigid endoscope with a stroboscopic light source attachment. This basically involves a scope that rests on your tongue, a strobe light that flashes at specific intervals according to the frequency of your voice and a recording apparatus connected to a computer. It is this strobe-effect that captures the movements of the vocal folds that would be lost with the naked eye.”

Why is it important for a teacher to take care of their voice?

Dr. Isetti: “A recent study by Nelson Roy and his colleagues revealed that almost 60 percent of teachers will report having a history of a voice disorder over their lifetime. Not only is there often a personal and physical toll on the teacher […], students are negatively impacted as well. More and more studies are revealing that students perform worse on auditory processing and memory tasks when they are listening to even a mildly dysphonic voice, as opposed to a healthy voice.”

What do you hope to contribute to the SLP profession as a result of this project?

Dr. Isetti: “I’ve become increasingly more interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning. I think there are some valuable insights to be had regarding whether the equipment used in the classroom by our graduate students could help better prepare them for their medical placements. I’m also curious as to whether this early exposure to vocal health information, and more specifically with the ability to see one’s own vocal cords in real time, might have a lasting impact on how our students use their voices throughout their careers.”

 

 

Alumni Spotlight: Sabah Ali ’13, ’15

deans_letter_summer16_sabah_aliWhen talking with Sabah Ali ’13, ’15 what becomes immediately apparent is her passion for speech-language pathology (SLP). “I always knew that I wanted to do something in a helping profession and with kids,” shares Ali. She was initially attracted to SLP because of the versatility of the profession. Working with her first client solidified her decision to pursue a career in SLP. Michael Susca, PhD, CCC-SLP, BRS-FD, associate professor of speech-language pathology, speaks highly of Ali. He shares, “She best represents the highest qualifications and characteristics of speech-language pathologists and the profession.”

Ali, along with co-authors Morgan Dufresne ’15 and Dr. Susca, presented a paper at the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA) Annual Convention and Exhibition in Anaheim on April 29, 2016 titled, “Difference in Expressive and Receptive English Vocabulary Test Scores.” When exploring this topic they discovered that the majority of the existing research focused on children. For their study they decided to look at adults ages 18 to 65.

Ali is fascinated by research that looks at the experiences of individuals who are bilingual as she herself speaks multiple languages. In addition to fluently speaking English, she speaks Punjabi and Urdu, as well as several other South East Asian languages. The focus on their research study was vocabulary, an area that Ali can relate to from personal experience. “I always have those ‘tip of tongue’ moments,” said Ali. She explains that Dufresne is monolingual and was able to offer a differing viewpoint. They were able to compare their experiences taking classes as a native speaker compared to an English language learner.

She found that working collaboratively throughout the research process was incredibly valuable in preparing her for her career. “It was a good learning experience,” said Ali. “Working as a SLP you are working with other professionals. You have to learn to delegate work.” She adds that you also need to be flexible as you adapt to the viewpoints of other members of the team.

Ali with her poster at the conference.
Ali with her poster at the conference.

Dr. Susca had an unique approach to advising. He would take their draft and create three different options. Each option would have revisions, but he wouldn’t tell Ali or Dufresne what he had changed. He then challenged them to pick what they thought was the best version and give reasons defending their choice. Ali described the process as a “true collaborative experience” and one in which they were able to develop their own style as researchers. “He has such a wealth of knowledge and you can tell that he is so passionate about research. He prepared us very well.” She adds, “Without him I don’t think we would have become the critical thinkers we are today.”

Ali describes the experience of presenting at the CSHA convention. “It was so wonderful, it was such an honor to present at the California state convention.” She explains that at first it was a nerve-racking experience to present her research to seasoned professionals, but the overwhelming support of the professional community calmed her nerves.

Ali acknowledges that SLP can be a challenging profession. She believes that despite all of the hard work and energy that is required, the impact that a SLP can make in someone’s life makes it all worthwhile. “If you really want this don’t give up, keep trying,” she encourages. “You need to be passionate. Work with that passion and let that drive you to success.”

