Speech-language students assist through telepractice
A Julia Gonzalez, a California Baptist University graduate student, leads her client through an online speech therapy exercise as Dr. Danette Bonillo oversees the interactions.
Riverside, Calif. (June 1, 2020) – Graduate students from California Baptist University’s Speech-Language Pathology program continued to serve their clients via telepractice during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fifteen students are serving 36 clients, ranging in age from 2 years to 95, in the summer session.
Dr. Danette Bonillo, director of clinical education, has taught students how to use technology to conduct virtual speech therapy sessions known as telepractice.
“Everything we were doing at the clinic before COVID I had the students transform it into online,” Bonillo said. “They did a fantastic job. We’re taking everything we already do to another level.”
Students finished the spring semester providing two weeks of telepractice. For the summer session students will offer telepractice for another six weeks.
“Think about these people who were already feeling isolated, especially stroke survivors, and now they’re more isolated than ever,” Bonillo said. “We really have to provide that opportunity to engage.”
Graduate students in speech-language pathology are also providing telepractice speech therapy with private clinics, schools or earning hours with web-based simulated case studies.
“In telepractice speech therapy, the goals remain the same as if it were an in-person session. The delivery is just different,” Bonillo said.
Students learned effective use of technology such as adjusting lighting so one’s face is well lit. While in a session, the students need to alternate between showing their faces and materials they are reviewing.
Bonillo said students need to use short sentences, gestures and increase voice intonation to keep clients engaged.
The students also provide music videos, online activities and coaching for families of younger clients.
“It’s a dynamic session that includes a lot of different visuals and a lot of different forms of input. The key is to be connected,” Bonillo said. “We’re finding that the clients are responding very well.”
Megan Macias, a speech-language pathology student, said she was initially nervous about telepractice. She would practice what she was learning with her family and friends. In the end, her sessions with clients went well, she said.
“I was pleased that I was able to connect with them and wrap up our semester together. Dr. Bonillo prepared us well and helped us in accessing resources and becoming familiar with all aspects of teletherapy,” Macias said. “Learning these skills and creating a growing repertoire of teletherapy materials will greatly benefit me and the clients that I will serve in the years to come.”
The Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology program is a two-year program, with second-year students due to graduate in August.
“The CBU students will leave stronger because they’re going to have a really strong foundation of what a professional telepractice session looks like,” Bonillo said.