Ali is currently working as a speech-language pathologist in Modesto, California at Sylvan Union School District and Valley Mountain Regional Center. Ali is constantly looking for ways to both challenge herself and to become increasingly well-rounded. It is her goal to work with a wide range of ages. “I would eventually like to work in a hospital with adults,” said Ali.

She continues to stay connected to the Pacific alumni community. She notes that several of her supervisors and co-workers are Pacific alumni. One of her friends from her graduating class works for a neighboring school district. They get together for coffee once a month to debrief about the challenges they have faced and to share their success stories.

 

 

2015 SLP Employer Showcase Reveals That Demand Far Exceeds Supply

On November 2, 2015, the DeRosa Ballroom was packed with both exhibitors and students for the 2015 Speech-Language Pathology Employer Showcase. For approximately 65 students the event was an opportunity to explore different career paths. Meeting the representatives helps students put a face to the name of the different companies and organizations that employ speech-language pathologists. For employees the annual showcase is an opportunity to recruit and connect with those who will become among the best and the brightest in their field.

Joshua Rash ’16 fodeans_letter_fall15_slp_showcase1_webund “The back and forth dialogue was incredibly beneficial in increasing my ability to communicate with other professionals.” When Mackenzie Goold ’16 reflected on her interactions with the exhibitors she said that “It allowed me to further analyze my skills and experience based on their questions.” The Showcase also gives students a greater understanding of the diversity of career paths open to them; from large scale medical corporations to school districts. In addition to local employers, at the event there were exhibitors from as far west as Contra Costa County, as far south as Fresno and as far north as the Sacramento area.

This networking event is equally beneficial to employers. Barbara Taylor, MS, CCC-SLP, is the Vice President of Operations at The Speech Pathology Group (SPG). She explains that SPG is “a California provider of speech/language and behavior intervention services. SPG services pediatric through adult clients” in a wide variety of settings. Taylor finds that the “Recruitment of SLPs is a process that never ends at SPG due to the huge demand for these services. Like other private practices, public schools, non-public agencies and medical settings, SPG is constantly searching for Master’s Level therapists to hire.” She emphasizes, “the demand far exceeds the supply of candidates qualified for employment.”

Taylor expresses her appreciation for the invitation for SPG to participate in the showcase and for “the University’s willingness to coordinate” the event. “Each year SPG looks forward to the University of the Pacific’s Speech-Language Pathology Employer Showcase, as it provides us with an excellent opportunity to meet and chat with graduate students who are currently or will soon be seeking job opportunities. Many of our employees graduated from UOP and they arrive with a strong clinical and educational foundation. It is a pleasure to be a part of their professional growth during their CF (clinical fellowship) year and proudly watch them make significant contributions to our field.”

The U.S. Department of Labor confirms the rapidly growing demand for SLP professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015), “Employment of speech-language pathologists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. As the large baby-boom population grows older, there will be more instances of health conditions that cause speech or language impairments, such as strokes and hearing loss.” In addition, “Increased awareness of speech and language disorders, such as stuttering, in younger children should also lead to a need for more speech-language pathologists who specialize in treating that age group. In addition, medical advances are improving the survival rate of premature infants and victims of trauma and strokes, many of whom need help from speech-language pathologists.”

Exhibitors at this year’s showcadeans_letter_fall15_slp_showcase14_webse included AFFIRMA Rehabilitation, Aureus Medical Group, BMR Health Services, Centre for Neuro Skills, Comfort Assisting, Inc. – Home Health Agency, Communication Works, EBS Healthcare, myTherapyCompany, Nova Therapies, Progressus Therapy, School Steps Inc., The Speech Pathology Group, Therapy Specialists and Total Education Solutions. Exhibitors from local hospitals came from Kaiser Permanente, Lodi Memorial Hospital/Lodi Health and Sutter Health. Representing schools were Campbell Union School District, Fresno Unified School District, Manteca Unified School District, San Joaquin County Office of Education, Stockton Unified School District, Twin Rivers Unified School District and West Contra Costa Unified School District.

To learn how to become an exhibitor at next year’s showcase contact Susan Webster, Director of Development, at 209.946.3116 or swebster@pacific.edu.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Speech-Language Pathologists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/speech-language-pathologists.htm (visited October 15, 2015).

 

Language-Literacy Center (LLC) Services in Spring 2016 For Area Youth

Seeking Referrals for the Language-Literacy Center (LLC)

Co-Directors: Jeannene Ward-Lonergan, PhD & Jill Duthie, PhD

The Language-Literacy Center (LLC) is funded through a grant from the University of the Pacific to meet the clinical training needs of Speech-Language Pathology students at the University of the Pacific and the language-literacy needs of area youth. The LLC is designed to provide our students with opportunities to learn best practices in working with youth who have language-literacy disorders and to conduct research in this area. We are currently seeking referrals of individuals who meet the following criteria as potential candidates for the LLC:

  • Children/adolescents in grades 1-12
  • Mild-Moderate Language Disorder
  • At least low average cognitive ability
  • Struggle with literacy (reading and/or writing)
  • Ability to attend weekly, 1-hour afternoon sessions

Assessment and treatment sessions will be provided free of charge in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology at the University of the Pacific, 757 Brookside Road, Stockton, CA. Parents/caregivers of potential candidates of the LLC should email the directors to obtain a referral form for their child.  Please contact either Jeannene Ward-Lonergan, at  jwardlon@pacific.edu or Jill Duthie at  jduthie@pacific.edu

School Lauches High Fidelity Simulation Pilot Program

A multidisciplinary initiative is underway involving the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the College of the Pacific, and the Arthur Dugoni School of Dentistry. Earlier this year, the School received the University’s Strategic Educational Excellence Development (SEED) Grant that will allow several departments (physical therapy, pharmacy, speech-language pathology, athletic training, and physician assistant) to start a pilot program using high fidelity patient simulation. The simulation uses mannequins that are integrated with computer software to mimic real patient responses such as resting and responsive vital signs, sweating, bleeding, vomiting, and reactions to medication. Cathy Peterson, PT, EdD, professor of physical therapy and co-author of the grant explains that “adult mannequins weigh approximately 120lbs and verbal responses can be preprogrammed or created in real time from a staff member who is observing remotely. Each mannequin and the supporting technical equipment and software range in cost from about $20,000 to over $150,000 for the most sophisticated devices used for simulating catastrophic trauma.”patient simulation

Having access to a simulation lab will allow health care faculty to train future health care professionals for real life situations. By working in an interactive environment, students will gain hands-on experience and feedback in dealing with a crisis or medical emergency. “We expect that bringing this state-of-the-art technology for Pacific students will allow them to learn new clinical techniques and to apply didactic knowledge in a low-risk simulated clinical environment,” said Dr. Peterson.

Dr. Peterson shares the team’s vision for a $2 million Pacific Health Sciences High Fidelity Simulation Center and how it can impact partnering disciplines, including the athletic training and physician assistant programs. The center will help “create opportunities for interprofessional education at Pacific, better prepare students for clinical experiences in acute and long-term care, foster more significant bonds among students from different clinical programs, enhance alumni and donor relations, and attract and retain faculty to teach and conduct research using state-of-the-art teaching technology,” said Peterson.

Deepti Vyas, PharmD, BCPS, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and co-author of the grant, has worked with simulators at other institutions prior to coming to Pacific and has published research on the benefits for students. A recent survey of pharmacy schools indicated that a majority of schools are using high fidelity simulators to create real world learning environments. We are excited that Pacific is able to provide this same opportunity for our students. We anticipate that this simulation lab will allow us to develop educational activities which center on topics such as measuring reduction of medication errors, determining efficacy in providing interprofessional education (IPE) opportunities and evaluating improvement in clinical knowledge and skills.

The simulation lab will not only provide opportunities for collaboration between colleges and programs at Pacific but also with the community. “We also expect to develop some relationships with stakeholders in the community including nearby hospitals, clinics and health care programs,” said Dr. Peterson.